Questioning Weakness

There are many causes of doubt before the viva. One possibility is that a candidate believes some aspect of their research or thesis isn’t good enough. They find a weakness and then can do nothing but dwell on it.

If you find yourself in a similar position, reflect on one or more of the following:

  • Can you do anything about it at this point? If not, perhaps it would be better to reflect more on your research strengths – and your strengths as a researcher – than to focus on weaknesses.
  • Can someone help you explore this? Look to your supervisor or your friends and colleagues. Ask them to listen and help you find some way to move forwards.
  • How did your work come to have this weakness? It could be an accident, a mistake, a result of your research process, and so on. Knowing why it is there can help you to figure out what to do next.
  • How would you explain this in the viva? If a question or comment was about this aspect of your work, explore what you could say about it.

Finally, is it really a weakness? Are you seeing weakness when in fact there is just a small flaw that you are making into a bigger problem than it needs to be?