The Anti-Top Ten Top Fives

Lists can be a good way to start reflections and summaries. I’ve previously shared Top Ten Top Fives and Ten More Top Fives as prompts to get candidates thinking about the best of their research. They can be a nice way to highlight valuable aspects of your PhD ahead of the viva.

But can we find something useful in taking another point of view? Looking at the negative or the worst aspects? Let’s see!

  1. Top Five Bad Papers You’ve Read!
  2. Top Five Worst Talks You’ve Attended!
  3. Top Five Frustrating Challenges Of Your PhD!
  4. Top Five Typos In Your Thesis!
  5. Top Five Examiners You Don’t Want!
  6. Top Five Mistakes You Made!
  7. Top Five Changes You Would Make!
  8. Top Five Things You Don’t Want In Your Viva!
  9. Top Five Ways You Could Improve Your Skills!
  10. Top Five Improvements You Could Make To Your Thesis!

Some of these might seem silly but remember: this is the start of a reflection or summary.

After you list these details, keep going. Ask why. Ask how. Ask what you learned from your mistakes. Think about how you overcame your challenges. Why were those papers bad? How would you improve your thesis?

Simply dwelling on the negative isn’t often helpful, but you can use it as a springboard to something great.