Apologies for not getting this up sooner. It’s taken a bit more time to process than I had anticipated.
As I posted last, my viva was on Tuesday. I was terribly nervous and anxious, as you might expect. As someone who suffers from anxiety, it was a bit more than that, and it took a fair bit of chemical assistance to get me to the point where I wasn’t literally trembling (or covered head to toe in hives).
I actually slept the night before. I had had visions of being awake all night or waking up at 3 am wide awake in a panic. I laid in bed until about 8 and then got up to get ready for the day. Steph walked with me to Starbucks and uni and stayed with me until I had to go and meet my advisor. It wasn’t too long until we were called in.
They started off by saying that they wanted this to be a conversation, rather than an interrogation, and I was terribly relieved. I didn’t think it was going to be an inquisition, but I had read enough on the subject to be wary of the types of examiners.
I don’t specifically remember all of the questions, but I know the first one was in reference to how I decided on this subject area. I was glad for this question, as it was easily answered, and it certainly helped put me a bit more at ease. More specific questions went on from there, even getting as specific as page numbers, paragraphs, and sentences, which again I found helpful as I had a copy of my thesis right there to refer to.
The last question was sort of a surprise but not. I was asked if I were to present my findings at a conference of head teachers, what four key points would I like to share. (It had been mentioned at a meeting I had in preparation for the viva that I might be asked about what I thought this research could lead to policy wise, so I had a think on this before the viva.) I hadn’t done a lot of research into policy, nor do I have a very good handle on how the Scottish school system works overall. But what I do know is how teachers think and as a former teacher, I used this knowledge combined with the information from my interviews as well as common sense to answer the question.
After this question was answered, they thanked me, and I was sent on my way while they deliberated. My supervisor was very pleased with my answers, which was good. We both thought we would have an hour or so before they called us back in. It was about 15 minutes later, when we got the call.
And this is where I really panicked. I didn’t feel like that was a very long deliberation, so it was either really good, or really shit.
I was very relieved when they told me that they wouldn’t keep me in suspense. I was a bit worried about that, to be honest. I wasn’t sure how long I could sit there and not know! When they told me I had passed, I really was quite shocked. As most people know, this entire process throughout the PhD was fraught with many issues, both personal and professional and there were many times that I did not think I would get this far, and if I did get this far, I’d be laughed out of the room.
So, now what? I have three months to make my corrections (nothing seriously troublesome and nothing unexpected) and that’s that. I’ll be awarded my PhD at the next graduation in Spring 2017. I also need to think about publishing results and finding a job.
And last but not least, that last viva question, wasn’t a trick. It was a serious question as I will possibly be doing such a presentation (or presentations) in the near future. I would also like to consider other ways of disseminating my research findings, but I’ve not come up with an answer for that yet. A professional blog or twitter? Things to consider for 2017.