viva in 3 weeks: big errors and terrified


I am life sciences student and have my viva (3wk this Wed)- to say I'm terrified is an understatement.

What's made it worse is I have spotted some repetitive errors in a Chapter which I know is caused from copying and pasting Fig legends- my fault completely (I evidently didn't pay due care and attention) and me and my supervisor did not see these pre-submission. My thesis is quite a large one with alot of repetitive data (which will probably annoy the examiners already) and now I have spotted all these errors I feel so hopeless. On the plus side the description of the data is right in the text but a number of the legends have sloppy errors.

I already have little confidence in my work and this has really knocked me. Does anyone know if after a certain number of errors -does a thesis have to constitute major corrections or if I identify the errors (in a typed list) could this still constitute minor corrections?

Can't tell you how much is riding on the viva. My PhD was 4 years but only funded for 3- so I had to self fund for a year which pretty much bankrupted us. I found out yesterday I have a job offer (post viva) but I am worried sick about failing/ having to go back in academia to get more data as it could cost the job/house as we can't manage any-more.

Any help or advice would be much appreciated- should I draw attention to these mistakes with the examiners (I would correct them anyway pre-final submission)?? I am already so scared to tell my supervisor.


Make a list of all the errors you spot and take it into the viva with you. However, don't hand this over but wait until if or when these are raised by the examiners. That's what I'd do (I've completed my PhD). I know it's easy to say but try not to worry as there's nothing you can do about it now.

Good luck for the day itself.(up)


Firstly, you need to be confident when appearing in front of your examiners. Remember and kindly make you mind that you know better than the examiners. The examiner could be expert in the field, but you are the one who spend 4 years working on the same narrowed subject. When you appear, bring along a copy of your thesis and a blank sheet of paper. Title the blank sheet of paper Amendments and left section of the paper, just scribble Page. The idea is that to inform Examiners indirectly that you have appear well prepared to accept any correction going to be suggested by the examiner. Defence yourself constructively, but when you noticed that the examiner is pressing in the same point, then just back off, let the examiner win. Remember don’t be obstinate to argue for the point that you think genuinely the examiner was wrong. In my viva, I found the Prof was ignorance on some fact and still insisting he was right, I merely smile and agree with him. After all, the examiners are human too, so if you notice any change of face that you could easily detect, go easy, immediately back off from the point you are arguing. Don’t worry, always remember that examiner is there to pass you. Cos it is a headache to provide reasons and follow up if she/he fails you. Keep your list of errors with you and remain cool. Attend the viva confidently. Usually, the examiner also won’t notice the errors you had made. Above is a penny thought based on my experience completing doctorate in UK in 2.5 years and viva voce in 2.5 hours successfully.Cheers



Hi Anteloop,

I passed my viva in March, so I can remember exactly how it feels in the run up, and it is not nice! I couldn't sleep, was barely eating, and just felt sick at the thought of failing. I had a job lined up which was dependent on passing, and so I had the same mortgage worries as you.

Those errors you have mentioned - THEY ARE NOT BIG!! I cannot emphasise this enough. Everyone makes little errors like that in their thesis, your examiners might not even notice them! What I did was make a list of any errors I spotted, and then I went through my thesis and corrected them all. Then, when my examiners raised the issue at the end of my viva, I pointed out that I was already aware of the errors and had addressed them. Therefore they knew I was on top of it and it wouldn't take me that long to complete the other minor errors they had spotted.

The other advice you have been given is also important - no matter how you are feeling, try and act confident and relaxed in the viva. I know full well how hard this is (I thought I was going to be sick the whole way through!) but smile, take deep breaths and stay calm. They do want you to pass, and the viva is there to help you really sell your research and maybe explain any little points that aren't quite clear in your writing. Don't build it up in your head to be some terrible negative ordeal to get through - the vast majority of vivas are not like that, they are fairly relaxed, and mine even felt quite chatty and pleasant at times! I genuinely expected to scrape a pass with major corrections as I had very little confidence in my work - I was so surprised to be out in just over an hour with a list of minor corrections that took me under half an hour to complete!

So please try not to panic, things are nowhere near as bad as you imagine them to be - I had made some really silly errors like the ones you have described and it was no big deal, especially if the examiners can see that they are just typos. As long as the research is sound, a bit of sloppy editing is nothing to worry about. Don't waste any more time worrying about it, get on with your viva prep, and best of luck! If I can survive a viva then anyone can ;-)


Hey Anteloop,

Seriously, you don't need to worry about these sorts of errors. I handed my thesis in in a big rush as my deadline got brought forwards (long story) and afterwards I found so many typos etc I was mortified. Most of them the examiners didn't even spot- even one where the first 4 pages of a lit review table were completely missing due to a cut and paste error! Just take a list of them in with you, wait until the end and just say that you noticed some typos that you'd like to correct for the final version. They won't bat an eyelid! So concentrate on preparation and building your confidence up- don't give these sorts of errors another thought! And even if they request you to change them as minor corrections it really doesn't matter- you'll get them done in no time. Loads of luck with it all, KB


Thanks everyone for the kind words of advice and encouragement-its really helped.

I have made my list of errors- so going to take it along and mention it (if the mistakes are raised in the viva). I'm trying to keep calm and positive-just got so upset/lost all perspective yesterday when I first found all the problems :(


Good luck with your viva Anteloop. Swetch


Good luck with your viva Anteloop. Swetch