Responding To A Problem

As you prepare for your viva you might come across a problem in your thesis.

I don’t mean a typo or a simple bit of editing that you’ve missed: typos and clunky sentences can still be understood, even if they’re undesirable. You could underline them and correct them later after your viva.

problem is different.

Maybe it’s not immediately obvious what’s wrong, but you can just tell that something isn’t right. Maybe you understand what’s wrong but it will be tricky to correct. And on top of that, maybe you’re concerned because this is a problem in something that you’ve submitted and you’re going to have a conversation about this very soon!

Deep breath.

And another.

OK. Now move forward.

If you find a problem, first of all pause, reflect and review.

What’s the situation? What do you understand or not? Can you do something about this?

If you can understand it all, then make a plan. Do you need to do something practically or just make notes? Is this going to be a big piece of work or something small? And how could you approach this in the viva? Can you wait to see if your examiners bring it up, or do you need to raise the topic?

Do the work, whatever it is, depending on the situation.

problem found during your viva prep is not the end. It’s the start of a series of actions to resolve the situation. And though a problem might stand out there’s a lot more of your thesis that is absolutely what it should be and a lot you can do to resolve anything that needs your attention now.