My PhD thesis has been available online on the university website for 3 years, and also listed in my Google Scholar profile. Although I have plans to publish multiple papers from my thesis, I have not done so yet!

The question is: can someone else publish a peer-reviewed article claiming novelty in something introduced in my PhD thesis since it is not "published" ?

  • Practically you can go. Rewrite everything. In many hard-core disciplines, nowadays basically all thesis and papers overlap or are various arrangements of the same pieces of work. Often thesis claim originally too. It would be easy to pass the thesis after the papers, this is through. But the scope of journals is dissemination, and your thesis in a Web page doesn't contribute much. – Alchimista Aug 20 '20 at 8:58

Of course, they can claim novelty -- and of course, this would be not true. It would also not be true if you published e.g., in a blog. (And of course, if they are aware of the thesis, they are not behaving ethically.) However, if your PhD thesis is not very visible (most thesis are not), it could be that they are not aware of the thesis and the referee is also not. Most likely, you cannot do much then afterwards to change the claim in the paper -- if you are very lucky, the writer posts some kind of erratum on their homepage.

Many peer-reviewed papers were forgotten and ideas rediscovered afterwards. Of course, this could also happen with a PhD thesis.

Wouldn't it be a strange world if it was okay to take theorems out of a PhD thesis and claim them to be one own's theorems?

  • 3
    And, of course, it is plagiarism if not cited properly. – Buffy Aug 19 '20 at 19:35
  • @Buffy: Indeed. – user111388 Aug 19 '20 at 19:36
  • A thesis being online makes it as discoverable as, but less attractive than, a random cat video. The real question might be why 3 years have passed without getting articles submitted. – Jon Custer Aug 20 '20 at 22:12
  • @JonCuster: Not a theses are fully avaiable online in English. This makes results often less discoverable. – user111388 Aug 21 '20 at 10:35

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