I have recently started a PhD program but already have a good idea for a research path that could have culminated in a thesis if not for the fact that I will possibly soon be no longer registered as a PhD student. I will not be able to continue working on this direct topic, but there is a chance that I will be able to contribute to very similar research topics in an auxiliary function, so I will not entirely be “out” of the field. How possible is it, then, to use what research I’ve already done to contribute to a new attempt at a thesis at a later date?

Circumstantial information

  • The field is related to technology, so am I correct in assuming that this is likely to be riskier than in fields which are less volatile? — If my contributions are no longer “new”, I suppose they will not be able to be used towards a thesis.
  • Likewise, if I work on similar topics albeit in supporting roles, is it not possible to incorporate knowledge from these roles formally in a thesis assuming I have publications to support my contributions to said work?
  • Finally, there are administrative issues to address which I have very little experience with such as passing exams and such; Could e.g. coursework already taken be applied to the new stint as a PhD student? Is there even perhaps a “minimum time” required for working on one’s thesis, preventing them from e.g. in the most extreme case writing a thesis before even starting an academic program and then handing it in after finishing the last exam? I suppose that this is handled on a case-by-case basis, but I’d be very grateful even for anecdotal evidence.

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