I am writing my master's thesis and my advisor is taking the total hands-off approach (I am mentioning that because I am still waiting to hear his feedback on the work when he reads it). He wants me to submit the thesis and defend it as soon as possible because there is a deadline for the master's program.

Q1: If I defend my thesis first, can I extract articles from it to be submitted to top math journals?

Q2: I have an idea that is an extension of one of the chapters in my thesis, and planning to work on it for a few months after my defense. Can I use multiple background sections from my master's thesis to be included in the second paper I wish to submit?

How can I ensure that my master's thesis will not be stolen in whole or in part after submitting it to my university/reading (or thesis) committee? - I may seem skeptical but, I live in a country where there are lots of people who may steal each other's work in whole or in part.

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    Did you get any external feedback leading you to believe it should be published in a top math journal? I am asking because most professional mathematicians don't publish even one paper in a top journal in their entire career.
    – the L
    Apr 11 at 6:46
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    How is this question relevant to my question? - I will hear from my advisor soon and I hope that it can be published. Either way, I won't lose anything if I submitted my work to a good journal. My field is computational mathematics. :)
    – Nadine
    Apr 11 at 7:07
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    One question worth exploring is whether your advisor should be co-author of papers emerging from your thesis. Even if the supervision was fairly hands-off, formulating the right problem can be an important contribution. Apr 11 at 9:58
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    There is a pretty big difference between publishing in a top journal (something that, again, most mathematicians never achieve) and publishing in a good journal (something that a good mathematician achieves on a regular basis). From context I assume you simply mean the latter (i.e. submit to a solid, respected journal), but beware that there is a very significant gap between these two goals that can lead to some miscommunication. Apr 11 at 10:52
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    Once you have submitted your master's thesis to the university, this is a form of publication. You can also post it on arXiv. If someone else submits your work to a journal, you have the timestamps to prove that your work was first. Apr 11 at 19:28

1 Answer 1


The answers to your questions are:

  • Q1: Yes, you can definitely seek to publish worked based on your masters thesis after your defense, and there is no reason not to submit your work to top mathematics journals. The matter of whether it will be accepted for publication or not is much the same as it would be, were you to submit prior to your defense. However, see the additional comment below regarding "stealing".
  • Q2: Yes, you can use, and build on, the material in your thesis, and seek publication of that new material.

The question of how you stop people from "stealing" your work, is more difficult. Given your comments, it sounds as though the risk in your country increases in proportion to the number of people who are aware of your work, so you might simply try to limit the dissemination of your thesis until such time as you publish.

This also brings to mind the judgement call you will need to make in deciding where to submit your work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with submitting your work to the very best mathematics journals although it obviously makes most sense to submit your work to a journal that fits well with your subject matter and is of a standard commensurate with that which you believe your own work to be. However, it takes longer to be published in some journals than in others, even after the work is accepted. You will need to balance that issue against your concerns of the work being plagiarized or "stolen" prior to publishing it yourself.

Good luck.

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