Hi Craig, congratulations on passing your viva!

What was your PhD title?

The Harkive Project: popular music, data, and digital technologies

Can you explain in a couple of sentences what your PhD was about?

I was interested in the relationship between of digital, data and Internet technologies and popular music culture. I ended up exploring how knowledge is ‘created’ through technical systems, and what the potential questions are that this leads us towards. I did this through a practice-led engagement with such technologies: I peered under the hood. I argued that humanities scholars – and, indeed, all of us – need to arrive at better, more reflexive relationships with these technologies and the practices associated with them. I hope that I showed how such a thing is possible. 

Can you sum up your PhD experience in three words? 

Rewarding. Worthwhile. Voyage.

What was the viva like?

The viva was actually a pleasant experience, despite my nervousness going into it. It was a great discussion with some experienced academics about the issues and questions key to my research. In that respect, it did not feel like an exam at all.

What are your top tips to someone preparing for their viva?

I think you should be confident that, by the time you reach VIVA stage, you are the one person who knows the most about your thesis. I tried to re-read mine ahead of my viva, but I found this was almost impossible; I knew almost every word, and how one idea followed the next. Remember that you are being assessed on both your work, but also on the fact that you are the person that did it.

Any advice you’d tell your earlier PhD self now you’ve made it to the other side?

That is a difficult question. Many people who had been through the process told me that they were never certain about what they had done, or indeed what they were arguing or contributing, until almost the very last moment. I could never square this in my mind in the early stages, but it is absolutely true. There comes a tremendous moment of clarity towards the end that you never would envisage. You simply have to keep working and trust that it will come. It does come, eventually!

What are you up to now and any exciting plans for the future?

I’m currently working as a Visiting Tutor at BCU and am also involved in several research projects. This is keeping me going while I await the results of several fellowship applications I currently have on the go. My focus has been singular for 3 years – with everything working towards a point – and the tricky thing now is to think longer term, in an uncertain environment, in order to make the most of my doctorate and the opportunities it brings.

Please add anything else if you’d like

To anyone reading this who is struggling, or who is considering a PhD but feels ill-equipped, I would offer hope. With determination, and an idea you are passionate about, the possibilities are endless. You are limited only by your imagination.

Thanks so much for your time Craig, we wish you all the best for the future!

My pleasure!

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