I recently completed a Master's course in the UK, during which I submitted a dissertation in June 2023 on machine learning. Unfortunately, I was dealing with some personal issues at the time, which limited my ability to double-check my results thoroughly. Despite these challenges, I graduated during the summer, receiving a first-class degree and a high mark for my dissertation.

Now, as I've started a PhD in machine learning at a different UK university, my intention to publish my master's thesis led me to revisit the work I had done. To my dismay, I discovered major errors in my code that significantly impacted my results, rendering the work essentially incorrect.

As an example, I unintentionally used the same dataset for testing the quality of the machine learning algorithm as the one used for training (an error in my code led to this oversight). Additionally, there were numerous mistakes in my code, causing the model presented in my work to differ from the one implemented in the code.

I am genuinely concerned about how these errors might affect the credibility of my Master's degree. Specifically, my supervisor for the master's thesis often presents previous students' work to others. I worry that if someone attempts to replicate my results, they will uncover inaccuracies. Should I reach out to my supervisor and inform them of the errors in my results? Additionally, if my work is indeed found to be incorrect, what are the chances of my degree being revoked?


2 Answers 2


I would assume that your degree is safe assuming no-one alleges actual misconduct or fraud. Mistakes happen. In your case they were missed by others as well as yourself. I'd relax on that. I'm not the judge, of course.

However, before you publish your thesis, redo the work so that it gives more reliable results and say in the resulting paper that it is based on (and corrects) your masters work.

It would be a mistake, I think, to try to publish something that you don't trust yourself, but you have a chance to correct the work. Even if your subsequent research shows that the MS thesis has incorrect results it is better that you publish that fact than if someone else does.

If you contact your supervisor, say you are revisiting the work for accuracy and completeness and wait until you know something more before going into unnecessary detail.


You say your intention to publish your master's thesis led to you discovering these mistakes. What do you mean by publishing? My understanding is that theses in the UK are automatically published by the university, and the version thus published will be that approved by examiners; you will not be able to amend it.

If your thesis was not published by the university---for example because it was more of a final year project report rather than an actual thesis---just let your previous supervisor know that the results may be incorrect and move on. PhDs in the UK are too short to spend time fixing up one's master's work.

If your thesis has been published by the university, there isn't really anything you can do. But you are not unique in your predicament: at least in machine learning, the vast majority of master's theses are of dubious quality and rigour. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

As Buffy said, there will be no impact on your degree. Theses being wrong is routine, and honest errors are not punished.

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