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Viva Questions

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 @ 3:34 pm
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Posted in  Supervision, Viva

 It is always very useful to attend this process as an observer during the course of conducting a PhD as it informs me to things i shall be looking at and thinking about for my own research. I feel very tired to record many reflections here but i want to, at least, note down the questions posed during this 1.5 hrs examination. Those were:

1. Tell us what you consider to be the highpoints of your research

2. Could you summarise the 2 main aims of your research?

3. We would like you to clarify the research question(s) that weaves through your research

4. What are the implications of your research in terms of counselling practice?

5. There seem to have been many things that you already knew about your research topic, from your own personal experience. Having now done this research, what do you take with you, what is the new learning and how can it be applied?

6. How do your personal insights link or connect to your data?

7. You discuss implication for counselling training and supervision. Were your participants talking about these things during your interviews?

8. Tell us what were your sets of data (personal story, participants etc)
9.What is the meaning of your use of the word “……” in the Thesis? (in this case, it was about the word ‘collaborations”)
10. Can you contextualise a bit each section/stage of your research? is there clear transparency about that in your writing?

11. Tell us about your own voice as a researcher in the Thesis

12. What is your own bricolage as a method? please describe it in your own words, your own voice
13. Methodology comment: please say a bit more about your writing style of the methodology chapter…it seems that there is an unconventional piece of work with a very conventional methodology chapter…why is that?

14. What are the key writings in your literature?

15. How do the main themes of your topic relate to the literature?

16. How do you position your research amongst the work that already exists? Maybe you could critique this a bit more…how did you come to identify the gap?

17. You don’t say much about Ethics…this needs to be more explicit, for example did you draft a letter to participants about how you would handle the data or was it only oral agreement?

18. What about presenting your findings back to your participants? tell us a bit more about that

19. Is there anything you would like to have done differently during your PhD process?

20. Is there anything you would like to add?

21. Is there any question you would like us to have asked and haven’t done so?

So, these are the questions i have recorded and am aware of trying to figure out answers to them, in relation to my own topic…how would i respond if i was sitting at the student’s chair? i know am still at an earlier stage but so useful to bear all these points in mind!

The research supervisor’s feedback to the whole doctoral group, following this viva, was as follows:

“One of the things they have asked for her own authoritative researcher voice to come through even clearer. This happens quite often and is challenge since for most of us getting a doctorate gives us (the confidence to use) that voice. Aim to undershoot on your timetable. Don’t say I’ve got 4 or 6 years figure on less. Most of us underestimate how long producing the thesis takes. It is not just about writing 10,000 words of this and 5,000 words of that. Any one of you can do that. It is writing so that when those chapters are put together they work as a thesis. That takes time and so many questions often arise at that moment that mean extra reading and writing . Sometimes it is only at that stage that you and ur supervisor (s) see what is missing. We need a final draft for a month before you print and hand in minimum. So figure a timetable where you aim to get a draft to us 7 months before your actual deadline! And if that is your final draft deadline figure then set deadlines for each section of the thesis…” – I need to make a clear timeline for my Thesis!

I will discuss all that in the next tutorial

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4 Comments for
“Viva Questions”


  1. Fenia – thank you so much for posting this! This really sharpens my mind as to the “end result” (the thesis) and how it communicates the whole story of the research to the reader (examiner). These are really probing (and yet quite obvious) questions! I will have to work out how my own research can be defined and communicated clearly. I also appreciate the note at the end about timing and a rushed thesis – probably my biggest potential pitfall. I will copy and save this for future reference. 🙂



  2. Hi cormac, yes it is quite useful to attend vivas and see what kind of questions are being asked and what is the process really, i have attended about 5 so far and each exainer has different style…

    I have a request for you: could you forward my blog address to any other blogs or friends of yours who might be moving between cultures. all those migrants by choice who are going more gloabal in identity….I would welcome comments even from people who are not counsellors….what it means to them and their sense of self to be in host places, what is their sense of hime, how relationships, work, viewpoints etc are affected by this mobility we do….and the Wiki is a medium that reflects that, i think…

    alos, how can i find other blogs that i could link my blog to? i want more people visiting really



  3. Counselling & Psychology | Mallorca…

    Before the relationships between the individuals can begin to be understood, it is important for all to recognize and acknowledge others…



  4. Thank you all for your comments, it seems that this VIVA section in my blog is useful for other students


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