Alternative Routes

Things happen during a PhD. Deadlines slip, feedback is delayed or a promising idea reveals a sticky situation that has to be avoided. Plans change and alternatives must be found.

One way or another you get the research done. You get your thesis written and finally your viva is close at hand. While getting ready it can be useful to reflect on the paths not taken. Reflecting on alternatives can show why they were not taken, how your route was the right one or give you a fuller picture of the situation.

  • Some routes will not have worked and would never work. A poor idea or lack of time perhaps, or an idea that just wasn’t quite developed enough.
  • Some routes could have been perfect – but there were reasons why you didn’t take them. In preparation for potential questions in the viva, what were those reasons?
  • Some routes are only visible with hindsight. With the benefit of experience you know a less treacherous path or a shortcut to avoid obstacles.

Looking back at possibilities is helpful in preparation for the viva. It shows learning, it highlights your progress and helps you to demonstrate your ability as a researcher.

You’re near the end now. You can’t go back and take a different route. You can be aware of the alternatives and what they mean.