What can I do in the viva if my research is boring?


This was a tough question to hear at a webinar.

My first instinct was to turn the question around and ask, “Well, why do you think your research is boring?” but this was a group webinar and not a coaching session. Thinking or feeling that something is boring is related to perception: how someone sees something might not represent what that situation is really like, at least not fully.

There’s no shortcut to magically fix thinking if you feel your research is boring, difficult or highly specialised; a little reflection on one or more of the following questions could help:

  • Why did you want to do research in this area?
  • What is valuable about your contribution?
  • What is original about your thesis?
  • What have you enjoyed in exploring this topic?

If we think or feel that something is dull we can’t click our fingers or push a button to change that. Asking the right question, taking time to reflect and consider can help shift our perceptions. The process of doing your research could be boring at times – I remember the feeling well! – but perhaps with the right question you can get excited regardless.