I am at the late stage of a PhD program. For some personal reasons, I have decided to quit this program and apply for a new PhD program in a different country.

I have presented one part of my research in an international conference, and I am about to submit it to a journal. Beside this paper, I have prepared 3 other papers but I have not presented them anywhere. I am the sole author of these three un-published works.

Now my question is whether it is possible to bring these researches to the next university and publish them afterwards? I am the legal owner of these researches? copyright-wise I mean.

I would be more than glad if anyone helps me in this tough situation.

PS: I would have no problem for getting recommendation letters.

  • Depends on the country and university, but you are likely not the legal owner of research performed using university/grant time or resources.
    – Luigi
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 13:20
  • Sounds like you could just finish up your PhD. With good recommendation letters go get a post-doc, not another PhD program with who-knows-what hoops to jump through.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 13:46
  • @JonCuster while that might be true in some sense, OP has unstated personal reasons for not going that route. Presumably they have weighed to pros and cons about making such a move. Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 14:01
  • @JohnColeman - True, but once one starts weighing other additional factors (like who 'owns' the research) then it is high time to re-evaluate the entire decision.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 14:03
  • 1
    Is there actually such thing as legal ownership of research? Copyrights and moral authorship rights for research papers, of course. Research equipment, sure. Research data, maybe. But research per se? What exactly are you supposed to "own"?
    – JeffE
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


Within limits, you most definitely can bring the old research with you and publish it. Unregulated digital data stored on a standard computer should be fine, but for example, there may be limitations on moving human subject data (even de-identified data) depending on what the IRB protocol said. If the research involved samples (e.g., chemical compounds) moving these may also be regulated.

You may or may not be able to use this previous work towards your dissertation. You will have to check with your new department.

  • all my research is based on public data, I have only used University grant which I have done teaching and supervision in compensation. Thanks for the reply
    – Shahin
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 15:47

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