Although I had submitted my thesis in mid-summers, I finally had my viva. My life is as a PhD student is now official over …thankfully on a successful note! Although I could dwell on a number of issues as I write my last entries on the blog, I think it will be best if I write down some of the lessons from the viva and last few months.
- Before submitting your thesis, take a week or two off so that you can review your thesis with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.
- Proofread again and again. When one can sometimes encounter minor errors in one’s 8 page published paper, there is always a chance of some kind of error lurking in the thesis.
- Treat the time before you submit the thesis as your viva preparation time. This mental attitude may help you look at the thesis more carefully. This is easy to say but hard to do because after three years, one may be exhausted with one’s line of work.
- Write less but make sure each and every sentence is defendable.
- I know some academics like to dress casually but viva is a time to show respect to the occasion and dress formally.
- Make lots notes on your thesis. Use sticky notes if they help. Your notes will help you in the viva.
- Vivas are not meant to make the candidate feel uncomfortable. Rather, they provide a chance to explain what you have been doing for the last few years. From what I have noticed, in UK, viva can be prolonged affairs where the examiners go through the thesis and ask relevant questions or seek clarifying comments on parts of the thesis.
- Do not be afraid to hold your own against the expert. It is unlikely that your thesis is deemed a flawless piece of work. Also, examiners like to do their job by looking at everything critically. However, a viva is not a time to get overawed by the expert but a time to have an intelligent conversation on a topic you are supposed to have command on.
- It is best to be polite even when disagreeing.
- Good examiners invest a lot of time in examining the thesis and giving valuable feedback. It is good to thank them for their effort and interest.
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