Not Knowing

The more I do, the more I find I don’t know!

This sentiment was shared by a generous participant at a recent viva help webinar I ran. Before I had a chance to respond the chat was filled with thumbs up emojis, hearts and five people writing “Same!” and “Me too!”


A thesis takes years of work. A candidate learns and grows and develops – and discovers that there is still more they don’t know. Despite all the work. More papers. More books. More ideas. More questions and more answers to explore.

Not knowing something might feel pretty bad depending on the day or the situation. The viva is perhaps a singularly uncomfortable environment to realise you don’t know something. The weeks and months leading up to then could be pretty hard too. Knowing you have done so much and knowing that there is so much you still don’t know.

(and knowing, in some cases, that there are things you almost certainly will never know)


The more I do, the more I find I don’t know!

If this sounds familiar, focus on the first clause: you’re doing something. You know things. You are making something. You are finding things.

Before you focus on what you don’t know, take a long time to examine, explore and record what you know – and remember that this will be enough for your viva.