It’s the General Election in the UK today. Today is a day for a decision – but then so is every day.

Every day is a series of decisions, some big, some small, some that don’t matter and many that do. There are decisions that only you care about, and decisions that you wish you didn’t have to make. There are decisions that will change things forever and some that are just one of many options that seem fairly similar – you have to pick something and so you do.

The PhD is a series of decisions. The viva might explore some of them. Which methodology did you pick and why? Why study this topic in this way? Why do X instead of Y? Why did you come to that conclusion? Why, why, why, why…

The PhD is a series of decisions that you make, and the viva is where you try to account for them. Some of them aren’t right or wrong – they just are. They need an explanation or an argument to support them. Your examiners may disagree or have a point of view that needs accounting for. “Why?” is a good place to start there too. Once it has been asked then there’s no place to hide: both parties need to listen, think and come to a conclusion.

Unpicking decisions can be a useful prep tool for the viva, both to strengthen arguments and prepare for answers.