The Whitaker Institute held an online panel event about the PhD Viva on 23rd September 2020. Targeted at students in the final 12 months of their PhD, the event was fully subscribed, with 60 students registering to attend. As the event was online, attendees joined in from around the world, including PhD students currently located in Ireland, UK, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, and the UAE.
The event was organised and chaired by Dr Elaine Wallace, Associate Director of the Whitaker Institute. Attendees interacted through a virtual Q&A session addressed to a panel including Dr Ciara Smyth (Vice Dean for Graduate Studies, College of Business, Public Policy and Law) who presented helpful guidance about the Viva regulations and procedures; Dr Eoin Cullina, PhD graduate, who spoke about his recent Viva experience; Professor Mary Cawley (Adjunct Professor of Migration and Rural Societal Change in the Whitaker Institute), who provided a PhD examiner’s perspective on the Viva, and Ms Anna Marie Leonard (Graduate Studies Manager), who provided advice regarding the rules and regulations for PhD submission, the Viva, and post-viva follow up.
The Q&A format worked very well, with attendees raising questions about the submission and Viva process, the selection of external examiners, the role of the examiners and Viva chair, presenting during the viva, and managing changes after the viva. In addition, questions arose regarding the process under current Covid-19 restrictions. In addition to the panel’s advice, attendees were provided with recordings of panelist presentations, and invaluable resources from NUI Galway Graduate Studies: a link to the University Guidelines for Research Programmes, the PhD Viva Guide, and an FAQ link for Postgraduate Researchers.
A feedback survey immediately following the event indicated an overall satisfaction rating of 5/5. In particular, attendees praised the practical advice provided by the panelists, and the guidance they received on the submission and Viva processes. They also commented that they appreciated hearing others’ experiences and advice, which ‘demystified’ the process for them. The comments below illustrate attendees’ overall assessment of the session:
- “Many thanks for this morning, the presentation and the discussions were very informative”.
- “That was very helpful and informative and will certainly build confidence in engaging with the process”
- “Now I have a better idea how to plan as I go forward and prepare for the completion of my study”
- “Excellent advice, thank you all so much”