I wonder if I can cite an unpublished thesis (Ph.D or Master) in a research paper. If so, how do I do it? Should I also include a link to the thesis?


2 Answers 2


Assuming it isn't formally published, then the citation would probably include the university instead of the publisher. Otherwise the same.

Links are always a problem since they are subject to disappearance. It is good to also include the date that you last referenced it there with any link(s).

And yes, you need to cite it to avoid various plagiarism issues.


How to cite

browsing the list of bibtex entry types, we find:


A thesis written for the Master’s level degree.

  author  = "Jian Tang",
  title   = "Spin structure of the nucleon in the asymptotic limit",
  school  = "Massachusetts Institute of Technology",
  year    = 1996,
  address = "Cambridge, MA",
  month   = sep

Whether to cite

When deciding if to cite something, the most essential question is: Are you borrowing an idea from that work? If yes, then you should usually cite it as to avoid plagiarism. You do not need citations for things that are common knowledge (though what counts as common knowledge may depend on your field and the audience you are publishing for). Specificly concerning an unpublished thesis, I quote from this answer:

Just because it's not published doesn't preclude being able to cite it. You can't not cite the thesis if you're taking information from it!

The degree-granting institution should perpetually retain copies in its library, and most universities these days store PDF copies as well. A copy may be harder to track down, but a determined reader should have no enormous difficulty in getting a copy of the thesis.

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