My PhD Advice, Part 7: Endgame – the Viva

The end is nigh – you’ve finished and submitted your thesis.  Now you’ve got to just get that doctorate…I must warn you all at this point.  I’m aware that the assessment system for PhDs varies greatly between countries.  Having only got one PhD, I can only relate my own experience (which of course are relevant for UK PhDs).  For example, Australian PhDs have no oral defence (although the thesis is still assessed by two examiners), and other countries’ oral defenses are extended seminars given to a larger audience.

Continue reading My PhD Advice, Part 7: Endgame – the Viva

My PhD Advice, Part 5: There’s no I in PhD

One of the big secrets about doing a PhD is that it’s not a solitary task.  While it’s up to you to take control of the project and move the research forward, there’s no way you can know all the answers (after all, if you did, why bother keeping up with the literature?).  You’ve got a lot of assistance at your disposal – your first, most obvious port of call is your supervisor.  They’re tasked with keeping you on track, and making sure you don’t get stuck.  That might seem all well and good, but it’s true that supervisors can’t always be around – they go to conferences, they teach, sometimes they even get sick.  When you’ve got a problem, it’s not guaranteed that they’ll be there to fix it.

Continue reading My PhD Advice, Part 5: There’s no I in PhD