Hi Siobhan, congratulations on passing your viva! How does it feel?

I still can’t quite believe it and since my viva work has really taken over so I haven’t had time to start my corrections, despite being minor, I’m worried if I don’t get on with it they might change their minds!


What was your PhD title?

Discourses of community radio: Social gain policies in practice


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

The thesis explores how three different community radio stations in Birmingham understand the social gain policy included in their community radio licence agreements and articulate each of the criteria in practice through their station to serve their own communities. 


Can you sum up your PhD experience in three words?

Hard, emotional, empowering


What was the viva like?

A really weird experience! I had practice questions and prepared answers to them and had been over the work and prepared to within and inch of my life, but when I was in the room some of the questions were so obvious they threw me and I stumbled.  It really helped having my DOS in there with me literally watching my back, but I had no idea how I had done when it was over.


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

There are generic practice questions which colleagues who have been through the process will no doubt be willing to share with you. Use these to prepare answers and make sure you bring these with you to the practice viva. 

Nobody knows your work better then you, but your panel will have read it for the first time and will no doubt have suggestions to improve your work, take on their suggestions on board graciously, but don’t be afraid to assert yourself when you have done something for a particular reason. It is your work


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

It is a process like making an omelette, you have to crack some eggs first and it takes time to cook all the way through. Don’t get too anxious during the process, you are not the first to doubt yourself or feel you will never finish and you definitely won’t be the last.  A good PhD is a finished PhD, but it will never be perfect. When you finish it and pass you can continue to improve your expertise and researching your area if you choose to.


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

I am working as a freelance researcher and oral history consultant using skills I learnt during the PhD. I am hoping to organise an international radio conference in 2020 and keeping my eyes open for interesting post-doc positions. Longer term, I would like to find a way of combining my interests in digital and media literacy training in community environments and radio production as a tool for building skills and aspiration and helping people to represent themselves on their own terms.


Congratulations, Dr Stevenson!!

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