… waiting to hear #go_gn

I submitted my thesis on the 5th of May. It is now mid June. I hope to hear soon from the university about the examiners. Getting more nervous as time passes and I haven’t heard anything yet. However, the silence has not stopped me preparing for the viva day. On the contrary, I continue preparing systematically.

My strategy so far has been to collect all questions colleagues kindly shared with me (by Mary, Lisa and Jenny) so far, others I have found online, into a presentation. I won’t use it during the viva but it does help me to keep everything in one place and create some flashcards too that will be useful when practising with family, friends and colleagues. I still have some work until then.

The presentation has three parts and 83 slides at the moment:

  1. Overview of the study
  2. Viva questions arranged in generic questions, questions linked to the literature, methodology, findings and future facing ones.
  3. Unusual questions

Each question slide has the question at the top and my attempt to respond to this and where needed linked it back to specific pages in the thesis. I suspect this will be useful. I started with the ones that were easier… but then went back into the thesis and also started re-reading specific literature to refresh my memory.

Also, I have started discussing some of my responses with colleagues (Stephen and Kath so far) and have now an extensive set of questions and answers and I go back to the questions and answers and review them. Some of my initial responses were very generic. I need to be specific and link back to the study.


My next step is to read the thesis again very carefully and identify any additional questions I could be asked and add these to the presentation. This is the time for the first sticky notes to be added and check for further typos and little things I need to change.

BTW my list of edits is now at 13… I am making the corrections in the digital version of the thesis as I find the errors and am keeping all changes in a file which I plan to share at the end of the viva.

Your tips and suggestions are very welcome.

9 thoughts on “… waiting to hear #go_gn

  1. You’ll get your PhD if you can demonstrate one thing: that you’ve made an original, meaningful contribution to knowledge. If you are asked to articulate that single, original contribution in 30 seconds, what will you say?

    Indeed, you may wish to consider starting the viva with that statement, even if you’re not asked the question.

    • Hi Ale, thank you for commenting and your help with this. Here is what I think at the moment I would say…

      I have contributed new insights into how collaborative open learning was experienced in two cross-institutional academic development courses and developed an openly licensed framework based on the findings that can be used by other practitioners.

      What would you say to this if you were the external?

  2. I know those are your first thoughts, but if you don’t mind me suggesting, wouldn’t your statement be better reversed: your contribution is the framework, arising from your insights (unless I’ve misunderstood)?

    Good luck! I hope you hear soon

    • Thank you Janet 😉 Yes, the framework is empirical and based on the findings and related insights. I hope you are well.

  3. Dear Chrissi,

    I’m addition to all the useful comments above, I would just add that take each chapter of your thesis and think critically about it. It is useful to read your thesis a few times before going in the viva. The corrections you have made (ensure you point this out to the examiners even if they don’t ask for them) as this will show that you are mindful and care about the presentation of the final thesis. I recieved my PhD with no corrections and won the VC Award for Best thesis in 2015.. Although my supervisors were sure I would only come out with minor corrections. I challenged all the myths out there… One of them being to never take a quantitive researcher to examine a Qualitative thesis… The outcome was that he/they enjoyed reading it from a different perspective and realised the depth of insight proven by the methods that I used. I got one question which I wasn’t prepared for… They asked me “is there any question we should have asked you about your thesis that we haven’t? This was such a difficult one… I felt they meant like.. is there something that’s so fundamentally wrong about your thesis that you haven’t seen? My response was to emphasize on the most important part of the thesis which was the research gap as that would naturally lead them back to the original contribution of my research (the requirements of the PhD). There are some practice questions for viva on University of Nottinghams website. If you want, I can email it to you. The viva is an enjoyable experience (I only believed that when I actually had mine!) All the best!

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and response here Naveed. This is very kind and generous of you to also share your personal experience. I will do as you suggest read the thesis in chapters and also summarise and critique these. will tell them about the corrections I have already made.

      The question you mention is interesting. I will add this to my list and articulate a response. Thank you for sharing.

      Great to hear you had such a positive experience and very well done on the award too. A massive achievement. If you would like to send me any questions you have, that would be really helpful.

      Thanks again Naveed.

  4. Chrissi, as I said in a tweet, you should go into your viva with the confidence that you are the expert in your field and the examiners are there only to confirm that. Alejandro’s suggestion is one that I’ve used with my own students so someone must have given me the same advice once! Having your corrections ready will give the examiners the confidence that if there are minor corrections, they’ll be done quickly. Your other preparations sound excellent, but try not to anticipate too much as if you’re relaxed you more likely to experience an enjoyable viva. As it becomes a conversation between peers, like the many you must have had with friends and colleagues, you’ll know you’ve cracked it! Good luck!

    • Thank you so much for your advice Chris. I am working systematically through the thesis. Have now made 21 corrections… all documented in a separate file and explained. I am trying to focus on what I would have difficulty in explaining… I find it enjoyable to talk about the research itself. So hopefully the focus will be this… Struggle with the question… what is the difference between phenomenography and phenomenology as I didn’t do phenomenology… but suspect I will be asked the question so preparing for this. My pp is now over 100 slides. Only using it to revise and articulate possible responses. I hope I will be able to relax during the viva. Thanks again Chris for your wise words.


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