Sunday, 7 April 2013

Post viva questionnaire - responses from Rita Wan-chik

Rita Wan-chik successfully defended her PhD thesis on 28th February 2013.  She agreed to complete our questionnaire, and her responses are below.  Many thanks Rita!

What is the title of your thesis?
Religious information seeking on the web: A study of Islamic and Qur’anic information searching.

Can you provide an abstract (for inclusion in this blog)?
See Abstract.

How long did you spend preparing for your viva? 
To be honest, I only started to prepare for the viva about a week from the viva date although I wish I could’ve started earlier. I’d planned to read the whole thesis at least 2 or 3 times but only really managed to do it ONE time. Other than reading my own thesis, I also read all the papers that have greatly influenced my research and papers by both examiners (their selected studies which are related to my research). I also tried to answer some of the popular viva questions which I have compiled from the web and from friends.

How long did your viva take? 
Almost 2 hours. It was an afternoon session.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently? 
I wish I could’ve planned better for my research methods and data collection and that I should’ve started writing my thesis way earlier so that I didn’t have to dump everything at the end. I am one of those people who wait and only write when there are a lot of things to write about. 

Did the examiners concentrate on any particular section of your thesis? If so, which? 
Yes, the concentration was mainly on my Literature Review, Methodology and Discussions chapters. The examiners thought that my LR needed more depth and breadth to the discussions of the literatures and that the scope of my LR was not clearly indicated. We also discussed on the justification for choosing a mixed-methods approach and the data collection techniques employed in my study.

Can you describe any part of your viva where you were pleased with your performance? What was it you did that pleased you? 
I was quite pleased with myself on the way that I managed to answer almost every question asked by the examiners, although only the would know which responses were really answering their questions (J), but I did try my best to explain. I was also pleased when one of the examiners pointed out that I have done quite a great job with one of the data analysis techniques carried out in my study (although I still need to add a lot more clarifications on some of the steps taken to improve the repeatability of my research).

Can you describe any part of your viva where you were dissatisfied with your performance? 
I am pretty much satisfied with my performance and the whole viva process.

Please give an example of a question that you found hard. 

What was the outcome of your viva? 
The examiners were happy to recommend the award of PhD to me subject to minor amendments.

Please give some examples of the sort of corrections you need to make (if any).

  • Further detail on the procedure for the interviews, e.g., on how follow-up questions were asked (p.37), to probe responses, would be helpful.
  • “Throughout … lengths.” On page 39 requires clarification. 
  • Page 41. Further detail on how the codes, subcategories and themes were developed, e.g., bottom-up or top-down, would be helpful. 
  • A diagram of the final themes, categories and codes should be provided in the Results chapter.
Do you have any tips for looking and feeling confident in front of the examiners?

  • Get good sleep and rest on the day and night before the viva.
  • Don’t force yourself to try to read everything or as much as you can a few days before the viva.
  • Start preparing early so that you can do it gradually. You will know when you just need to stop preparing.
  • Don’t stress yourself out.

Can you think of any good advice that you would give to students who are preparing for their viva?

Talking to your friends about your study can help you to answer confidently in viva. It is like doing rehearsals, only it’s unofficial and more relaxed. You can try to improve yourself on the answers which did not get good responses. By trying to answer the popular viva questions (you can find this from the web), can also help you to prepare for the viva. It did help me.

I’d also like to add, for those who are still in the process of writing their thesis, make sure you get somebody within your research group, other than your own supervisor(s), to read your final thesis. Let them comment on things that need more clarification and then make those amendments accordingly. People within your group may be able to see the ‘holes’ that you and your supervisor(s) may have missed or underestimated. 

All the best to you!