A colleague of mine who also writes a master thesis in lattice QCD (theoretical/computational physics) asked me to make him a few simple figures with TikZ. They show a fundamental concept and are not particularly hard. The plaquette (see page 3) is just a square with arrows on the lines and then some labels on the edges. The clover term (see page 4) is just four plaquettes. The concepts are fundamental, I could create a plaquette drawing in my sleep, for the clover I need a quick glance at a sketch to get everything right.
It took me like 20 minutes to make the sketches. He has send me images taken from other papers and books to give me the idea. Those figures are used everywhere in books and introductory papers. There they do not seem to refer to anything else but just give the figures. He will submit his thesis with the images next week.
My own master thesis will be due next fall, and I can certainly also use those figures in my thesis. I doubt that somebody will pull up his thesis and my thesis, find the exact same looking images (except the font of the text), look at the dates of publication, and call me out for plagiarizing. However, I'd to handle this situation properly because this situation might arise again with a less trivial figure.
What would I into the caption in my thesis?
- “insprired by Author ”
- “taken from Author , typeset in TikZ”
- Nothing at all, the other authors did not do that and the figure is not that hard to do anyway
Should I somehow refer to the colleague's thesis although it only has prompted me to create those figures now instead of in six months? I am not sure whether he will say anything about me making those figures, should I ask him to do that such that I can safely use those figures myself?