Viva prep


I know a few of us are having their vivas soon and I was just wondering how prep is going?

I have a mock in a few weeks (yes, sups thought it'd be best to have it before Xmas:-s) and I can't seem to be bothered. I haven't even managed to submit my papers yet! Working hasn't helped as I don't seem to have much spare time as previously and when I do, I'm pretty tired:-(


Don't look at dissertation for a while, then read it again.

Andrew broad's list of nasty phd viva questions, etc.

Make chapter summaries. Make short sentence summaries of each paragraph of discussion, asking yourself 'so what'?

Brush up on the principles of any techniques you used.

Relax. You wrote the thing, so you should know it pretty well.


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thanks chobba, good tips.

I'm finding the viva prep hard going also - well I should say thinking about the viva prep 'coz I'm not really doing anything:-(


I didn't do too much, either. Had a job interview the week prior which ate into my prep time. Still passed and got corrected in time for Dec graduation.


I've done nothing yet (viva 20th Jan). My SUp wants me to have a mock viva, I'm not sure I want one.

Not managed to cubmit papers either, but it's on my definite list of things to do!


Thanks for the tips Chobba.

I guess I'm just struggling with the motivation. I had a week off from submission till I opened my copy. Worked on it for a few days and I haven't opened since. It's been a month now so I should be able to do it?? Maybe I'm worrying too much about it? Saying that, I'd like to go in prepared rather than risk failing the viva.

Thank you Ady and Catalinbond. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one!

Maybe I should make my steps even smaller than they are.


My last post made me look like I think I'm the coolest dude ever. I am pretty cool but that's not what I meant - my point was that there's only so much you can do in terms of prep anyway so if the viva creeps up on you after seeming far away, as long as you've refreshed your memory and your dissertation is half decent then you should do well.

One further specific bit of advice from me would be to look at your external's research interest (and you should know your internal's a bit, too). This isn't necessarily the same as reading papers that they've written, though that may be part of it. Their interests should obviously not match yours exactly if your research is novel, but that's not the point. The point is that though they have (hopefully) read your complex document and are asking you about it in depth, that academics always lean the conversation back to their area of expertise, probably because they feel more comfortable that way. You have to humour this for 3-4 years while studying, and you might have to engage in it in your viva, particularly if your research areas are closely related. I should point out that this is not me being malicious. It's perfectly normal and sometimes provides a good starting point for discussion and very helpful, although other times it can go nowhere and you think 'why did you bring that up'?.


E.E. [Question about something specific in your thesis]
You [Concise / technical answer / rationale]
E.E. "Oh, that's interesting, because in [my field] the results indicate [something similar / something different] or the approach taken is to blah blah blah
You [Something about the appropriateness of that approach or the relevance of those results to your project]. Be diplomatic if you think it's necessary, and this is where it's nice to know something about their research area, though if you reach the limits of your knowledge in that part of the discussion, just say so.

Anyway, this was meant to be a quick post. I have papers to write, too. Proof that even after the viva you don't leave the procrastination station, eh.