My PhD research is currently being done by another research group


Hi all,

I hope you can help, reading other posts related to undertaking the PhD have been beyond useful so far, so thank you!!

My dilemma..... I basically finalised the research questions for my PhD and have been working on them over the past few months with great support from my supervisory team. Over the weekend i found out another research group has been investigating my exposure in question in relation to 1 of the 3 outcomes i planned to investigate. The research team have published a significant amount of research in the field and their project is due to finish in 2022 (i am currently in year 1 and due to finish in 2022-2023, UK based PhD).

My supervisors have advised this is okay and we will discuss next week however i am now quite worried as i finally got to the point of not feeling too overcome with stress and worry and began to feel settled having finalised by research questions and timeline. I know my dilemma probably sounds trivial and stupid however any advice you could provide would be appreciated. The idea of starting from scratch is making me worry so much!

Avatar for rewt

Hi amyg,

I know it can be stressful seeing someone publish work very similar to your own but it is very common. Yours doesn't sound that serious as it is only 1 out of 3 results which still leaves 2 completely novel results. If you still do the overlapping research, you are confirming their results or contradicting them which you can link with your other work. Your thesis does not need to be 100% novel and even the smallest change in methodology or results can be considered novel anyway. Your supervisor will know far more than us but stuff like this happens all the time and nothing to worry about.

That said, there is a guy in my department who 6 months from the end got completely gazumped. Another group published a paper that used the same materials, methods, modelling technique and application as him, however in far more depth. It was way too late to change project and he is dreading his viva. If you were like that I would worry but you should be fine if you talk with your supervisor.


Hi there Rewt,

Thank you for getting back to me. I am a worrier, however as I am beginning to realise all PhD students are and it is most likely what got us into these roles in the first place! I have been reading more around the publications which have surfaced from the other research group, their expertise etc which has helped to gain an insight into what route they might go down in terms of methodology. My main concern is that I am using a publicly available data set, which I am worried they will also be using. In their protocol they have stated they will be using both national and international data sets to allow for comparisons. Despite emailing for further information I have not yet heard back from the PI. I think my main concern is that they use the same data set and then decide to expand on the outcomes they choose to investigate based on the availability of the data. Their protocol is based on the analysis of one major outcome however they have stated they may stretch this to investigate other factors. I do hope this makes sense and thanks again for your comments :)


You can contact them and ask if they want to collaborate with you, and if they want, you can publish a paper with them. If they don't or your supervisors don't, then try to publish before they do. If they still happen to publish before you do, then read what they have done and try to do some more work and make your work look more complete than theirs, and then you can still publish your work.


Thank you sciencephd, that does sound like a good idea. I plan on speaking to my supervisor again today about it. I contacted the PI last week and thankfully they don’t seem to be using the data I was planning on using which is great! Thank you for taking the time to reach out :)