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I submitted my thesis some days ago and I am currently preparing for viva. I have found an error in a figure which is a summary of four other figures. In fact, by means of Excel I did calculations and made a mistake regarding some numbers. I have prepared a new file with corrections but I confess that I am scared. Anyone has experienced such a situation or may give any tip about what to do.

Thank you very much indeed

  • 4
    Contact your advisor immediately. Include the corrections. – Potato May 5 '15 at 10:23
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    If the discussion in the viva turns to the error, be honest about it. If it turns to that figure, I would raise it proactively. I'd also have a corrected copy with me if possible. – Chris H May 5 '15 at 13:56
  • In the U.S. (and in engineering) it is common for the thesis committee to ask you to make certain corrections to your thesis before it is published (this usually happens at the end of your defence meeting). An error of the sort you mentioned should not matter at all, unless it has a significant impact on the fundamental contributions of your thesis. – somerandomdude May 5 '15 at 19:54
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Speak to your mentor. However, I see no reason to panic or to be scared, if the mistake doesn't influence some fundamental contribution of the thesis. I've found numerous cases where mistakes in the thesis were found years after the defense, even with considerable impact (one extreme case de facto made ~60% of the thesis obsolete aka wrong).

If the thesis is completely printed/prepared/submitted, I guess that the mentor won't insist on repeating the process.

Again, this is not a great issue, if the error is not of fundamental nature (e.g you base your thesis that the actual value of pi is 4, but somehow you miraculously discover now that you were of by 0.8584).

  • I sent corrections to my mentor and I am waiting for his advice. It influences two numbers (mean values of four other values) the figure infuences also some wording in the text explaiing the figure but not some fundamental contribution of the thesis – mikegi May 5 '15 at 13:56
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Don't keep it a secret, but don't walk in and start apologising for it either.

If the discussion in the viva turns to the error, be honest about it. If it turns to that figure, I would raise it proactively. I'd also have a corrected copy with me if possible. There's no such thing as a perfect thesis (including when the final copy goes to the library) so make use of the opportunity to fix everything you can. I found nonsense (but not as bad as misleading) wording in my readthrough the night before the viva, as well as typos, none changing the outcome but some in equations. I brought a list and mentioned it at the end of the viva, and they were accepted as needing fixing with the corrections.

  • Thank you very much guys. It is encouraging. I will take into account what you wrote all of you. My mentor said bear it in mind if you are asked say you identified the mistake. – mikegi May 5 '15 at 17:29
  • In fact, before finding these issues, I decided to bring a file of corrections with me to the viva. Thank you guys again – mikegi May 5 '15 at 17:31

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