After nearly ten years since the end of my PhD, and countless times that my thesis has been in and out of the protective wrapper I keep it in, the gold letters on the spine are starting to gradually fade away.
Which got me thinking about the material in there. Is that disappearing too? How valuable is it now? Has it been superseded, extended, built on or ignored in favour of other things? I don’t know. I was a pure mathematician, and I think we like to think of ourselves as making permanent contributions to knowledge. Proof is proof!
Although I got there first, someone else could find something even more valuable. I’d be referenced (I hope) and my work would have served it’s purpose, but that’s that. Things change. Things move on.
How long will your accomplishments matter? How long until someone does something bigger, better or just different? It’s worth thinking about. It’s not self-defeating, it’s just honest. Help yourself define what your contribution really means. Why does it matter? And for how long?
And how might you frame that in the viva?