Lightbulb Moments

What were your lightbulb moments during your PhD? When did you find yourself getting something, suddenly, maybe inexplicably, like someone just flicked a switch? What was happening? What had you tried already? How did you make that connection?

Last year, I wrote about a real lightbulb moment during my PhD. It’s no exaggeration to say that this idea, when applied, helped me to write three chapters of my thesis. It was a tiny result that allowed many others. It came to me like magic.

But it wasn’t.

It was work.

It came after weeks of exploration. Lots of failed attempts. Dozens of diagrams, calculations and notes that went around and around. And then the answer came, after work has made it possible to see the connection.

Sometimes results or ideas in research seem to come out of nowhere. Conclusions jump out from a sea of ideas and data. They’re a product of work, not luck.

Look back over your PhD before the viva. Find your lightbulb moments, then deconstruct them. How did you get to that moment when the light came on?

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