Advice = Options

If you’re finishing your PhD then you will know a lot of people who have advice for you (sometimes whether you want it or not).

Friends, colleagues, supervisors, researcher-development staff, random internet people with their daily blogs… How do you decide who to listen to and what to do, particularly when it’s for something as important as getting ready for your viva?

First, consider the source: do they have experience, knowledge or understanding of what they’re talking about? Or are they just repeating what they’ve heard on the grapevine?

Second, consider the context: is the advice specific or vague? Did you ask for it or was it just offered? Does it meet your needs?

Third, consider your situation: can you put this advice into practice? Do you feel that it will be of benefit?

Let’s be charitable and say that any advice you’re offered is, in some way, well-intentioned.

Advice gives you options: it gives ready-made ideas for what you could do, but you might need something different. You don’t have to accept it. You can say thank you but leave it to one side. You could be inspired to do your own thing and make your own option.

Ask for advice, listen to advice but make sure the option you take fits your needs and circumstances.