16

So I've been doing my bachelor's thesis. Alongside my bachelor's thesis, I've been taking a course that trains students in working in teams for projects. Let's call this 'course X'. Coincidentally, the project that I'm working on in course X happens to be very similar to my thesis topic. So, in the Future Work section of my thesis, I wrote about the project that we're working on in course X. Except I didn't mention that I'm working on the project. Rather, I mentioned that this project is an example of something that can be worked on (since it has similarities with the concepts implemented in the thesis).

Now, I recently passed my thesis. However, my examiner is oblivious to the fact that the project that I mentioned in the Future Work section is something that I'm actually working on in a different course. And this is stressing me out. Soon, we will be writing a sort of report on our project. I'm worried that my examiner will find out about this project someday and accuse me of lying in the Future Work section, since a project that I'm working on doesn't really count as 'Future Work'.....but does it? Should I be worried about this? Because I'm really worried about this. Should I tell my examiner or supervisor that the project that I mentioned in the Future Work section is something that I'm actually working on in course X?

And for the record, that's not the only thing I mentioned in the Future Work section. I mentioned other potential areas of research in that section, but these aren't bothering me as much. Am I overthinking this?

  • 19
    Agreeing with everyone here who says "yes". Relax. – Buffy May 8 at 13:00
  • 16
    Mandatory phd comics : phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1997 – Soltius May 8 at 13:39
  • 3
    I 'messed up' my future work section in my PhD thesis and my examiners just asked me to correct it. You are over thinking this massively :) – TEK May 8 at 19:09
  • "I might have messed up" is a statement not a question. But we can't now rephrase this as the question "Did I mess up when I...?" because you end with "Am I overthinking this?" and people are commenting "yes". (Also the body of your questions contains four different questions...) – smci May 9 at 13:20
  • 2
    I never understood that PhD comic because I always just assumed that everyone started out at the "Blah Blah Blah Done!" stage. Don't worry about it. – Mike May 9 at 17:03
70

Am I overthinking this?

Yes.

my examiner is oblivious to the fact that the project that I mentioned in the Future Work section is something that I'm actually working on in a different course.

Your examiner probably isn't oblivious: Many researchers discuss other works in their future work section, without mentioning that they are already working on them.

I'm worried that my examiner will...accuse me of lying...since a project that I'm working on doesn't really count as 'Future Work'.....but does it?

A project that you are working on is future work, in the sense that it hasn't appeared publicly yet.

It can be useful to discuss future work without explicitly mentioning that work is already in progress, since such work may never be published, due to unforeseen circumstances, for instance.

we will be writing a sort of report on our project.

You can cite your bachelor's thesis in that report.

30

The usual understanding of future work is "possible extensions of the presented work". So what you are doing is in no way problematic, one could even argue that it is actually a good thing: you actually are investigating the further possibilities.

12

You are really overthinking this. Take a deep breath, and don;t worry about it. Future works refers to which kind of directions new research can take, given what you have presented in the paper. This includes projects that you have already started as well as things no one has done before. If there is a finished project, then it should be mentioned as a part of the literature review, but it doesn't sound like you have a manuscript ready from your other project.

If you are really concerned, you can speak to your supervisor and see if there is an option to add some errata to the thesis. At my institution, small errors and updates are corrected/added to by a sheet of paper (or three) titled Errata which contains the corrected or new information from between the submission and the actual defense.

  • Another thing that bothers me is that by the time I submitted the final version of my thesis, my team has already completed just enough of the project so that it counts as a "minimum viable product" (MVP). From this perspective, would it mean that when I submitted the thesis, the project was already complete in a way? Also I'm not aware if my team has already written a report on the MVP (I was very preoccupied with my thesis). But assuming that the report on the project is complete, would this mean that I'm gonna get in trouble for writing about a project that has already been completed? – Jim Alison May 8 at 12:51
  • 5
    @JimAlison No, you're not going to get in trouble. It's common to be working on some of the 'future works' problems, and sometimes the project is finished before the first project is properly reviewed. It's certainly not academic misconduct. If there is a report now, ask to add a sentence of errata to the thesis stating this. – Johanna May 8 at 12:53
7

You could even argue that this is rather the norm than the exception. Later on, you will finish your work on a paper, submit it to a journal or conference and wait for the reviews and editors decision (which often takes some months or even a year). So when the reviewers read the paper, it is rather likely that you are already working on an extension of your work.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.