Since a country wasn't specified, I'll throw in a case against such re-use. Plagiarism isn't necessarily the case if the work was properly cited, used only in relevant parts and not re-written verbatim in large chunks.
Depending on the intellectual property policy of the university itself, either the student, or the prof, or the university itself, owns the rights to any profit or IP generated through the course of one's studies. Most universities demand that all IP generated in a degree program by a student is owned by the university, regardless of whether or not the university provided any funding or real help.
Two Canadian universities that do not do this (that I know of) are the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and Simon Fraser University in BC. In the case of those two universities, it is very different: the student owns 100% of the rights to his/her research, and around the time of thesis defense, may:
- Make the defense private to only people relevant to the defense.
- Make all attendees sign legally binding waivers (i.e. non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs) that puts them on the hook for "perceived financial loss" if they disclose the contents of the thesis early.
- Decline requests from students, "trouble makers", etc, that want to attend and will sign the NDAs, but likely wouldn't be able to pay for the damages incurred by disclosing the details of the thesis.
- Request that publication of the entire thesis, with the exception of the thesis title (don't make it too descriptive), is delayed for one year.
- Around 8 months after the (successful) thesis defense, the student may make a request for a second 1 year delay of publication, so that (provisional, draft, or full) patent applications can proceed.
If you have the right to delay publication due to you being the sole owner of your research, then yes: you can make your prof hold off on the work for 1-2 years. If you have the right to do so, this will likely sour your relationship with your prof, and being able to use him/her as a reference.
It's quite common for profs (at least in engineering) to have a piece of work that a PhD student did become the basis of the work for a fresh graduate student. Since there's now so much information on the subject, it provides a springboard for the next student to jump into academia.
- If you intend to patent the work and make money off of it, see a lawyer. Since you likely did not take IP/legal precautions in advance, this likely won't be a fruitful endeavor.
- If you're worried you'll be "muscled out" by your prof writing another paper on the subject, get cracking, and churn out more research of your own.
- If you're feeling slighted by another student taking over your work, that's the norm in that industry, just like in non-academic settings when a new employee is brought in to replace someone who retired.
- If you're upset on general principle that you aren't in control of the research anymore: that's just life, and the advancement of human intellectual progress. Don't resent it: we all benefit by the advancement of this body of knowledge. If that still bothers you, redouble your efforts to be an expert in your specialized area of expertise.
Here's an excerpt from SFU's IP policy guidelines:
The result of research is the generation of new knowledge. The
"ownership" of that new knowledge, especially when it is knowledge
with commercial implications and/or results in scholarly publications,
is a sensitive issue. The question of ownership in the context of the
student-supervisor relationship is often complicated by the close
collaboration between supervisor(s) and student during the course of
the research. It is further complicated by the fact that the
University and possibly an outside agency provide resources (e.g.
space, library, equipment, supplies) in support of the research.
At Simon Fraser University, unlike many other universities, the person
(student, staff or faculty member) who generates patentable new
knowledge is the owner of that knowledge; the University makes no
claim on it, unless the University is asked to help with the patenting
of the idea [see Policy R30.02]. The main federal and provincial
agencies which support university research through research grants
(NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR and SCBC) also make no claims on the results. On
the other hand, copyrightable new knowledge (e.g. books and software)
is usually owned jointly by the author and the University; consult
Research contracts with government agencies or private companies often
stipulate that the rights to commercial exploitation of a discovery
belong in full or in part to the sponsoring agency. Because it is
University policy that the rights to a patentable discovery belong to
the discoverer(s), the University will approve contracts containing
such stipulations, as long as they do not restrict the ultimate
publication of the results (see Graduate General Regulation 1.11.3).
And here's the policy for the University of Waterloo, outright noting that research and all possible IP derived from it, is the property of the owner/inventor(s). It's no wonder these universities churn out so many startups and inventors: the student has a reason to care about the commercial viability of the research due to having an exclusive view to a profit from furthering the research.
University of Waterloo has long been known for researchers who are
entrepreneurial thinkers and industry partners.
At the core of entrepreneurship is Intellectual Property (IP) Rights
Policy #73, also called "creator-owned," which grants ownership to the
inventor. It's the engine for driving commercialization success of
research-based innovations and may be the most entrepreneurial
oriented IP policy in North America.
Waterloo embraces the philosophy that providing incentive through IP
ownership is the best motivator to ensure that commercialization of
research provides broad societal and economic benefit. The policy is a
feature in attracting entrepreneurial oriented faculty and graduate
students who want to engage in commercial enterprise (i.e., through
contract research and licensing opportunities with industry or
independently with their own research outcomes).
The policy and the university's entrepreneurial culture has positioned
Waterloo as a national leader in the transfer of ideas and technology
to the private sector.