Can I cite unpublished work?


Hi all, I have found a very relevant study I could include in my lit review, however it was an unpublished masters dissertation. I only knew it existed because the author sent it to me (there's no record of it online or anywhere).

Can I still use this in my lit review? If I do use it how much attention can I give it? How credible is it, seeing as it hasn't gone through peer review?

I don't mind leaving it out, but it would be quite useful as there is little to no published work in my area.(robin)

So leave in or out???

What are anyone else's experiences?:-)



I would cite unpublished, shows breadth of research, but i wouldn't hang too much it - certainly not in my area which is awash with publications.

However, if your research area is new and shiny what else can you do but cite new work? tricky.  great opportunity though. 

You'll be referring back to whoever he /she has cited too though? so that will give you a more substantial basis.

don't know if I've helped actually :$


Yeah I have cited unpublished work especially if the authors are already published academics. If not it's still ok but just don't use it as your main article to support your work. It shows that you have been thorough in your research.


Of course you can cite it. It's part of a completed postgraduate degree, so has been verified to an extent. And it's relevant research that has been completed and should be mentioned.

I cited lots of Masters dissertations and PhD theses in both my Masters dissertation and PhD thesis. Showed I'd been thorough, especially because there was a lack of published material.


I agree with the others; cite it, but don't place too much significance on it. I've done it, and so have far more experienced academics in my department. (up)


Thanks for all your replies, I agree- and will include the study in my review, but may be slightly cautious about drawing too many conclusions from it



I know I'm a bit late but, yes I'd use it.

I'd make sure though that you have it at hand to send/show to people, and that the original author is fine with that (I don't see why they wouldn't be). The problems with using unpublished work come down to two things I think, lack of peer review and lack of availability. Peer review shouldn't be too much of an issue because it's part of a masters dissertation. It's been assessed at some point. The real problem is with accessibility. You have the article, but no one else does. They're not going to be able to check what you've said or just read it if they're interested in it too. So I'd have it on hand for the inevitable requests!