Including published data in your thesis

posted
15-Jun-20, 21:16
edited about 1 minute later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 weeks ago
I have nearly published 2 journal papers and plan to include the data/discussions in my thesis. I am doing a standard thesis with a slightly modified chapter structure but not a PhD by publication.

My question is, how similar can your thesis be to be your prior papers? My supervisor says I need to rephrase everything and modify figures for plagiarism but I have realised that will require me to change 18,000+ words and over 30 figures! That seems excessive to me and I was wondering does have any advice on how to lightly differentiate your PhD from prior works.

PS: My supervisor thinks rewriting is easy and is not being that helpful
posted
16-Jun-20, 09:24
edited about 18 minutes later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
How about simply including the two papers in your thesis as two separate chapters? This way all you need to do is explain the structure of your thesis - much easier than presenting it all differently.

If you decide not to just insert the papers, then I think you have to take the rewording advice very seriously. I know of a PhD student who put parts of his already published papers into the thesis and it turned into a plagiarism case. It was a slightly different scenario to yours - as he had actually used text in his papers from the methods section of a paper of his supervisor - as instructed BY his supervisor! But as I say it turned into a real academic plagiarism case requiring a panel etc.
posted
16-Jun-20, 09:41
by Nead
Avatar for Nead
posted about 3 weeks ago
Hi Rewt,
My thesis was written the standard way with modification on chapters. I had the standard review chapter, following which the next three chapters were published (no changes just slotted straight in- not allowed to do thesis by publication) followed by two normal chapters and a discussion. Like Tudor had said, before by chapters began (After the abstract), I had a section title "Structure of Thesis", which I basically outline which chapter was published or not and the main objectives of each part.
Also, on the Chapter page for each new chapter, I had the title and where the paper was published with the DOI and full author list and credits.
My examiners had no issue with it at all.
posted
16-Jun-20, 15:39
edited about 17 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 weeks ago
Yep, welcome to the ludicrous world of academia.
I had to rephrase the text from 5 of my published papers when I wrote my thesis.
I just essentially summarised in my own words paragraph by paragraph, one chapter per paper.

As for pictures, I asked for permission from the publishers and wrote "reproduced by kind permission...." and gave a reference to each.

Absolute waste of a month or so of my time but couldn't be avoided.

You can and should run your thesis through TURNITIN after doing so to make sure you've used enough of your own words.
posted
16-Jun-20, 16:13
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
Just stick the papers in! Why do all this extra work for the sake of a format?
posted
16-Jun-20, 17:33
edited about 1 second later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 weeks ago
Thanks for the replies and advice.

I am planning of sticking the papers in as chapters and am not worried about the thesis structure but I have been warned of self-plagiarism issues with copying text.

What pm133 described is what I am fearing, where I have to waste weeks rephrasing basic text. My supervisor sounds pretty adamant that it has to pass turnitin and was wondering if there was an easy way around it. Nead, did you modify the text of your chapters or have any issues with self-plagarism?
posted
16-Jun-20, 18:20
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
Ah, no, if you insert the papers it can be (and indeed should be) word for word - you can literally copy and paste the whole paper, including its abstract and references, as a chapter in your thesis. There is no plagiarism issue as this is an accepted way of doing the thesis. You simply need to put a note at the start of the thesis stating what you have done. If the papers are published already you would state this and include the full citation. There is no need for any rewording or rephrasing. Hope this helps!
posted
17-Jun-20, 00:17
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 weeks ago
TQ, the problem is that every university seems to treat this differently.
That's a risk you really don't want at this stage of the process.

There's not much anyone can force me to do when my mind is set but on this issue I was prepared to trust my supervisor's judgment.

I've seen at least one RG uni which has a published guidance about avoiding self plagiarism in this exact scenario.

I guess it's up to rewt whether it's worth pushing this or not.
Personally, the last thing I wanted after 3 years was to do anything which risked clogging my thesis up in academic red tape just as I was crossing the finishing line.
As annoying as it was to do this, the alternative seemed as sensible as running across a minefield wearing a full clown outfit :-D
posted
17-Jun-20, 07:28
edited about 2 seconds later
by Nead
Avatar for Nead
posted about 3 weeks ago
I didn't have to modify any text of the published papers. Literally copy and pasted them in, and formatted the font etc to match the thesis style. Like Tudor said I did have a section at the start stating what chapter were published and on each chapter made it clear where it was published and what journal.
To be honest, I think my supervisor would of having a heart attack if they all had to be changed and she had to recheck it !
Like what pm133 says check with your uni and what other students have done and base your judgement on that. If other people haven't changed them you should have a good case.
posted
17-Jun-20, 09:09
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
OK, if your uni guidance does not have an option where you can choose to submit a thesis with papers in, then totally rewriting is your only option. And I would still state something like "since these have been published elsewhere (citations), they will bear close resemblance to the original work" . To cover my back.
posted
19-Jun-20, 16:36
edited about 29 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 weeks ago
Thanks for the advice everyone. It is really helpful to get some different opinions but it looks like very university is different.

I have just got written confirmation that I can include text published papers. Which is a massive relief! I found out that at my university all dissertations and thesis's are referred to an academic standards committee if there is a significant similarities. That is why the graduate school and admin staff couldn't give me any advice. Fortunately, the head of academic standards committee for my department confirmed in email (with a few good cc's) that I can include published papers. I just had to spend several days chasing people to get what should have been a simple answer.
posted
19-Jun-20, 17:34
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
Yay! This is going to make your life so much easier!

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