Not To Plan

Over the last two years of your PhD journey I can imagine that there’s a lot that hasn’t gone according to plan.

That’s always the way with a PhD. You prepare and you think and you plan and then you work. As you work things change, for one reason or another – sometimes even in positive ways – but never quite according to plan.

But in these last two years things might not have gone to plan for some fairly big, world-changing reasons. Your research and the course of your PhD might have shifted a lot because of the pandemic. Access to supervisors, materials, resources and even your department might have been restricted. Day-to-day life might, at times, have been disrupted to the point where you just had to stop your research or change course completely.

While life continues to move ever on, and hopefully in a positive direction, the shadow of the last two years might fall over your thesis and your viva. Missed opportunities. Projects halted. Plans changed. Now you have to present your thesis and defend it.

If at times this worries you then remember: your examiners lived through this time too. They know what has happened. They know what an impact it could have on your work. They will understand.

As you prepare, reflect on the changes to your plans. How have your plans changed? What would you have hoped for from your original plans? What do the changes really mean for your thesis?

Importantly, do what you can to remind yourself that despite all of the changes and problems you still did the work. You have still done something that matters. It’s different to what you had planned but it’s still enough.