Let’s make some assumptions about your PhD:

  • you didn’t plagiarise;
  • you didn’t falsify results;
  • you didn’t try to misrepresent anything in your work.

All fair? Then there can’t really be any skeletons in your research closet. Maybe there are realisations you feel you “should” have had sooner. Maybe there are questions or ideas that you groan at having considered. None of these are shameful secrets though. You might not feel like telling everyone about them, but they don’t disqualify you.

Fundamental question about your PhD: were you honest? Yes?

Good. Then everything else helped you learn. Your mistakes have helped you grow to be the talented researcher you most definitely are.


Barriers. They’re in the way; maybe the way around them isn’t known, but they can usually be broken or overcome with time and investigation.

Hurdles are flimsy barriers. You can see hurdles from a distance and make plans to clear them. This might not make it an always easy task, but you can know in advance what you need to do. You can prepare and you can act, you don’t have to just hope.

Hurdles for the end of the PhD include:

  • Who should be my examiners?
  • When will my thesis be done?
  • How should I prepare?
  • What will my viva be like?

These can be worrying questions for the PhD, sometimes hard to resolve – but they’re all only hurdles. These are problems that have been overcome thousands of times before. You can overcome them too.

Ask for help if you need it, but clear the hurdles when they come around.