Today is the last day of the tax year in the UK, and time for me to take stock of things. I’m asking myself questions like:
How much came in? How much went out? How many invoices? Do I have all my receipts?
I need to answer these in order to fill out my tax return. But there are other questions I need to prompt myself with:
How many seminars did I deliver? To how many people? At how many universities?
I need to earn money, but I want to serve others. So it helps me to look into those details too and take stock. Nevermind the number of words I write here too! And there are still more questions I need to ask, because there are other important aspects of my life too:
How many hours did I work? When did I take breaks? When did I work overtime? When did I have proper holidays?
There are many, many more questions I could ask, which would take this little life and business and put it under the microscope. The answers would be useful for some people (including me) and interpreting those could help prompt future action (thinking about holiday times or working hours in the past can influence or change practices in the future, for example).
Taking stock is important. It’s essential before the viva.
You’ve asked a lot of questions to get you to where you are. Now, more questions are needed.
Some will come from your examiners, and you can prepare for them even if you can’t know what they will be necessarily. You can get practised through a mock viva or seminar, building your confidence for meeting them. You can ask yourself more questions to explore your research from new perspectives.
What have you done? How did you get here? What matters more?
You could use many questions to unpick and explore your research. Start with some big ones. Find a way to capture your thoughts rather than simply losing them to abstraction. And maybe share them with others to find opportunities to explore them more deeply.