A perspective on passing the viva

20-May-19, 05:44
Avatar for Spykeeboy
posted about 4 months ago
Having passed my viva (STEM field) last week, I wanted to share my experience to put the mind of fellow PhD students at ease, especially at the last hurdles!

I think a PhD requires a general ability to shrug off looming mental (!) and physical ailments by taking care of yourself as well as your research. I have made the mistake of not doing the former. By running away from social anxiety and a stutter, I have reserved myself to a poor social life by worrying and over-thinking my every action throughout the project. Now, nearing 25, I am lonely with zero social skills, lost my sense of humour, and am more proficient in English than my native language.

I realize now that my fear of failure was utterly unfounded. So if you suffer from PhD-related stress and are 'stuck' in the final stages, here is what I did prior to/during the viva:

1) Have not looked at my thesis post-submission until 3 weeks before the viva (ca. 2.5 months). When I did read it, it was only twice - you KNOW your research. Focus on the broader context and really understanding the main terminology/concepts of your work instead of having the book definition of those terms you mentioned in passing!

2) Had a practice viva with my supervisor 1 week prior - instrumental! Do not forego this if you can help it, puts things into perspective.

3) Kept my viva answers minimal. If the examiners want more detail, they will ask for it. You might trip yourself by giving away too much.

4) Brought in a list of typos and work done since submission into the viva - shows attention to detail.

5) Left time for fun! Enjoy your hobby(s), go out. Do not strain your mind - it is only so elastic!

As long as you submitted a thesis you are proud of, the overwhelming likelihood is that you will pass. Do not compromise your well-being for it as I have.

I hope this helps somebody along the way :) Good luck!
20-May-19, 16:08
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
Amazing! Thank you for sharing - I will apply 1) , 3) and 4) when I have my viva :-)

22-May-19, 13:52
edited about 11 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 4 months ago
Not so sure about point 3. Whilst you don't want to waffle, you do want to give fairly expansive answers.
This demonstrates a wider knowledge of the relevant areas and helps you satisfy the examiner more quickly that you possess the attributes required to pass. More importantly it reduces the number of questions they can ask and eats up time.
22-May-19, 15:11
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 4 months ago
[email protected] eating up time! Actually pm133, perhaps I had better take your advice here, as I am notoriously extremely short/straight to the point in my verbal responses, so if I consciously tell myself to be minimal, we may get down to one word answers!
27-May-19, 13:51
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 4 months ago
Eats up time!! Haha I hadn't considered this before, I have my viva coming up in less than a fortnight and I am bricking it!


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