yr 8 of thesis - someone's bought out a book with v similar ideas! what do I do?!


Oh dear. It isn't plagiarism, they've just arrived at very similar conclusions. It's a nice subjective subject like history, too! (I've had the platitudes from my b/f that great minds think alike - won't help my 'ground-breaking' career, though)

My supervisor (who has no memory of anything I've written) has work from way back in which I've put forward these ideas (if it's not been lost). And, I gave a paper about 5 or 6 years ago (attended by about 20 people - very popular, obviously!). And I show evidence to support these ideas in my thesis, but ...

I'm worried that when I give future papers and submit articles (in their necessarily condensed form) everyone's going to think I've copied from a very eminent scholar.

Any suggestions how I deal with this?


if you dont copy anything, you have nothing to worry. the truth is the truth. it could be always overshadowed by misunderstandings


when you copy from one book, they call it plagiarism. when you copy from many book, they call it research


And when you need more than 8 years to complete a PhD they call it "waste of life time" and "lack of focus". And I wholeheartedly agree.

I think your biggest problem aren't future publications but the inability to complete the PhD. Perhaps that should be the priority, not what other people publish.


8 years ago I was still in High School. 8 years ago, it was a different millenium!


harsh, o.stoll! very constructive comments, thanks - have you thought about becoming a supervisor?!

Unfortunately I've had to work - just started year 8 part-time and just taken out an enormous loan so that I /can/ finish, without having another nervous breakdown in the process.

...80 hour weeks, to produce a multi-disciplinary thesis whilst running a business, with disabilities, as a single-parent - in my defense! whoa is me...

onwards and upwards...


I agree, my statement was harsh. Blame on me.

But seriously, you should try to finish it asap, because it will not only affect your mind, body and soul but also the people around you. What exactly is the problem, i.e. why are you still working on it after so many years? I assume you have all the data collected? If yes, then you could basically write down the thing in a couple of months, even if you are working at the same time.

I'm sure you agree that 8 years is an extremly long period of time, even for part time students.


Having said that, I wish you all the best of luck and the mental and physical strenght that is necessary to complete your studies. I had a few deep lows myself and I know how it feels to get up every day, working extremely hard, and not getting any closer to the goal. It's tough.


It is perfectly normal to take around 8 years to do a part-time social sciences PhD, even more so given the time-constraints you point to. You should feel very proud imo. I'd ignore comments from people who don't understand yoour situation.

In relation to the point you were trying to make, there are a number of positives to take: this other work, now published, legitimates to a large extent your whole research process and demonstrates by proxy your ability to hit a high (and the required) level of scholarly work. If possible, I'd look for any similarities/differences between your thesis and the published work, as this in essence gives you first crack at providing critical comment on a leading body of work in your field of research and expertise.

Best of luck and you should be very positive about this development; also, I doubt the two analyses are EXACTLY the same?


I doubt the two analyses are EXACTLY the same?

No, I took a different theoretical approach, just ended up with parallel conclusions. So maybe I can use this other work to further demonstrate the likelihood of being 'right'?! But, I'm sure most PhD students dream of being ground-breaking...

If possible, I'd look for any similarities/differences between your thesis and the published work, as this in essence gives you first crack at providing critical comment on a leading body of work in your field of research and expertise.

Brilliant! I have found a few holes with the other approach that can be filled using social theory, and backed up with my data.

very helpful - thanks.


8 yrs is a long time, I agree. And I'm desperate for it be over!

I'd very nearly finished writing-up my second-rate thesis, but then I had time off sick. When I came back to it afresh, I saw the problems with it; I also realized I could write a more nuanced thesis by applying wider anthropological and sociological theory, so started a complete re-write - hence I'm still finishing off.

The topic was also too big, and area and time-frame to be covered too large. Plus I have a tendency, because of a lack of confidence, to go way beyond what is necessary when it comes to background reading. Nevertheless, things are on track to finish on time (and I'll have 2 theses, from which I can pull about 20 papers).

Thanks for the well wishes


am also in my year 8 part-time but despite some problems along the way -obviously- can't claim that they were good excuses. i think when one wants one can.

I think the real problem is to do with the reasons why people like me started a phd in the first place: it was a personal thing that i hadn't really linked to any rational reason. hence the slow pace due to changes of topic, extended fieldwork etc.


although i think that i would have done things differently if i were to start again, it has not been a waste of time. i have learned a lot though this. about myself, about many things and i am sure that this self introspection would be of good value to my future career. not many people can truly answer the question of what are your strengths and weakenesses. my weakenesses have been blantly exposed through the phd process. and that's made me stronger. ready to tackle the real world.

enough on mylife.com. back to work now. expected finish date: december, 20. and another era will begin.


This happens a lot (even to Darwin). The best thing to do is to point out that someone had come up with it first and you're verifying it (plus add extra evidence if possible to show new discoveries).


The fact that something has been published recently does not mean that the author had the idea before you. You have presented a paper, you have developed your argument over a lengthy period of time, and you should acknowledge this in your thesis. Then, someone has published a similar theory and that publication is a further piece of evidence that you were right. Moreover, as you said, it is similar but not the same, so I would work on that.