Across time and space: Examiner and candidate experiences of online doctoral vivas
Many countries have doctoral viva examinations, mostly conducted in-person until the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explores the changing processes and experiences of doctoral vivas forced online, from the perspectives of three examiners (two Uk, one NZ) and one recent candidate (UK). It sheds light on remote viva examinations exploring experiences of examination rigour, opportunities to evidence ‘doctorateness’ and challenges and affordances of remoteness, home location and technology. We use autoethnography, focusing on our experiences including the personal, learning and institutional dimensions. We found virtual spaces had advantages (comfort) and disadvantages (emotional difficulties), and levels of worry were often higher, especially regarding IT. Online formats still enabled examiners to rigorously assess ‘doctorateness’, but duty of care is needed for candidates with anxiety exacerbated by the pandemic, or technology. Our study offers insiders’ insights into the remote online viva itself with recommendations for candidates, examiners and institutions.