Last year I had what I thought was a bright idea: I would create a Patreon campaign to support the production of the Viva Survivors Podcast. An ongoing patronage programme where people who wanted to fund the creation of a resource sharing PhD and viva experiences could – completely opt-in and no barriers or paywalls in front of the episodes. That’s the very last thing that I want.
I had high hopes and then… nothing! No patrons, no enquiries, nothing. And then after a couple of months a piece of EU legislation around VAT and digital sales came in, and I had to take down the campaign anyway (it would put me in an incredibly difficult position to have to register for VAT, and the application of the rules to platforms like Patreon are not clear yet).
In case you didn’t already know – like I don’t talk about it enough – I produce the Viva Survivors Podcast. It’s an ongoing project of interviews with PhD graduates about “their research, their viva, and life after the PhD.” It came out of a desire to share the stories of what the viva was like for people; I had an idea that the horror stories that everyone seems to know about were, for the most part, myths – I wanted to share real stories. I was, and still am, delivering viva preparation workshops, and I thought as well that by learning more about what people had done to prepare for their vivas I would be able to help PhD candidates more.
I also thought it might be a lot of fun to do! And as time went on I realised what a tremendous learning experience it was for me too.
I’ve been producing the Viva Survivors Podcast for around two and a half years now, and every now and then I get asked questions about how I do it and how everything works. One side of it is the interviewees and their stories, and I ask (a lot!) for volunteers to come and share their stories. Then there is the nuts and bolts of how I produce episodes. Podcasting is often seen as a useful means to communicate research and ideas about doing research, so I thought I would take an opportunity to talk about the tools and services that I use. Hopefully this is helpful to someone reading!
Is it time for another catch up post? What happened to the last two weeks? Oh that’s right! I was out of the house delivering several workshops and facilitating one of Liverpool’s First Year Development Workshops – busy times! Fun times though. I’ve got a couple of other little projects that I’ve been pushing forward – I had cause to tweet the following a few days ago:
Fun Fact: Creating a folder in your Work directory called “Product Development” can lead to a big smile on your face. It just did for me. 😀
After the Patreon post, I posted a total of six posts in my “Common Qs About The Viva” series, and there are more on this blog as well – and more to come! Do you have a question about the PhD viva? Let me know and maybe it will be the subject of a post in the future.
If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I produce the Viva Survivors Podcast. This is a project of mine where I interview PhD graduates about their research, their viva and life after the PhD. I’ve always hoped that it was a great way to help PhD candidates realise that the viva is going to be OK – it’s not a mystery, there are things to expect and there are things that people can do to prepare.
I realised after a while that it was also a really great way to tell people more generally about research. Someone starting a PhD can listen to the podcast and find out a bit about what doing research is like, as well as learning about a really cool research topic. At the time of writing, there are 28 episodes in the archive, and I’m well on track to hit my target of 32 by the end of the year (and we’ll see if we can squeeze another one in for good measure!).
I want to do more: can you help?
In the last year I had to take time off from the podcast in order to adjust to becoming a dad! Now that I’ve stepped back up to it I’m enjoying it more than ever, and realising that I want to provide more. To help that process, I’ve created a Patreon campaign for the podcast. Patreon is a bit like Kickstarter, but whereas the latter is for a project that isn’t finished yet, Patreon is crowdfunding for ongoing efforts.
I’ve just started the campaign, but as support grows I’ll be able to spend more time on producing episodes, creating new content and expanding the output of the podcast. I have a couple of initial goals (like covering the cost of hosting, creating several pieces of writing each month and producing some focused tips-based episodes), but I also have big dreams. And I need your help to achieve both my goals and my dreams: providing a useful resource to postgraduate researchers in the UK and around the world.
So, can you help me?
If you can, great! The podcast will always be 100% free for everyone, and if you are able to become a Patron for the Viva Survivors Podcast then I can do some things to say thank you in return. I have a variety of things to begin with, like a “Thank You!” page of backers on the podcast, a pre-release notification that new content is coming to the site – and even early access to future episodes!
Patreon is straight-forward to set up, and it seems like a really useful way to support people creating things. Even if you don’t think that you can support the Viva Survivors Podcast at the moment, then have a look around and see what other amazing things people are doing.
Thanks for reading! I’ve really enjoyed the last two and a half years of producing the podcast, sharing the episodes and seeing it become a valuable resource. With your help I hope to continue this and do a lot more. Any help you can offer to support the Viva Survivors Podcast – by sharing the episodes, volunteering to share your story or becoming a Patron – is really appreciated.
A big reason is that this is a testbed for ideas. I alluded to this on Wednesday, but broadly speaking material that will appear here – material written by me – will at some point probably end up edited and reworked into books. Those books will probably cost money, but at the point here it will be totally free. You don’t have to pay any money or do anything in order to read it. You don’t have to sign up for anything, give me coin or contact details or even tell anyone in order to read these posts.
If you would like to tell people about this writing though, there are lots of ways to do that: follow me on Twitter (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors), like the Facebook page, put the Google+ page in one of your circles. I’ll be mentioning the Viva Survivors Podcast from time to time as new episodes come up, or if there is something new and interesting over there that I want to share more widely. Follow, like, put it in circles – and I’ll keep you up to date with posts and other things as they come up.