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Guest Blog – Tips and hints on surviving life post-thesis, pre-viva.

Handing in a piece of written work provides me with equal measures of satisfaction and loss. Each time I have submitted a journal article, a book manuscript or, most recently, my thesis, has been exciting. Yet tinged with a sense of loss- I confess I really enjoy the process of working through and writing these things up. Despite the, at times gruelling, days of writing, re-writing and forcing myself to work harder than usual I find it satisfying and am a little sad when it’s past. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t stop when I stop.

I have tried to reformat the ‘submission’ and consider the it a ‘beginning’. It is the start of the sharing process. Once out in the world it can have an impact on others. Whilst still sat on my desk no one but I knows or cares about what it says.

As a clinician and a researcher I want to develop work that makes a difference to a persons life. The idea that someone might read it and find it useful is fantastic. The idea that i can disseminate and cascade information – not just to one patient but to multiple health professionals and researchers and thus help multiple more patients means it is worth investing time and effort into writing, re-writing, editing, formatting, correcting and so forth. I am keen to develop the research field in this area even more, to push and inspire my profession to deliver the services people with dementia can benefit from.

One of my very wise mentors describes the PhD as the gateway to being able to apply for grants to do more of that research. It’s a funny feeling having submitted my thesis- I feel I am sat waiting on the doorstep of that gateway. In limbo. I just need to get through that viva to get to the beginning. With this in mind I have been gathering tips and hints to aid my viva preparation. I am sure many of these will seem obvious when I look back, but for now this is the wisdom I have collected from others and that I am going to try to apply in anticipation of my viva:

The one piece of advice that recurs is: enjoy it. I’m not sure that’s easy to do in anticipation – but it’s certainly really helpful that so many people report they did really enjoy it. Maybe a retrospective view will be useful too.


Author [1]

Anna Volkmer [2] is a Speech and Language Therapist and NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow working in Language and Cognition, Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London [3]. Anna is researching Speech and language therapy interventions in language led dementia and was once voted scariest speech and language therapist (even her children agree).

Follow @volkmer_anna [4]