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The situation goes like this: Within my dissertation (doctoral degree) I present a software library which I wrote by myself for a company I work for. Thus, the software is commercial and the rights are owned by the company. The company is fine that I present the software in the dissertation. The software is presented in the dissertation by an own chapter and used for experimental evaluations. However, is it legitimate to present such a software as part of the dissertation from an academia point of view?

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    Ask your advisor. In some countries and for some kind of doctoral funding (e.g. "thèse CIFRE" in France) it is very common. – Basile Starynkevitch Nov 6 '17 at 16:49
  • What kind of dissertation, Master's or Doctoral? Standards are different between the two. – user71659 Nov 6 '17 at 18:48
  • @BasileStarynkevitch My advisor is completely fine with it. However, I had some worries that it my not be legitimate in the sense of scientific work due to the tight relationship to a commercial company. – John Threepwood Nov 7 '17 at 6:52
  • @user71659 it is a Doctoral thesis. – John Threepwood Nov 7 '17 at 6:52
  • You could also ask (for scientific purposes) your company the written permission to publish that code as binary freeware or as free software. YMMV – Basile Starynkevitch Nov 7 '17 at 10:24
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It depends on your actual area. In general, I believe that it is acceptable (I'm in Electrical engineering). However, you need to justify your scientific contribution. How is the work you did in this software a contribution to your thesis?

Also, as a thesis examiner, I would expect a detailed description of the algorithms / methods developed for this software to be able to assess your contributions. Are you willing to do so? Does the company you work for allow you to disclose this information?

  • I appreciate your answer, thank you. Yes, I describe all algorithms and implementation details of the software in the thesis to make a scientific contribution. The scientific contribution is clearly there. The company is fine with describing all details in the thesis. However, I had some worries that it my not be legitimate in the sense of scientific work due to the tight relationship to a commercial company. Thus, it may seem the research is done in a biased/prejudiced way. – John Threepwood Nov 7 '17 at 6:55
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    @JohnThreepwood on the contrary, being connected to industry gives more validity to your work. At least, that is the case in my area. No matter what though, you get assessed on the innovation part; and that must be clear. – electrique Nov 7 '17 at 10:54
  • Your statement 'on the contrary, being connected to industry gives more validity to your work.' is a fair point. I know of researcher who would disagree with that, but being connected to the industry actually shows that the research done is relevant for real application purposes (not only in principle). Thank you. I'll let you know how the, soon to come, defense worked out. – John Threepwood Nov 7 '17 at 11:57

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