Our PhD students have to complete an interim provisional report during their first year. This report usually comprises a good literature review, a statement of the problem the student will address in their remaining time, and any results to date.

Would it be acceptable to publish -- with the student's permission -- the provisional report? It is unlikely to be find a high-impact journal for such a work, so the report is likely to be published on, say, the Department's website.

1 Answer 1


No, I don't think it's a good idea, for reasons that vary with the student's status.

  • Current students: by releasing information about a student's work in progress, you make it easier for some other researcher to pick up the same project, and complete and publish it before your student ("scooping" them). This will make it more difficult, or impossible, for your student to publish their work, as it will no longer be novel - a potentially serious career impediment. Even experienced researchers tend to avoid publicly discussing their work before it is ready to publish, and for grad students the risk is greater, as they probably work more slowly than the average researcher and are less likely to win a race.

  • Former students who graduated: the provisional report is redundant, as a more complete and polished version of the same information is in their dissertation. They would probably prefer that this higher-quality version be the only one publicly available.

  • Former students who did not graduate: would probably prefer not to publicize the fact that they were a student in your department but did not receive a degree.

In principle, if a student is aware of these issues and freely consents, without pressure from you, to posting the preliminary report, it might be okay. But it's still questionable in my view, as a graduate student may not have enough experience in academia to fully comprehend the issues involved and accurately evaluate the risks. I'd err on the side of paternalism and not even suggest it.

I think it would be okay to make the reports accessible within your department, so that faculty know what students are working on, and so that students currently writing such reports have access to examples. But I would not share them with the outside world.

  • 1
    +1 This a thousand times. There is nothing to gain for the student and a lot to lose
    – Alexandros
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 7:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .