I'm a Master's student studying Computer Graphics and Animation. I've already proposed my thesis and have been deep in prototype development for a while. I've gotten some pretty cool results already (mostly pretty pictures and animations). I'd really like to share some of the images I've created to get the attention/support of other graphics researchers and to encourage public interest in the field. However, from day one my advisor has encouraged me to keep most of the details of my research a secret until I've published my work. I've gotten almost the opposite advice from other sources.

Besides some protection from stolen ideas, what other benefits are there to keeping my work a secret until it's published (or submitted to a journal/conference)? Are there compelling reasons to start sharing some of my work now?

  • I think you've nailed the most compelling reasons for and against secrecy in your question. But perhaps your supervisor knowns a bit more than we do, from experiences in their particular community - have you asked them for the specific reasons for being secretive? Feb 5, 2017 at 16:54
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    I am not a lawyer, but I believe that some kinds of presentations of unpublished work (e.g. conferences and sometimes seminars) may complicate or prevent obtaining IP for you work in some circumstances.
    – Bitwise
    Feb 5, 2017 at 18:37
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    Since you said it's pretty pics and animations you're sharing, maybe make sure to put your name and © in a corner in the graphic.
    – Gerd
    Feb 5, 2017 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


If you act in spreading out your work without official publication, against your advisor's explicit suggestions you risk:

  1. making a costly mistake in that you find your work being presented by others without attribution (I for sure know cases where this happened)

  2. upsetting your advisor if the work included ideas that he wanted to accumulate credit for using in a publication

  3. taking away the impact that a well-established impressive publication can achieve and exchanging that for a gradual acclimatisation of the community in the sense that "yes, we always knew this works, it is kinda obvious" (I have witnessed this too, namely that an idea which nobody seemed to have before, but was pushed incrementally rather than in a singular step was later called obvious)

  4. losing credit for novelty if someone else presents it even if you are attributed; after all, the work has been presented, and your later publication will have lost freshness (again, I am aware of a concrete example).

That being said, there are benefits of being open, namely when it is unlikely that people will claim the work, or it is hard to copy, or so exotic that people are not likely to engage in it. In this case, your problem is to convince them that it is good work and you have to permit them to acclimatise to it, anyway. Then, being open and spreading the idea to get them to get used to it is helpful. This is the counter scenario to above setting.

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