First, a candidate can think that vivas are random. It’s true that you won’t know what will happen exactly until you get to yours, but there are general expectations that can help you understand the process.
Second, a candidate can think of examiners as opponents. This just isn’t the case: examiners are prepared, they ask questions and some of those questions could be tough, but that doesn’t make them your enemy.
Third, a candidate could believe that they are finished at submission. The PhD journey is a good foundation for the viva, but the viva is a particular challenge; there’s lots of prep work that can make a difference.
Fourth, a candidate could believe that corrections are a failure. It just isn’t so. Corrections are more work and might not feel fair – but they’re a part of the process for most candidates and not connected with failing at all.
Fifth, a candidate could believe that they aren’t good enough to succeed. But how else could someone get to submission other than by achieving enough along the way? How else could they write a thesis if they weren’t good enough to do the work?
Five big mistakes. Five simple remedies.
Find out about expectations. Understand the role of examiners. Invest time in preparation. Accept corrections as part of the process. Reflect on your journey to build your confidence.