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I am currently writing my master's thesis. The project is a cooperation of the lab of my university supervisor, where I am writing the thesis, and a research institute, where I am employed part-time as a research assistant.

My thesis work involves analyzing measurements that were taken from someone else who is affiliated with the research institute. The measurements are not part of a public dataset and, as far as I know, will not be published. The data is not being reused from previous work, but was measured for this project.

I want to explicitly state in my thesis that taking these measurements are not part of my thesis, but I am unsure how to do this properly. Throughout the majority of my work, the data is used, so I would like to avoid mentioning its origin each time. It would of course make sense for me to acknowledge the contribution of the person who conducted the measurements, but I do not think this is sufficient.

The reason I am asking about this is that in order to submit my thesis, I am required to sign a form stating 'I am the sole author of this document and did everything myself, unless stated otherwise', which I believe is quite common. For other documents, a citation would be appropriate. However, I believe this case is different because there is no formal document accompanying the dataset.

  • How can I sufficiently state that the data used throughout my thesis was not measured by me, and at which point in the thesis should I do so?
  • Is it sufficient to mention the origin of data once, such as in the introduction?
  • Should I write a section (perhaps in the appendix) where the measurements are described in detail, including who conducted them?

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In my opinion, stating in the introduction "the data were taken in the such and such experiment prepared and run by A.Becede" would be enough. It's not unusual to analyse data from someone else's experiments, especially at MSc level.

Just as a tip, in my field when we cite something unpublished, we cite it as:

"A.Becede - private communication"

or

"courtesy of A.Becede".

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Just write about the data source in your introduction, list the data source in your bibliography as "unpublished" and sign the statement. If you want to publish your results in a (peer reviewed) journal you may encounter difficulties with private data, but that should be no problem for a Master's thesis.

If a detailed description of how the measurements were made is important information for understanding your work then do write a section containing that information.

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    You might need permission to give a "detailed" description, however. Some things are proprietary and considered trade secrets by their creators. Especially since data can't be copyrighted - in US, at least. – Buffy Mar 9 at 16:06

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