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Using a class term paper for my thesis


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Hey !

 

I have conducted a bunch of analyses on my thesis's data for a term paper in one of my classes. Can I reuse what I wrote for the term paper in my thesis ? I know that you have to cite your own published work, but in this case, it is not published as it was for a class only.

 

Thanks in advance !

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35 minutes ago, Charlie Moon said:

Hey !

 

I have conducted a bunch of analyses on my thesis's data for a term paper in one of my classes. Can I reuse what I wrote for the term paper in my thesis ? I know that you have to cite your own published work, but in this case, it is not published as it was for a class only.

 

Thanks in advance !

In some quarters, what you want to do may be considered misconduct. I urge you to read carefully the rules of the road for your institution, your college (i.e. the graduate school), and your department/program. If you find nothing that prohibits your tactic, have a couple of conversations with the UGA and the DGS, the chair of your thesis committee, and to any professor with whom you're close. That's four conversations.

When you have these conversations, make it clear that your thesis will represent a significant, if only incremental, expansion/revision of your previous work. At the least sign of resistance from your DGS or your chair, you can decide to press your argument or back down sullenly (my default tactic with my bosses these days) or figure out why they're reluctant to say yes. This last option is where you'll have an opportunity to learn.

If you get a reluctant "well, go ahead," consider the possibility that you're being told "NO." (Professors, like bosses in the private sector--not bitter--will let you cut your own throat and watch you bleed out while they sip their morning coffee. Okay, maybe a little bitter.)

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13 hours ago, cokitty said:

This would likely be considered to be academic dishonesty if you were caught.

Careful there. My advisors actually encouraged me to write on topics related to my research (qualifying papers, dissertation) for my class papers. The idea being that instead of spending some time researching and writing on something that I'll never touch again, I could use the time to work on stuff related to my research that would benefit me in the longer term. I've seen both undergraduate and graduate students develop class papers into a thesis all the time -- I've also advised and co-advised them myself -- and I wouldn't think about it twice. It's one of the most natural way to develop research topics at an early stage of one's career. 

OP, I think you need to have this conversation with your advisor. It'd be very silly if you couldn't use these data and analyses from your class paper in your thesis, as they're directly related to the work. I would be surprised if they didn't let you use them. I don't know of any way to cite such work, as it's not published, but since we're talking about an internal document anyway, I think it's sufficient that your advisor/committee know where they came from. They may then decide that you need to do X amount of additional work, since this part wasn't originally developed for the thesis. But either way, this is something to be worked out directly with your advisor and committee, in consultation with any official rules and requirements on the thesis. 

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25 minutes ago, fuzzylogician said:

Careful there. My advisors actually encouraged me to write on topics related to my research (qualifying papers, dissertation) for my class papers. The idea being that instead of spending some time researching and writing on something that I'll never touch again, I could use the time to work on stuff related to my research that would benefit me in the longer term. I've seen both undergraduate and graduate students develop class papers into a thesis all the time -- I've also advised and co-advised them myself -- and I wouldn't think about it twice. It's one of the most natural way to develop research topics at an early stage of one's career.  

I agree. This is generally what students in my PhD program were encouraged to do as well especially for trying out topics for our comprehensive exams and for the dissertation.

I mean, you can't generally take your class paper, do no extra work on it, and then turn it into your thesis because that would be odd and probably wouldn't pass because it is not comprehensive enough - but it's a great jumping point as @fuzzylogician describes.

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Chiming in to third what @fuzzylogicianand @ZeChocMoose have said. Throughout my graduate degrees, I was encouraged to choose topics for course papers which would help me as a worked on my thesis/dissertation/comprehensive exams. Sometimes that meant writing a lit review, other times a grant proposal, and still other times what largely became a chapter of my MA thesis. The latter was written while in a class with one of my committee members who encouraged me to use my final course paper as a draft thesis chapter.

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14 hours ago, fuzzylogician said:

Careful there. My advisors actually encouraged me to write on topics related to my research (qualifying papers, dissertation) for my class papers. The idea being that instead of spending some time researching and writing on something that I'll never touch again, I could use the time to work on stuff related to my research that would benefit me in the longer term. I've seen both undergraduate and graduate students develop class papers into a thesis all the time -- I've also advised and co-advised them myself -- and I wouldn't think about it twice. It's one of the most natural way to develop research topics at an early stage of one's career. 

OP, I think you need to have this conversation with your advisor. It'd be very silly if you couldn't use these data and analyses from your class paper in your thesis, as they're directly related to the work. I would be surprised if they didn't let you use them. I don't know of any way to cite such work, as it's not published, but since we're talking about an internal document anyway, I think it's sufficient that your advisor/committee know where they came from. They may then decide that you need to do X amount of additional work, since this part wasn't originally developed for the thesis. But either way, this is something to be worked out directly with your advisor and committee, in consultation with any official rules and requirements on the thesis. 

I guess I interpreted OP's remarks to mean that they'd be reusing their paper wholesale.

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On 4/27/2018 at 12:35 AM, cokitty said:

This would likely be considered to be academic dishonesty if you were caught.

Not necessarily. One of my course papers this term was actually writing a chapter of my thesis. But I am definetly going to change a few things in my actual thesis (add more details for instance, etc.) 

Edited by Adelaide9216
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  • 3 months later...

Realize this is late to the game, but I think it would somewhat depend on whether the coursework was part of the degree you are currently working on or if it was part of another degree which you have already been rewarded, particularly if it were at the same institution. As far as I understand it, if it's the first scenario, that would be fine, but if it's the second, that would be less allowable.  But again, I would talk to your advisor or department head. 

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