Reading other theses


Did you read other theses? I've come across a thesis from Australia which has overlap with my research (but not much) - I want to read it as I think it will be helpful from a subject perspective but also from the perspective of seeing what one is really like (to gague writing style etc) but I am worried that I may end up inadvertantly plagiarising.

Any thoughts?

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my supervisor told me not to for the first 2 years, which I think was a big mistake. I found it very difficult to comprehend what I was actually producing. I ignored the advice in the 2nd year and read through some from people in my department.

I find, now I know the direction of my research I can easily look through related theses objectively. Sometimes they highlight things I could add but I don't think you'd end up plagarising in any way. For me they are mainly useful for looking at structure - where to put what.


Yes i did but not from my subject area - much for the reason you suggest.

I went to the British Library thesis website ->

I've "read" about 10 just to see the structure, how people put them together etc.

Mine is nothing like any of them because its mine :-) ... but i did find it very reassuring to look at the flow.

Regards, Chuff


I've had a look at other theses and I've just started. No-one has said anything about not doing so in fact at the induction day thingy we were told that we should look through other people's work so that we know what we are trying to achieve otherwise we would be working in a vacuum. However I am really aware that this opinion varies hugely among supervisors with some saying that you shouldn't look until the 3rd year and then choose a thesis that is entirely unrelated to your own and some saying look at them if you want/need whenever you want.

Although plagiarism is the biggest fear known to academics because of it's potential to cause academic death, it is very unlikely that you will plagiarise inadvertently or otherwise because you will be very aware of the consequences. This is especially true in light of the fact that you teach and have just found your first case of plagiarism in your student's work! :$


I read quite a lot of other theses, borrowed on inter-library loan. All were related to my work, but not so closely that plagiarism or otherwise would be a factor. And all helped shape the form that my research took, and were referenced in my thesis and included in my bibliography.

However a student at a nearby university did a very closely related PhD to me. He gave me an electronic copy of his thesis to read after he submitted (ahead of me, cos he was full-time and I was part-time). My supervisor advised me not to read it. I didn't. I still have to read it, post PhD!