Never too early to prepare for the viva

I’ve recently read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami and found his story fascinating. His tone of writing is brisk and has transparent honesty, which I’m inspired by.

Also, I recently flicked through the book Stepping Stones to Achieving Your Doctorate and am getting addicted to reading about preparing for the viva.


My favourite skills guidebooks on doing a doctorate are:

1) The PhD Application Handbook by Peter J. Bentley

I would often read this book before and right after starting my PhD programme, making lots of notes. I loved some quotes and they’re still my favourite!

‘You are going to have to read a whole lot of rubbish during your research. Part of doing your doctorate is learning to distinguish between truth and elephants made from cheese.’ (p.115)


2) Stepping Stones to Achieving Your Doctorate: Focusing on Your Viva from the Start by Shosh Leshem and Vernon Trafford

I bought this book when I was in my first year but didn’t even open it at that time. Now, reaching the end of my third year, I’m attracted to the whole content about the viva and absorbing it.


3) How to Write a Thesis by Rowena Murray

4) Authoring a PhD: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Thesis or Dissertation by Patrick Dunleavy

These two books were recommended in a few research training sessions that I attended, and I found the books very inspiring for writers. They’re helpful for checking and improving the quality of academic writing.


These guidebooks may contain very generic answers, but the authors are good academic advisors giving direction with great caution.

While reading a section on the viva, I learnt that every detail of structure, presentation, formatting and pagination in drafts should not be underestimated. It’s so worthwhile to be aware of the viewpoints of examiners while you’re writing.

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