It’s natural to not want to talk about challenging parts of work or research in your viva. It’s human to focus on the good stuff and hope you won’t need to explain something tricky. It’s not wrong to be worried or have concerns about what might happen.

Rather than simply worry, maybe it’s better to confront the problem and do something – even something small – to improve the situation.

  • Can you think of a paper you struggled to understand? Take another look and find one thing you can make more sense of now.
  • Is there a concept in your field you often struggle to explain? Try again. Find the tricky point and come up with an idea.
  • Do you know of a question you really don’t want to be asked in your viva? Spend ten minutes unpicking why you don’t want it, what the issue is and what you could do to respond to it.

The viva is full of challenges, big and small, simple and complicated. Not all of them can be known in advance, but if you are aware of challenges don’t simply avoid them. Spend a little time exploring why it’s a challenge – then a little more on how you could engage with it.

Do more than worry.