it's an oral examination after you submit your thesis, where you have to defend your thesis and your phd work and demonstrate you have a good understanding of your thesis and the fundamentals, it's an intellectual academic conversation with your examiners.
Am I being naive/optimistic but is the VIVA necessarily horrible and difficult? Or is it a thorough chat about your PhD - the last chat you will ever have about it? How will you not know it inside and out when you have spent three/four years thinking about it most days and the last year writing it up? Could it not be remotely enjoyable - surely if you have submitted you can be confident and proud that it is a reasonable project?
... I only hear negative things so am sure I am being terribly naive... Please put me straight!
Well I can only comment from my own experience but I found my viva more like a discussion/chat of my work. It wasnt "answer this question" more like "what do you think about this". Think it definately helps being published though as your work has already been reviewed.
i agree with clowning. being published is a great idea. as for the nature of it. i suppose it depends on examiners and on your attitude. if you see it as a discussion, it is likely to be just that. if you see it as a defence and become defensive it is likely to be just that. excuse me for the typos - not too sure about that word - defence - defensive.
Yes I am keen to get published - after this chapter, or maybe after the fieldwork when I am not so speculative.
Am not at all worried about the Viva part of things really and from what you guys have said it sounds similar to what I thought. I don't see how or why anyone would want to tear you apart, or even if it is possible once you have got to that stage to 'fail' a viva. If you do then WOW you have had a bad sup!!!
Or you are a poor student! A supervisor can only take you so far. It's your PhD to defend/discuss and the viva is the perfect time to take responsibility for your research and your work. The viva is there to ensure that you have performed the work outlined in the thesis and understand both the theoretical background and the wider context of your work. It is also there to discuss any deficiencies and correct any errors. You can fail, or alternatively, be directed to substantially enhance your work. Most people do ok though.
ooh yes, you could be a poor student! I didn't mean that the sup carries you through the PhD, no no. I mean it would be a bad sup that let me submit and go to viva when he knew (must know) my work/ideas were rubbish - that's their job as I see it - to let you know when you are good/bad and, yes, otherwise leave you to it...
I'm inclined to agree with Jayney - I can think of at least 3 colleagues who've had a viva in the last year and claim they enjoyed it.
Guess all the other posts cover it but if you do have one then enjoy it - i am very nervy and hate meeting new people and talking in public but I enjoyed the fact that two people had actually read my thesis in depth and were interested in it - a novelty really! We went through the thesis chapter by chapter - they pointed out things they werent sure about asked questions to check I knew about the work (ie had done it) gave me tips for publishing and we had some debate about what I might change and where the work fits into the field elsewhere. It was fun although it did last 3.5 hours and I was knackered at the end of it. it probably helped that my examiner was so friendly and told me straight away that he loved the thesis and enjoyed reading it. Most people i ve spoken to enjoy it even if it is in a masochistic way. I tihnk you know if you are going to fail or not by that stage or you should.
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