I know a lot have posted about this, but I'd like to hear more about how people cope with the time between submitting and viva, because it sucks, right? I submitted last week (my thesis is in the humanities), have tried to have a rest but it's quite a foreign thing now! I feel a mix of anxiety about the viva, frustration at not having concrete work to do, and deflation about the whole thing. A few friends have given great tips, i.e. thinking of ideas for new journal articles...but I'm finding it hard to be motivated at the moment. It's that horrible feeling when you know you have a tonne of work still to do...but can't quite bring yourself to do it! I also think I need a decent break, but don't know how to do this without feeling guilty about not working (a common feeling, I gather!). Would appreciate any pearls of wisdom :)
There is nothing that you can usefully do to prepare for your viva until much nearer the time. You need to prepare for the viva quite late in the day, so the ideas and your revision are still fresh when the date of the viva comes.
So take a complete break. Yes really! Are there things you've been putting off doing because of your PhD? What about books - non academic - that you want to read? Or maybe a day trip to places you want to go and visit.
It's vital that you take this break because you need to be in as good a shape as possible for the viva.
I do not recommend working on journal papers at the moment if they are spun out of your PhD thesis. You are likely to get valuable feedback at your viva about publishing options, and your research in general, and it's much better if you can wait until after then before tackling more journal papers.
Good luck! My PhD was in the humanities too (history).
Shutting down is a hard thing to do in the gap between submission and viva, but if you can take some sort of break then do so. You'll face two such downers, the first at submission the second once you finish the PhD completely.
The nature of what you can do may vary depending upon discipline. I was science and engineering, so in my case I was expected to display a knowledge of what I was expected to know for a science and engineering doctoral candidate. I thus had to revise related areas surrounding my thesis but not necessarily part of it (science, characterisation methods, knowledge of other author's work) that might be discussed during viva. I thus had a short break over Christmas, during which I was twiddling my thumbs thinking I should work as you are now, before I got going again a few days later - this knowing I had significant territory yet to cover was a big motivator to make me start working again. I thus do wonder even with humanities if there's not some background reading you could do that might support you at viva?
My viva was two and a half months after submission and I found my downer happened after viva. I passed at the time with minor corrections and I dealt with these straight away. My paperwork shows the minor corrections were accepted and the final hardbound version of my thesis was submitted exactly a week later.
I was on post-doc at my PhD Uni. and had gone for a lunchtime walk some ten days after and suddenly realised "What do I do now?". The going from frenzied working all hours to normal is quite a drop to take.
I had all this free time on my hands and wasn't sure what to do with it. Only once I got away on holiday a few months later did I truly start to take stock and mentally begin to move on.
It seems to be a common feeling post-submission. I've been feeling very much the same way, and after talking to people have decided to just take a little mental break. Nothing wrong with that, it'll make me all the more productive when I get stuck in again.
I had a few weeks off where I did nothing (PhD related), and just enjoyed not having to work on it in the evenings and on weekends (I was part time). Since then I've been drafting a couple of journal papers from my thesis. It's been 2 months since I've submitted, so I'm feeling a bit more aprehensive about the examination result. Thankfully I'm busy with a full time job and family, so I don't have much free time to dwell on it.
First of all congrats on submitting - that is a massive accomplishment in itself and should be celebrated.
I think you should take a month long break from anything PhD related. I did this and found it really beneficial. Not only do you mentally and physically recuperate from the submission process, but it also allows you to see your thesis with fresh eyes (like the examiners will).
As soon as the month break is up, I personally started re-reading my thesis. I listed all the typographical errors I had made and constructed a table of corrections. I then began reading a viva preparation book, in my case Rowena Murray's book. I then prepared a PowerPoint summarising the following areas (1) motivation for research, (2) gaps in the literature, (3) methodology and justification of approach, (4) key findings, (5) weaknesses and further research. This helped me focus and meant that I was prepared for the incredibly general question that I faced at the beginning of my viva "can you tell us what you have been doing for the past three years?"
I then started working through all the common viva questions listed in Rowena Murray's book and preparing detailed answers. I re-read some key articles also, including my externals work. Two weeks before the viva I printed out the questions (45 in total) and asked anyone I knew who had spare time to ask them to me for an hour straight. Without a doubt this last bit of prep was absolutely invaluable when the viva came around as I had mastered being concise and confident.
Honestly just take a break now, relax and gather your strength - BUT get back to it after a month and prepare for the viva. That way you can walk in confident and enjoy the process! Good luck :D
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