Talents and Skills

There are two main outputs from a PhD programme: a thesis and a person.

It’s easy to see what’s new in a thesis perhaps; less easy to see how a person has changed. Take time to explore your qualities as you get closer to the viva. A useful resource might be Vitae‘s Researcher Development Framework. It is partly a breakdown of all of the skills and attributes that an effective researcher might have, but there are lots of supporting tools for making sense of them too.

What can you do now that you couldn’t before your PhD? How are you now more skilled? And what are you going to do with your talents and skills when your PhD is over?


The viva is often framed as the top of the mountain after an epic climb. It’s taken a long time, a lot of work, but finally you reach the summit of your PhD. Some people take the story even further, “it’s all downhill from here, hahaha…”

I think it’s more accurate to see your thesis submission as the summit. The viva comes a little later. The viva is talking about the climb, how you did it, what worked, what didn’t and maybe how it compares to other climbs.

While you’re up at the summit though, pause, look around. What’s on the other side of your PhD-mountain? Where are you going to go next?