Q: In my thesis, can I refer to literature that was published after completion of my research?

Detailed Question -

I am preparing to submit a master's thesis. Can I refer to the literature (for the research background) that was published after the completion of my research?

The study was performed 4 years ago, so the literature (e.g. epidemiological data) to be cited in the research background were updated. In such a case, can I refer to the latest literature?

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Answer:

From what we understand, you are planning to submit your master’s thesis (that you completed four years ago) as a journal article. If so, that is a good idea, and many people do this for a variety of reasons, such as improving the visibility of the study and enhancing one’s research credentials.

You can surely go ahead and refer to current literature; in fact, it is recommended that you do so. In so doing, you may need to make changes to some aspects of the study, such as methods and discussion, and even conduct a few additional experiments as needed, to ensure your paper reflects the latest knowledge in the field.

One more thing you can bear in mind when submitting your thesis as an article is to reduce the length of the paper. Journal articles are typically much shorter than theses due to limitations of space (in print) and time (in digital).

Apart from that, you may refer to the following resources for other points to keep in mind when converting your thesis into an article.