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Viva news!

Well done Dr. Tractorgirl!!

Selecting an external examiner - What criteria do I go on?

I chose my examiners based on their knowledge of my area and since I used a qualitative methodology, I chose somehow who has a qualitative bias. Nevertheless, I have NEVER met any of them!! And that has me VERY worried.

Aloha - have you received your viva date?

My supervisor was about to nudge my external examiner and I suggested to him that he confirmed with the department that the thesis was sent off. Lo and behold - it was not. Why? The person who should sign off the external examiner request sheet - has not done so - WEEKS after. It is still sitting in his in-tray.

I am pissed can you tell? My supervisor has asked that the Department ensures the thesis is sent off before December - so I am thinking it wont be read until end of January - which probably leaves me with February!! It seems so far away to me right now. I just want to DO IT!

Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!

Quote From heifer:

Thanks so much for posting all the tips below - I'm not planning on submitting til September but still have a periodic panic about the viva!

Glad to be of help! :)

With regard to your original question, is your external someone who has expertise in your methodology or your subject area (or both)?

My external has written in the broad area - but not specifically on my topic at all. I am in the social sciences and I am covering a minority issue. He has however written a lot of making minority research mainstream by being more ingenuous with research methods. So I am now trying to find all his articles to see his take on these things. I have cited him twice - but I am thinking that may make him question me more on my methods since he really seems to be interested in how minority research evolves within our field.

Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!

Approaching the Viva

How you approach the examination is also crucial to a positive and successful outcome. Here is one approach which you could adopt. Feel free to adapt it to suit your individual personality and preferences. The important thing is that you feel comfortable and positive.

• Approach the whole day by planning it ahead of time. What image will you present? What will you do before the examination? What will you wear? Wear something you are comfortable in, and that presents the image you want to portray. What will you do afterwards? Who do you want to talk to following the meeting? How will you contact them? Have champagne on ice. Plan the interview to go the way you want it to go.
• Be confident in your approach to the examination. Speak slowly and clearly. Take a deep breath before you answer and smile.
• It is as much for your benefit as for the examiners - it should help you to assess the value of your own research as part of your learning process.
• Remember that you have done a considerable amount of very valuable research and that you are one of the foremost world experts in this specialised area. You will know more about your research than anyone else in the examination room!

Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!

Results and Discussion

The individual nature of degrees make it more difficult to indicate the specific questions which might be asked about your results and discussion. Questions and starting points for discussion will be very specific and may be detailed. This is where you will need to strongly defend your research and any contentious results or discussion. A good starting point is to focus on the following questions in relation to your own thesis:

1. Can you summarise the main research findings for us? Why do you think these are significant?
2. How did you analyse the results to determine their level of accuracy and eliminate any tendency for error? What was the magnitude of error? How did you statistically validate your results?
3. You said in your discussion that you thought that………was particularly important. Can you expand on this point for us?
4. We’re not sure about the points you discussed in relation to your finding and the work of…..Can you clarify these for us?
5. In what way are the results supportive or in contrast to the findings of other researchers? How do these relate to (professional and industrial) practice as it stands at present? Explain the significant findings in relation to industrial and professional practice? How do you envisage these being taken forward by the appropriate industries/professions concerned?


By this stage in the examination your defence case has been presented since the conclusions should only present a summary, and no new information or argument should be introduced. The content should clearly and logically summarise the findings of your research and show how the results and discussion have answered the research aims and the research questions posed in the introduction. Providing this has been done questions which might be asked include:

1 How do you think your study adds to the body of knowledge in your field of research?
2 If you were asked to address some of the weaknesses of your study how would you go about doing so?
3 Now that you have completed your thesis, what potential for further research in this area exists as a result of the research that you have done? What would be your priorities in that research?
4 Do you think that your work is worthy of publication, and if so where do you see it being published?

Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!

? Literature Review questions will usually follow: Questions and starting points for discussion might include:

1. This chapter is a critique of the literature concerning the…….What is the significance of these theories in relation to the development of…Have you any reservations or criticisms of the theories?
2. We note that you apportioned considerable significance to the work of… Why is her work so significant?
3. Can you explain your understanding about the theory of…….in relation to your own work? How does this relate to practice in the field? What were the significant research implications?
4. How do you feel the methods you used were influenced by your review of the literature?
5. What are the most recent developments that have occurred since you began your degree and how have these influenced your thinking about your research?

? Methodology questions and starting points for discussion might include:-

1. How does the methodology i.e. the underlying philosophical and methodological approach relate to the aims of the study as indicated in the introduction?
2. How do you justify the methods of research you selected? What were your reasons for not using……………?
3. In what way were they an effective measurement of………in your particular research situation? Why did you choose these methods above others? How could these methods be improved? How accurately do you think this reflected what you were attempting to measure?
4. How did the methods used combine to seek answers to the research questions? Are there any significant limitations of the research methods available to you?
5. Could the methodology chapter be better structured and the detail presented so that a knowledgeable reader would clearly understand what it was you did - exactly and why?
6. How would you re-structure and amend this chapter to take the above issues into consideration?

Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!


• Be careful to prepare your defence - this will allow you to approach the viva with maximum confidence
• Plan answers to likely questions and take part in a practice dress rehearsal – this has proved to be a valuable and effective way of preparing for your viva


? The Examiner will welcome you and introduce themselves (they will probably tell you a little about themselves although you will know a lot from your own thorough preparation)
? The structure of the examination will be explained to you (occasionally they will tell you that they have already agreed to make the award but this is quite unusual)
? The External Examiner will encourage you to relax a little by giving you the chance to say a little about yourself. She/He may ask a question like: Tell us a little about yourself or what was the highlight of your programme of research?

? General Introductory questions will follow. The type of question you may be asked include:-

? Tell us a little about how you came to choose this area of study for your PhD?
? Tell us about your thesis?
? What is original about your research?
? What do you consider to be the significant strengths of the research? What are its weaknesses?

Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!

Quote From rubyw:

I think there is a word limit on posts, other people sometimes write stuff in several posts to get round it. I expect the admins could tell us the exact wordcount?

I'm sure your tips would be really helpful to everyone though, I'm not at that stage yet and am finding all this viva talk useful.

Okay - I may just post them in bits then.

Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!

Quote From Smilodon:

Well done writing up with a young baby! I don't think I could have done that. I took the whole year out after mine was born and just did a little bit of writing.

Many thanks! It was not easy - but I felt really guilty and did not want to ask for another extension. So I really pressured myself. And baby is really well behaved - she sleeps right through the night - from about 2 mths! And even as a newborn she would just wake for feed twice in the nights and go right back! Aso I have been really lucky! Maybe the Gods knew my plight!

Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!

Tried cut and pasting. Not sure why it is not being posted. Maybe too long?

Five letter word--change a letter


Four letter word--change a letter


Four letter word--change a letter


Finally submitted - now I am in trepidation!

Hi Aloha,

Thanks for that link. I am trying to compile a swat sheet summary of my chapters and main arguments. Also, trying to anticipate questions and structure my answers to those.

I've given my thesis to one of the heavyweights in my field to read, and I am awaiting his comments.

I have a file with very good viva hints - I could pass it to you but I don't know how to upload files here....or maybe I could just copy and paste!! :)

My viva was today, and ..... I did it :)

I wish you all the best in your viva. Try as much as you can to be relaxed the day of the viva, you have done the hard work and submitted (up). Try to prepare by reading the thesis a few days before the viva to make sure it is still fresh in your mind, and relax the night before the viva.

Thanks for that bit of advice. I am trying to read over and stay calm - it is not easy. :)