I am thinking of carrying out PHD research in a subject in context of my country. But, I found out that the same topic (or same issue) has been researched by somebody else in context of his country i.e. “xyz in abc country”. It’s not a scientific research and most of the research work-findings are based on his specific country which is relatively different than my country. So, though the core research idea is same, overall contexts are totally different. I am planning to research on “xyz in context of my country”.

So, can I do it? Any suggestions?

I am bit concerned as I was thinking of similar qualitative and quantities research methodologies (off course in different country), so overall structure, especially literature review part (references) may look somewhat similar in some places (as it is study of same core thing but in different context). How may potential supervisor perceive it? (Acceptance?) What about overall value of research?

I am confident that research will add value to knowledge in the industry as it has not been done in context of my country (context) before. Findings may be useful also for countries (context) similar to mine. Or I can also expand the focus of study to two countries-not that country the research was done (making it bit wider). But that may complicate the things.

What may be a better idea? What do you suggest?

Edit: I am NOT saying that only locations will be different or not that same thing will be researched again. It will be more like 'challenges for x in xyz country' and 'challenges for x in abc country'.I have been using word 'different context'. Only problem is the study is about 'challenges for x' which may overlap in some places. Challenges, research responses, finding may be totally different.

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    Does the subject xyz have anything to do with the cultural difference, language difference between the two countries? Any significant similarities between them?
    – Nobody
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 4:34
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    To make things more clear,its middle east country vs south Asian country where culture,language,market size,volume all are different. Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 5:35
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    Would you mind telling us what field you are in? I think the field you are studying is very important to your question. For example, any math subject in Middle East is the same as in Asia. However, Math Education in different countries is worth studying.
    – Nobody
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 6:48
  • It's related to technology. There is huge difference in availability, meaning, size and use of technologies in those two regions. Isn't it? Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 9:57

1 Answer 1


The scientific significance of the work really depends on what the nature of the subject is and how much value is added by doing the additional research. For two extremes, consider:

  • A study on the effect of GMO feed on pigs in Freedonia, using the same methodlogy as a just-completed study of the effect of GMO feed on pigs in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick: low value, because there is no reason to think pigs will react to the same food differently in two different places.
  • A study quantifying the size of difference economic sectors in Freedonia (which has not been previously/recently studied), using the same methodology as a just-completed study of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick: high value, because countries typically have different economies, and understanding a country's economy is very valuable for planning policy.

You can evaluate the value of your proposed contribution similarly, by asking how much there is expected to be a difference, and how much knowledge your study will add. Your advisor can then help you further tune the scope for their expectation of an appropriate amount of work for your dissertation.

  • Thank you very much for the advice. As I said earlier it is not a scientific study or experiment kind of research. It will be like: (just a notion, obviously will not be that similar) 1-->Challenges for pig farmers and feeds: A study in context of abc country (where farmer of abc country may be studied) 2-->Challenges for pig farmers and feeds: A study in context of xyz country Now does it make it different? Research wise it will be totally different but in some cases some of the things may overlap (general challenges for pig farmer and feeds and what has been done historically) Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 5:45
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    @user2700108 I really don't understand your assertion that it will not be a scientific study but that it will be research and a study.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 6:23
  • Well when I say it won’t be like scientific study I mean it won’t be like just carrying out same experiment in two different countries. For instance, in ideal situation water will boil at 100 degree centigrade irrespective of country or location. And also I have said it won’t be repeating the research. For e.g. When farmers of two different countries are asked about what challenges they are facing , I think responses and its analysis will be totally different as I have said that those two countries are economically, geographically far and different in their culture, language, size etc. Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 9:53
  • @user2700108 Right: then it sounds like it fits more my second case, where the country-specific data is scientifically valuable for its ability to assist things like policy-planning.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 13:48

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