My VIVA is in 2 months (nerve train) please are there any others out there like me?

28-May-20, 02:53
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for Ladybird
posted about 2 months ago
At the moment, I have to wait (After six weeks of my thesis submission) for my viva which is 2 months away. I feel lost as I don’t know of any others having their vivas around these times. More importantly, the more I go on preparing for my viva the more and
more mistakes I find. I have made a list of corrections to take to the viva but still find myself being afraid of the outcome.

The errors mainly arise from inappropriate use of tests to analyse my data in a chapter and typographical errors. I just worry that my silly errors/mistakes may cause me to fail. I’m one who over thinks and suffers from the imposter syndrome (As I am sure many do) I am so passionate about my work, my supervisor thinks my work is good but I hardly believe it. I see that I am really my biggest critic. I wish these mistakes don’t take away the chance I have to speak about my work. People say don’t be nervous but the truth is sometimes the nerves will be there still no matter what you do, but you can learn not to run away from it but try to understand why it’s there.

I recently joined this forum and I hope someone can be kind enough to spare a few minutes to give any advice. I worry based on the areas I mentioned above. Including not knowing answers to questions. After 4 years and a few months I feel like a zombie but most of all terrified.

Is there anyone else waiting on a viva? I wish to start thread here until my viva, only if anyone wishes to help a fellow student with some tips. I know it will be of great help not just to me, but to others who may come across this post.

Thank you so much in advance and also for reading this - Ladybird
03-Jun-20, 21:01
edited about 27 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 1 month ago
I am sorry this got buried and for the late reply. I haven't submitted my thesis yet so I am not talking from experience.

They won't fail you for typos and minor errors. Actually finding them before your viva is good, as it save your examiners time and they will appreciate it. Stuff like that is what minor corrections is for!

For the bigger issues about using the wrong tests, you need to determine the context. I know I did some experiments wrong (didn't consider a certain contaminant) and I know I will have to defend it in my viva. It is an annoying mistake but I worked out that it will only affect some of the results by 1-4% at absolute most. That error does not affect my conclusions and so I am not worried. Understanding the implications of the possible small mistakes gives you a better idea of how you should worry. Even if it is significant error you can still argue the overall thesis is still worthy of a PhD.

Hopefully some viva veterans can give you some better advice!
04-Jun-20, 17:24
by abababa
Avatar for abababa
posted about 1 month ago
Let the inner critic come out at viva. The worst thing you could do would be overcompensate for your own self-criticality and try to 'overdefend' - invariably people that do this is come across as scientifically naive.

PhD students often over-worry about the 'contribution to science' part, at the expense of the 'showing you're a good scientist' bit. They big up findings, or over-defend flawed aspects of their work. The ability you have to identify flaws in your own work is a strength.

I don't mean go in there and be immediately 'In case you didn't notice, Chapter 2 is rubbish...'. But your answers to questions don't need to be on the basis 'my thesis is perfect, and therefore I shall rebut'; rather on the 'this is a rational limitation, and I agree with it' side of things.

If you are self-critical you are not an impostor. The best researchers will more aptly and readily shred their own work than that of others. Viva fails (exceptionally rare though they are), are often not due to the work being flawed, but the person defending it showing utter naivety when it comes to the flaws.
04-Jun-20, 23:26
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Ladybird
posted about 1 month ago
Hello rewt, thank you for even responding in the first place. I appreciate it a lot. I noticed also that some of the recent posts on this forum get mixed up. So I usually tend to search by ‘date of post’ depending.

Again, thank you for your words. It is true what you have said. I have re analysed all of the data for the chapter and luckily it doesn’t change the significance of the experiment except for the change in the figures which I will speak about in the viva. I think it will also be useful to print out a copy and take along with me.

If you are in your writing up stage, or about to be in, good luck and well done you. We are not perfect and sometimes mistakes will happen even though they can be a pain when they do. I will be keeping updates here
04-Jun-20, 23:36
edited about 13 minutes later
Avatar for Ladybird
posted about 1 month ago
Hello abababa

Thank you so much. Totally right. I wish the ‘findings’ part was not so much of a big thing. I guess sometimes at the viva they often ask about your contributions etc. All I wanted to do was research and so that was not my only concern. The part about chapter two being rubbish made me laugh. Love it. I do get what you mean.

Good research is what is important and sometimes because we want the best we criticise ourselves, well at least I do. I have noted these points you made, I appreciate it and I will try to give updates too.
05-Jun-20, 11:20
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
Good luck Ladybird! My only advice would be to get the thesis back out say 2 weeks before the viva date and re read it with fresh (and refreshed) eyes - basically to refresh yourself and make sure you know what you did and why you did it. I used a highlighter and also scribbled additional thoughts in the margins. I also printed out a list of all my typos and errors (40 odd in the end I think). What else? You could also run a quick literature search to make sure you're up to date with any new research on the topic. If it helps, you could also prepare answers to the standard viva questions. I found it helpful/confidence boosting to be prepared to give a blurb on what my thesis was about (I wrote it down too so I could prompt myself if needed) - but ironically they didn't even ask for one!

Personally, I would use the time from now till then (a week or so before the viva) to just relax and do other things. This is what I found worked well for me. It ended up being just 1 week as I was unwell for the best part of the first week, but it was still plenty of time (and not so much time that I could overthink things or become more anxious).

Hope this helps!
05-Jun-20, 11:56
edited about 4 minutes later
Avatar for Ladybird
posted about 1 month ago
I appreciate this Tudor_Queen, thank you, I am going to adopt this method. To be honest, I submitted in March and I haven’t properly switched off since then.

I have spent time just looking at the thesis (worrying about wrong typos, page no, stats/appendices etc) and wanting it around me. This never really helps the situation.

I’d ask myself why am I so anxious when it’s only 2 months away (A long time to be anxious) but still stay anxious any. It’s so exhausting. Loosing sleep and not eating but worrying that I will fail and it will be the end. Don’t mean to be dramatic but I am being translucent. I think I can be completely honest here.

I have a list of things which I am editing. I am also checking for new literature and have worked out some possible questions and wow they didn’t ask even one possible question?, I guess examiners have their own style of things maybe. I am glad yours went well and especially being ill the week before, must’ve not been easy but well done Queen.
07-Jun-20, 01:22
edited a moment later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 1 month ago
You're welcome and I'm glad it's useful. They might have asked me some of the questions I prepared for. I don't quite remember. They defo didn't ask me to give a summary of what my PhD was about. I'm still glad I prepared a little blurb for that though, as it made me feel confident and ready for if they DID ask.

Argh that does sound challenging. I hope you manage to switch off from it a bit now. Just tell yourself that you want to look at it with fresh eyes before the viva, and so in a way not looking at it or thinking about it now, and doing some other activities and fun things, is actually a part of your preparation process.

I'm sure you'll do well :) Not sure if it's helpful but there's a paper you can Google that is realistic and might help calm anxiety for those going into viva. It's title is: it's a PhD, not a nobel prize.

All the best and keep us posted!


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