I submitted my thesis way back in March but, somewhere between CREET and the Research School, the documentation was lost or abandoned for a couple of months. Add to that a spell in hospital when they finally got round to fixing a date – and I’m left with a viva in late August, when my thesis is fast becoming a distant memory and I’m on the mend from major surgery.
Of course, successfully completing a viva affects all sorts of things: employment prospects, roles I can take on at the university, status, pay – and I could have done without lying in intensive care worrying about the event itself. Someone, somewhere at the university has messed things up big time – not that they are apologising for it, or even owning up.
But, apart from awarding the unknown culprit(s) a #massivefail hashtag, I’m thinking positive and working on possible viva questions. I’ve been setn, or read, several lists of these – so here they are, my selection of the Top 40 Potential Viva Questions.
1. Can you start by summarising your thesis?
2. Now, can you summarise it in one sentence?
3. What is the idea that binds your thesis together?
4. What motivated and inspired you to carry out this research?
5. What are the main issues and debates in this subject area?
6. Which of these does your research address?
7. Why is the problem you have tackled worth tackling?
8. Who has had the strongest influence in the development of your subject area in theory and practice?
9. Which are the three most important papers that relate to your thesis?
10. What published work is closest to yours? How is your work different?
11. What do you know about the history of [insert something relevant]?
12. How does your work relate to [insert something relevant]?
13. What are the most recent major developments in your area?
14. How did your research questions emerge?
15. What were the crucial research decisions you made?
16. Why did you use this research methodology? What did you gain from it?
17. What were the alternatives to this methodology?
18. What would you have gained by using another approach?
19. How did you deal with the ethical implications of your work?
20. How has your view of your research topic changed?
21. How have you evaluated your work?
22. How do you know that your findings are correct?
23. What are the strongest/weakest parts of your work?
24. What would have improved your work?
25. To what extent do your contributions generalise?
26. Who will be most interested in your work?
27. What is the relevance of your work to other researchers?
28. What is the relevance of your work to practitioners?
29. Which aspects of your work do you intend to publish – and where?
30. Summarise your key findings.
31. Which of these findings are the most interesting to you? Why?
32. How do your findings relate to literature in your field?
33. What are the contributions to knowledge of your thesis?
34. How long-term are these contributions?
35. What are the main achievements of your research?
36. What have you learned from the process of doing your PhD?
37. What advice would you give to a research student entering this area?
38. You propose future research. How would you start this?
39. What would be the difficulties?
40. And, finally… What have you done that merits a PhD?
Addendum: Rebecca successfully defended her thesis on 21st August. I’ve posted up this pic I took on the day, but I expect when she’s back from her hols she’ll move it to another post. Gill