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Academic viva for intercollegiate exam

  • You will be given two papers to read in the space of one hour
  • There is no longer a need to submit two of your own abstracts
  • Read the shorter paper first
  • Write notes directly on the paper
  • Have two different colour highlighter pens with you
    • One colour for the good pints
    • Another colour for the bad points
  • Decide which paper you would prefer to discuss - you might get to choose!
  • The academic viva is not simply an exercise in statistics
  • For each paper consider the following point

Title, authors, institution

  • Is the title of the paper clear
  • Is the subject of the paper relevant and important
  • Does it come from an academic institution or smaller hospitals
  • Are the numbers of authors appropriate
  • Do the authors have a credible reputation in this field


  • Is it short and succinct
  • Does it clearly set the background to the paper
  • Are all relevant references included
  • Is the discussion of previous studies balanced
  • Are the aims of the current study clearly stated


  • Determine the type of study
  • From the type of study determine the level of evidence it will produce
  • Decide whether the type of study is appropriate to the question asked
  • Are inclusion and exclusion criteria stated
  • Are the primary and secondary outcome measures stated
  • Has an appropriate statistical method been used


  • Can all subjects be accounted for
  • Were the baseline measures of the groups similar
  • Are the results clearly stated in the text, figures or tables
  • Are there any discrepancies between the text and table


  • Have appropriate conclusions been drawn from the data presented in this paper
  • How does this compare with other peoples experiences


  • Are the references up to date


  • Summarise the paper in 5-6 sentences
  • Pick out both the good and the bad points
  • Form and opinion as to whether you think it is good, average or poor paper
  • Decide whether it will change your practice
  • Decide how you would have designed the study differently

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