Abasi really is in the final stretches of his PhD voyage. It’s time to pick the external member of his panel. This role is always a wild card: it could make your viva experience either a 1-hour short ego booster, or a 5-hours long living hell of questioning. He ponders:
Who to choose as your external PhD committee member?
Lots of variables to consider here, and potentially lots of politics to keep in mind. The standard choice is to pick someone you worked with during your PhD. This should ensure smooth sailing during the viva: you likely won’t be given a tough time if all the members of your committee co-authored or will co-author papers with you. That is, if they don’t hate you. Or their work with you. Or their work. Big “if”, I know. You also need to consider the relationship between your supervisor and the external committee member. Are there any past grudges? Will these be taken out on you, the academic heir of your supervisor? Will they take this opportunity to point out how they believe that the whole research program of your supervisor is garbage? Twisted, but not unheard of. Granted, this will make for a good show for all who gathered there to see, but this may not be something you want for your friends and family that travelled there just to support you on this very special day.
And after all is said and done you will have to consider: do you want all the committee member at your post-viva celebration? I personally suggest someone which you enjoy having a couple of pints with. Just a couple though. If you invited a party animal you may end up having to clean up after them and apologizing for their behaviour to the department the day after. That surely will be a story to tell your grandchildren, but then again, you probably don’t want that for your own party. Or do you?
The choice is yours.
The Sassy Scientist
PS: I would make either an excellent or a dreadful choice as an external committee member. It surely would be fun. For me.