You can ask your supervisors for guidance. You can talk to colleagues about your ideas. You can even ask your non-PhD friends for help. You can’t ask your examiners anything before the viva, but you can do some work to get insight and feel confident about answering their questions.
Follow this seven step process for each of your examiners to get a sense of where they might be coming from:
- What papers have they recently published?
- Are there any themes, topics or ideas that they are consistently exploring?
- How does their research connect with your thesis?
- What are their declared research interests (on their staff page)?
- How do their research interests overlap with yours?
- What do you know about their reputation?
- How could their opinions help you?
Work your way through these questions for each of your examiners, either researching to find out information (like their papers or interests) or reflecting to see what it means for you. The last question is important particularly if you’re working towards an academic career. Your examiners will be part of a small group of people who have read all of your work. Their opinion could give you a helpful steer or fantastic idea.
You can’t ask them for help before the viva, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some help from them anyway.