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Viva questions by themes

Monday, September 15th, 2008 @ 3:25 pm
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Posted in  Viva

I find this list very useful, especially for someone who has a viva approaching ( i have another year to go for mine but good to keep all that in mind from now!) so, i am recording it below:

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

· What were the main aims of your research?

· Briefly tell us about your research i.e. your abstract etc

· Could you sum up what this Thesis is about? What is its contribution?


General Contribution to knowledge


· 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?

· Has any of your findings challenged or changed your own knowledge around the topic (any surprises)?

  • What surprised in this study?

· What could be the contribution of your research towards the theory/literature about the ‘working alliance’?




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



· How have your participants’ stories extended your own understanding of the phenomenon?

  • How are you impacted now by this study - what has it done to you, what does it mean to you, how will you take it forward?


Previous history


· 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?

· How you do see your stance as a researcher (v. using the word ‘bias’)




· Talk through around the process of this thesis being a heuristic study

· Having completed this study, what is your contribution to qualitative research? What is the adding ingredient your bring?

· How do you think your research participant’s personal issues/difficulties may have influenced what they reported to you during the interviews?

· All your participants have been female. If you had all or some male participants, what do you think would have happened? (discourse around gender)




  • What are the ethical considerations/concerns particularly related to your research and how did you address those?

· 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?


· Can you give us some significant examples from your data?



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

· If your research was to contribute in future developments of counselling training, what would those be?

· What is one thing you would say to policy makers

Weaknesses/Future plans

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

· You didn’t get all the data you wanted. At that point what steps did you take to get more data? How would you change the design for future researchers to cover this point?

Open ending

· Is there anything you would like to add?

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

· Is there something else you would like to say or that we haven’t asked and you consider important?

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2 Comments for
“Viva questions by themes”

  1. Hi F. (Not sure if you reveal your identity!)
    Thanks for the viva questions. I have eight pages of questions from Murray (2002) and Wellington, Bathmaker et al. (2005). It’s not easy to prepare for the possibility of so many different potential questions. Also, there are follow-up questions. How do we find out what examiners are likely to ask when presented with particular forms of the summary of our thesis? (Not easily, I would say, given current levels of university funding!) Yet, prepare we must!
    Best wishes,

  2. Hi Jim

    I would be interested to see your 8-pages document of potential viva questions, if you could send them to my personal email

    as to your question around ‘how do we find out what examiners are likely to ask’, i could not possibly have an answer about that, i imagine it depends on how much a student knows about the examiner’s own interests and background which may potentially affect their take in how they read a thesis. This is something for supervision of course and i am sure you must have prepared well enough. Something i realised when we had PhD group supervision earlier this morning is that developmentaly speaking, the journey of conducting research has taught me how to THINK about research. So, in the light of that, i think there is a point where you shall stop seeking having all potential viva questions answered in your head before hand (which is unpredictable anyway) and trust that you will be able to think about it and respond rigorously in the here-and-now of your viva examination date!

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