Using “Plan, Do, Reflect, Review”

I’ve got a lot of help from remembering the Plan, Do, Reflect, Review cycle for projects and work over the last decade or so. I like to think of it simply as:

Make a plan, do the work, reflect on what happened and review what you learned from it all.

While you might use this process a lot during the PhD, it’s kind of lopsided when you apply it as a lens to the whole PhD experience. Making a plan and doing a work is most of the time, the reflection comes in towards the end as you finish writing up and start preparing for the viva. Then the review is the viva itself.

I’ve often written about the need to make a plan (even a small one!) for viva prep time, and you can’t prepare for the viva without doing some work, but it would be really wrong to leave out the other two points of reflect and review.

It’s not just what did you do? and what did you learn? Use that review to think about how you can be confident for the viva. What experiences have got you this far? How have the last few years developed your knowledge and talent?

And how will they help you to succeed in the viva?

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