What Will Happen to Your Thesis After Your Graduation.
What Will Happen to Your Thesis After Your Graduation.

So, what is going to the the future of your thesis after your graduation? Will it be forgotten or will it change the world? Let’s see possible directions that it could take and how you could influence its destiny. There is not a scenario that is more probable and your actions as well as the quality of your work may influence the path that your thesis will take.

Independently to what will happen, you will be graduated and you learned for the process: these are the most important aspects.

1- Your thesis will be (almost) forgotten

This possibility is relatively concrete. Maybe you are not particularly proud of your thesis or maybe you are completely disappointed of your entire academic experience and/or with your supervisor. If that is the case you are not probably doing any action for promoting and supporting your work. The university will probably keep your thesis in some digital archives for improving its anti-plagiarism tools. In addition, in the case the university adopts an open access policy, it will also be published in its dedicated repository. This is the end of the story. What will happen to your thesis after your graduation? Not much.

What needs to be done for facilitating this to happen:

  • You: do noting.
  • Your supervisor: does nothing
  • Your external supervisor: does nothing
  • The university: does nothing

This is the path of least resistance and if this is not what you want you should consider taking some actions!

2- Your thesis will be used by another student

One of your friends may like what you did or your supervisor as an interest in continuing a similar work in this direction. Maybe he/she see the possibility of some sound research or is simply curious about the topic. In this case your related work could be used as starting point for the work of the other student. He/she could use the same data for different research question as well. Please note that sometimes is simply not possible to reuse your work without your direct support. If this is the case your thesis will probably become abandoned. In order to maximize the possibility of reused I encourage all the students do think critically to how they could pass some of their experience to “the next generation” by “writing a letter to the your self”. Sometimes is still not sufficient but is a starting point.

What needs to be done for facilitating this to happen:

  • You: Organize the material around your thesis in a sound and structured way and document this aspect. Maybe get in touch with a potential student and exchange a few emails with him/her.
  • Your supervisor: is interested in continuing the work that you did. Read and understand the extra documentation that you provided and is aware of your contacts once you will graduate.
  • Your external supervisor: does nothing
  • The university: does nothing

3- Your thesis will be used by a student association

During your studies you may developed a good relationship with other students and been part of a fraternity or association. These student organizations may have an interest in passing your work to a younger student so that he/she will learn from what you did or simply because your story will not be forgotten. Your thesis after your graduation can follow this path only if you have been actively involved in the association before.

What needs to be done for facilitating this to happen:

  • You: everything at point 2 plus your willingness to stay in touch with the student association after your graduation.
  • Your supervisor: everything at point 2.
  • Your external supervisor: does nothing
  • The university: does nothing

4- Your thesis will contribute to the research of your supervisor

Your supervisor may have an active interest in the topic of your thesis and is considering additional researches in topics that overlap with what you did. If that is the case he/she will probably inform you, try to involve you in some additional activities and ask you to document in detail some aspects of the work that you did. In this why your thesis after your graduation will not be forgotten. He/she could continue the work or pass it to another student. As you are probably graduated, these activities will not influence your final grade and you can’t expect a remuneration. Consequently, is up to you to decide your involvement. If you will opt for not supporting and actively participating to this venture your thesis can still be used in a scientific publication. Probably some of the material that you developed will be reused in an article and you may be mentioned in a thank you note (if the particular venue will allow it) or your thesis will be one of the references.

What needs to be done for facilitating this to happen:

  • You: do noting. However, activities at point 3 may help.
  • Your supervisor: will spend extra time mentoring you and trying to understand all the aspects of your research. He will continue/ adjust/ improve your work in order to make it scientifically sound.
  • Your external supervisor: does nothing.
  • The university: covers the cost of the research that your supervisor will do as well as the costs of publishing the material.

5- You will co-author a publication that use part of the content of your thesis

You have an active interest in ensuring that some of the work that you did for your thesis will be published. Maybe because you are considering a Research Master or PhD studies. Maybe you are working at an institution that promote research. Or simply because you like the idea.

If that is the case you should read the pro and the cons of publish some of the content of your thesis and be ready “to pay the price”. You should have discussed this possibility with your supervisor and make sure that he is on-board with this idea. Depending on how much you will be involved you could be the first author or the last author. Nevertheless, in order to be able to co-author the scientific publication you must have an active role in its building after the submission of your thesis. You should commit time to fulfill this activity. Failure in completing in time the tasks that will be assigned to you will probably result in delaying the work of all your co-authors and consequently you may be excluded.

What needs to be done for facilitating this to happen:

  • You: all the activities at point 3 plus discussion with your supervisor and active involvement in the work for building the publication.
  • Your supervisor: all the activities at point 4.
  • Your external supervisor: if you are employed in an company that support research you may receive extra “free time” to be assigned to this task.
  • The university: all the activities at point 4.

6- Your thesis will contribute to some national or international research project

This is a small variation of point 4. Your supervisor is involved in one or more research projects and will use some of the content of your thesis as part of a deliverable that is expected. Usually (but not necessarily) you are aware of this and you already had a conversation with your supervisor.

  • You: do noting. However, the actions at point 3 may help.
  • Your supervisor: Everything at point 4 plus finding the proper way to integrate part of your work in the research project.
  • Your external supervisor: does nothing.
  • The university: does nothing.

7- Your thesis will be used in the company where you were doing your internship

This scenario can happen in parallel to any of the scenarios described before. The company/institution where you did your internship likes your work and see a business case for pursuing some of the recommendations of your thesis.

What needs to be done for facilitating this to happen:

  • You: do noting. However obtaining a working position there may help.
  • Your supervisor: does nothing.
  • Your external supervisor: actively support and promote the work that you did and, if you still work there will help you in promoting your ideas internally.
  • The university: does nothing.

What will be the destiny of your thesis after your graduation?

The short answer is: “everything could happen”. The more you are actively involved in supporting your work the higher will be the chances that your thesis will not be forgotten. Its destiny is pretty much in your hands. Scenarios like the one described in point 5 and 7 requires your active involvement in continuing the work that you did. If you are not prepared to do that you can’t expect that a company will implement some of your recommendations and will give you all the credit or that you will find yourself “magically” co-author of a publication. There is not a “free ride” in academia or industry just because you did a thesis. If you believe in your thesis and you are willing to do extra work these results may happen. If you do nothing, things will naturally tend towards scenario 1.

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This article (What Will Happen to Your Thesis After Your Graduation) is part of the miniseries on how to do a good thesis, you can see the full list of post at the following links:


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