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I am writing my thesis as a cumulative PhD, meaning that instead of describing the outcome of my project in a standard book format I write a short introduction to the compilation of publications. My thesis consists of five articles (two of which are first-author) and a manuscript in press. During my PhD studies I also co-authored a patent application that is now internationally published.

Should I incorporate the patent as a core part of my thesis, similarly to other publications? Other options include putting it in the appendix, alongside with the supplementary information to publications, or leaving it out completely.

  • Is the patent written in terms that will be readily understood by most readers of your thesis? Personally, once the patent lawyers have done their thing, I have trouble understanding even patents I helped invent. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 10 '16 at 16:56
  • It is certainly written in the patent-specific language that makes it hard to read for ones used to scientific slang used in research publications. But I would not call it unreadable and at some points it might make a better job of introducing key concepts to the general public than the publications themselves. – Klara Feb 10 '16 at 17:46
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This is something you really need to discuss with your advisor. Personally I think it may be very reasonable to include the patent application as an appendix (and the fact that you are a named inventor on a patent application is by itself quite impressive and likely to add some cachet to your thesis), but that's just my highly uninformed opinion. I don't think anyone not familiar with specific details of the patent application and how it relates to the rest of your work could give you very authoritative advice on such a question.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most patent applications are not really "authored" by the inventor. Large parts (if not the entire thing) are usually written by lawyers. So (except in the unlikely event where you actually wrote the whole thing yourself) there would be an interesting question of how to properly present/credit the patent application, and whether it would be covered by any copyright laws (I suspect patent applications are considered to belong to the public domain once they are made public, but that's just a guess). These sorts of issues are some of the reasons why inclusion as an appendix seems more appropriate to me than in the main body of the thesis.

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