What Could I Do?

I’m fond of short questions. After a chance conversation in a workshop last month I’ve been reflecting a lot on “What could I do?”

“What could I do?” is, I think, at the heart of the research process. It’s the problem-solving question. “What could I do?” starts the journey, long or short, to the next step.

Need more feedback than you’re currently getting? What could I do?

Unsure if you’ll hit your submission deadline? What could I do?

Not feeling quite prepared? What could I do?

Examiner just challenged you with a comment? What could I do?

Around the end of the PhD, in preparation for the viva and in the viva itself, What could I do? is one of the strongest questions you could bring to bear on any challenge.

PhD done and looking for your next challenge? What could I do?

(What couldn’t you do?)

Flip It

Instead of wondering if your thesis is good, first ask yourself what you look for in a good thesis. What do people generally want?

Instead of worrying about what questions your examiners might ask, start by thinking about what questions would be in your mind when you first pick up a thesis. How would you start to unpick a large book of new research?

Instead of hoping you’ll be ready for your viva, ask what you would need to feel ready. What would you need to have or be to feel confident on viva day?

Whenever you encounter a doubt, flip it around. What can you do about it? Got an idea? Go do it.