I face the following problem:

  • I have done my Bachelor thesis at an organisation (in 2019), where I had a contact point (CP) who supplied me the data, did some brainstorming with me and read the final thesis before submitting. The organisation asked to be anonymous and their name is not displayed in the thesis.
  • In 2020, I found a conference workshop where my thesis was a potential match and asked my CP if the org would allow for the thesis to be reduced to meet word limits and be sent to this workshop. This was 3 weeks before the submission deadline and I offered him to be a co-author on the paper. He replied, that unfortunately even the data is anonymous and while it would be interesting, the org takes their anonymity seriously hence it can't be submitted.
  • I found out that he (with 5 other authors, his name comes 3rd) submitted a paper to the same exact workshop, with a hugely overlapping topic to my thesis. The base data used in his paper is the same, although it has some additional features for modeling. The outcome variable is the same, the methods used are similar and even smaller details can be matched between the two works. My work is not cited, nor was I asked to be an author on his published workshop paper, however he was aware of my work. His e-mail address is on the paper, clearly revealing the organisation.

What should be my next steps now? I thought about e-mailing him first and asking him to explain this, but what else should I ask for? Should I ask him to add my thesis retroactively to the paper? Should I contact the workshop organisers? If yes, what should I tell them?

  • By "the data is anonymous", do you mean it is subject to a non-disclosure agreement or something like that? Aug 7, 2021 at 20:24
  • @O.R.Mapper Yes, I had to sign an NDA. It stated, that I can only use the data after getting a written consent form the org. Aug 7, 2021 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


I am sorry about your negative thesis experience but I am afraid you cannot do much.

If I understand the situation correctly, the organisation that owns the data, gave you part of it so you could write your thesis. You have no permission to use the data for anything else. You did the work and got a nice thesis out of it.

Meanwhile, the organisation (as owners of the data) decided to publish the analysis on the whole dataset (with additional features), which is their right.

I assume that their analysis was done in parallel with yours, maybe with some inspiration from your thesis (since they submitted quasi immediately after your thesis was ready), hence the similarities in methods (though, if the model is standard, they may not even have used your thesis as inspiration). Having said this, they could have been generous and either cited or included you as co-author.

You could ask your contact person about it but it is unlikely they will respond positively (or even respond at all). I would not contact the workshop organisers given that you signed the NDA form. You could inform your university that this organisation treated your unfairly so no students are sent there in the future.

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