Viva preparation: three things you really must prepare

Viva preparation: three things you really must prepare

You never know for sure what questions will be asked at your viva but here are three that you really should include in your viva preparation.

Could you briefly summarise your research?

This is the classic icebreaker used to start things off and allow you and the examiners relax and ease yourself in. You need to give a five to 10 minute introduction to your work and your key findings. It is used so commonly that it really would be crazy not to prepare for it. What you set out to do, how you did it and what you found out. A little like the Abstract but longer and, of course, spoken not written. Ask people you know to listen to your answer and give you some feedback and of course try it out on your supervisor.

Can you explain why you think your research is original?

For research to be of PhD standard, all institutional regulations require it be ‘original’ and significant – you will need to demonstrate this to the examiner. Prepare a statement of one or 2 minutes explaining the originality. Remember originality can come in a number of forms:

  • Originality in tools, techniques and procedures
  • Originality in exploring the unknown/unexplored
  • Originality in data
  • Originality in exploring the unanticipated
  • Originality in the experience

Once again rehearse this statement with others including your supervisor.

Can you explain the contribution your research has made?

The goal of your contribution statement should be to provide a clear and concise focal point for your paper. Do not explain the methodological or operational details of your research. However, your contribution statement should be focused on the following:

  1. The state of scholarship prior to your research – from your knowledge of the literature
  2.  What your research adds – filling the gap or exploring the previously unexplored

There are many possible questions that could come up during your viva and you will not be able to prepare for all of them. If you only prepare for three , then these are the three I personally recommend – Summary – Originality – Contribution – think SOC!

Need help with your viva preparation – just contact me and I will explain how I have successfully helped my clients in their viva preparation.