Undertaking Viva Preparation During Unprecedented Times

Coventry University PGR Blog Post written by Rebecca Beech

I submitted my PhD in January 2020 and since then I have moved back to Yorkshire, have been in lockdown due to COVID-19 since the 23rd March and have anticipated my Viva in April. I would like to share my experience with you in this blog on how I successfully prepared for my Viva, by reaching out to friends, colleagues and my supervisory team along with using technology to keep us all in touch. Alongside preparation I share how I manage the work/life balance during lockdown, which to me was an important aspect that kept me motivated, healthy and happy prior to the Viva.

The few weeks leading up to the Viva I started intense revision of my thesis which entailed reading my thesis from the beginning to end, importantly highlighting the key rationale of why and how my study was conducted and important findings and contributions of the thesis. At the same time a PhD friend within my research centre was due to undertake her Viva, as revision we did a mock Viva together, asking each other questions using the Viva cards provided by the Doctoral College. The exercise was a fantastic way to provide friendly feedback and advice on each other’s answers and share uplifting stories about what we have been up to, to raise our spirits during the lockdown and intense revision. Alongside the latter, I had a mock Viva with my supervisory team, another exercise which I would suggest to PhDs’ undertaking their Viva soon, due to the opportunity to practice questions with your supervisors who have expert experience undertaking a Viva themselves and conducting Viva’s also. As a result of doing the mock Vivas, I felt more confident and reassured that my revision was going well.

The PGR network at Coventry University is a great place to further find support during such times as preparing for your Viva or when continuing your doctoral study during these unprecedented times.

I added myself to the PGR Virtual Coffee Break Group on WhatsApp when revising, I found the group supportive and a hub of knowledge. In particular, I shared in the group that I had an upcoming Viva and fellow colleagues contributed to the conversation with their experience of revision, Viva and shared literature on preparing for Viva. All of which was very helpful. I also reciprocated with information I knew to help others which further gave me that sense of belonging to the PGR community. The WhatsApp group is definitely a great community to be part of at all stages of PhD, as the platform provides encouragement, guidance and an opportunity to share your thoughts on PhD which makes you feel like you’re not in this journey alone.

Managing a healthy work/life balance is important to me, which may seem more problematic during lockdown. However, since moving back to Yorkshire after PhD submission I am grateful to live in the countryside, especially at this time of year when everything is coming into blossom and the sun is thankfully shining. The open space on my doorstop has allowed me to take short walks with family members from my household as downtime during revision which uplifts my mood and gives me a break to take in the amazing scenery which I have missed when living in Coventry. The snap above is a glimpse into the passing fields that I walk past, definitely a great view on a sunny Yorkshire day.

If I were to share some advice to PhDs who have just submitted their PhD and await their Viva to be held online or are in the midst of revision for their upcoming Viva. I’d say reach out to family and friends along with the PGR community at Coventry University, share your thoughts and reflections and ask other PhDs about their experiences and tips to help you. Also, its important to take that break, be it a short walk keeping social distance, watching TV or video calling friends and family. As a last note, we should all remember to take care of each other and ourselves during these times.

Written by Rebecca Beech

Full-time PhD student 2016-2020

Faculty – FBL, Centre for Business in Society

Author bio

Rebecca submitted her PhD in January 2020, and successfully defended her thesis in April 2020, being awarded a PhD with minor corrections. The PhD title is – Understanding Knowledge Sharing on Twitter: Within the Context of Green Clothing, Rebecca’s research interests lie within, knowledge sharing, online communities and pro-environmental behaviour. To learn more about Rebecca’s research and to keep updated please follow her Twitter and LinkedIn pages – https://twitter.com/RebeccaBeechCU and https://www.linkedin.com/in/rebecca-beech-3b165359/.