A senior of mine and I worked on a research topic. He contributed to most of the baseline works(say experiments A and B), and I continued with some more baseline work along with many additional experiments(say experiments A1, A2, B1, C[baseline work by me], C1, C2; experiment C has setup similar to A and B).

My senior completed his thesis some time ago, and now I'm writing my thesis. I have a chapter for my experiments, but the additional experiments will only make sense by describing the baseline experiment, i.e., A1 and A2 can't be described without telling about A first. But as most of the baseline experiments A and B are conducted by my senior rather than by me, I think I should leave them out of my experiment chapter.

  1. So I was thinking of adding those baseline experiments to the literature survey. Is this the right approach? If I add this to the literature survey, what should I name the subsection?
  2. Setup-wise, experiment C is similar to A and B. If I'm discussing A and B in the literature survey, how should I describe C in my experiment chapter without repeating myself?

The thesis is a master's thesis. I have consulted with my supervisor; adding baseline experiments to the literature survey was his suggestion.

  • 4
    What's the problem with following your supervisor's suggestion?
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 18:39
  • No problem. But to explain C, I need to talk about A and B. So if I include A and B in the literature review while explaining C in experiments, I'll be repeating some parts of A and B. Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 3:46

2 Answers 2


Where you put them is less important than that you cite them properly. Putting them in the literature survey or a "Previous Work" section seems fine.

If the work is published, then cite it as usual. Otherwise mark the citation with something like "private communication" or "thesis-unpublished" or similar.

Your advisor seems to be giving good advice and will likely need to approve your work in any case. Just make sure that you give proper credit to the other person.

  • I agree with these points. Can you suggest something for question 2? Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 3:48

As another answer indicated, with a master's thesis, you should go by whatever your advisor says. There are many correct solutions, but the most practically correct one for you is the one that your advisor is most comfortable with. (Things are slightly different for a Ph.D. thesis were community standards are more important, but for a master's thesis, your advisor's opinion is almost all that practically matters.)

That said, if it were me, I would recommend not presenting these experiments as separate "past literature" but rather presenting them in a dedicated section describing all prior experiments. You should explicitly cite your senior as the author of experiments that he did alone and you should explicitly cite you and him together on experiments that you did together. One great thing about a thesis is that you are not writing for blind peer review, so it is quite appropriate to fully disclose who did what. This gives your senior colleague the appropriate credit for his contributions and it would probably be a much more natural way for you to present the context that lets you then go on to the new experiments that you have done for your thesis.

That is just my suggestion, but again, go along with whatever your advisor feels best.

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