found immense error after viva, feel like an impostor

posted
15-Jul-17, 21:40
edited about 24 seconds later
by l_e
Avatar for l_e
posted about 2 months ago
Ugh, this is literally keeping me up at nights. Viva went fine, everything's signed off on, but then a few days later as I was revising the dissertation I found an horrible error. My dissertation is basically qualitative political science; for one particular legal issue that I basically created the first comprehensive history of, I found out that it didn't end when I thought, and has been going on since with important stuff happening recently. If I hadn't caught it recently (and it was almost by pure chance that I did) I would have published this and destroyed my reputation right at the beginning of my career. The worst part is it was my "cheat" chapter -- basically it dealt with my prior professional field, so I don't even have the "newbie PhD" excuse. It doesn't change the central argument -- it actually supports it that these things have been happening -- but it just seems inexcusably careless.

Mentally I am having tremendous trouble dealing with this. I told my advisor but I don't think he gets the scope of this mistake. Another committee member who is closer to that issue probably will, though he's already signed off on it. It kind of takes a way a lot of the pride over finally getting the PhD. Anyone else ever deal with this kind of thing? I mean this won't (can't really) stop me from getting the degree, but now I feel like it's kind of a hollow victory.
posted
17-Jul-17, 10:24
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 months ago
I think most of us have gone through this at some point or another. Honestly, it doesn't matter, your viva is done, everything is finished. When you publish, just add in what you should have added in. No one will read your thesis in sufficient detail to notice the difference.
posted
19-Jul-17, 02:48
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From l_e:
Ugh, this is literally keeping me up at nights. Viva went fine, everything's signed off on, but then a few days later as I was revising the dissertation I found an horrible error. My dissertation is basically qualitative political science; for one particular legal issue that I basically created the first comprehensive history of, I found out that it didn't end when I thought, and has been going on since with important stuff happening recently. If I hadn't caught it recently (and it was almost by pure chance that I did) I would have published this and destroyed my reputation right at the beginning of my career. The worst part is it was my "cheat" chapter -- basically it dealt with my prior professional field, so I don't even have the "newbie PhD" excuse. It doesn't change the central argument -- it actually supports it that these things have been happening -- but it just seems inexcusably careless.

Mentally I am having tremendous trouble dealing with this. I told my advisor but I don't think he gets the scope of this mistake. Another committee member who is closer to that issue probably will, though he's already signed off on it. It kind of takes a way a lot of the pride over finally getting the PhD. Anyone else ever deal with this kind of thing? I mean this won't (can't really) stop me from getting the degree, but now I feel like it's kind of a hollow victory.


To be honest, I think the bigger problem is passing stuff off from your previous professional work as part of your PhD unless you made that explicitly clear in your thesis. What you have described as a "cheat chapter" sounds totally unethical but I may be misinterpreting your words.
As for your error, if you go through life thinking that every error will ruin your reputation then you are going to be scared to take risks and will struggle professionally. Even the best people make mistakes. They are part of life and you need to learn to deal with making them.
posted
19-Jul-17, 22:14
by l_e
Avatar for l_e
posted about 2 months ago
Thanks for the responses. It's more a psychological issue than a practical one; I even have time to fix the thesis itself. pm133, by "cheat" I only meant it was in the same field I used to work in, so I'm very comfortable with the data collection/interpretation and the analysis needed. It is not based on actual work I previously did.
posted
20-Jul-17, 10:25
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 months ago
So yep, you have no problem, just fix it. That's what I did, but these were only minor errors I made in writing the thesis.
posted
20-Jul-17, 20:26
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 months ago
Everyone makes mistakes. Do what you can to put it right if there is anything, and then when you've done that put it behind you.

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