Im my PhD thesis I'm referring to my master's thesis. Avoiding first person, I would refer to it as "the/this author's master's thesis", but the double genitive s sounds clumsy to me.

Are there better alternatives?

Is it acceptable to write "the author's master thesis"?
As discussed here, here and here, it is generally preferable to say master's thesis, but master thesis seems not totally uncommon, as well.

  • 1
    According to the usage from Ngram [click on "search" to bypass the error msg], the author's master thesis is acceptable.
    – Graffito
    Dec 2, 2015 at 16:27
  • There is a third alternative: masters thesis with no apostrophe
    – Henry
    Jan 25 at 2:01

2 Answers 2


Just use your surname and the date of your thesis as you would for any other reference. Let's pretend for a moment that your surname is Sebastian and you submitted your master's dissertation in 2010. You would reference like this:

  • As is argued in Sebastian (2010), blah, blah, blah.

Note that the citation above refers to the work not the person. You could write:

  • As argued by Sebastian (2010) ...

However, this would be a bit odd, as you could be taken to be referring to yourself by name. I'd advise against it. It may appear either just weird or disingenuous. (but that's just my opinion)

Also, it's a very good idea to check that within your field people always avoid referring to themselves in the first person. Within linguistics and philosophy for example, it is perfectly fine to refer to oneself as I. This doesn't stop even postgrad students from desperately trying to avoid it and making their prose unbearably awkward and stilted.

  • I don't like that citation style particularly much; "as argued in Sebastian" is nonsensical, adding a number in parentheses does not make it much better, I think. (I know it is common though.) I therefore write "as argued by Sebastian (2010)", but then referring to myself that way sounds really awkward.
    – Sebastian
    Dec 2, 2015 at 12:26
  • @Sebastian It depends if you are referring to the person or the work. The reference can be read as referring to either. I think it might be better to refer to the work not the person. Openly referring to yourself by your name is a bit weird. Dec 2, 2015 at 13:29
  • @Sebastian Have edited the answer to clarify that point. Dec 2, 2015 at 14:12
  • 1
    +1 The citation layout (Sebastian (2010) vs Sebastian [2]) may be constrained by his faculty or by convention within his discipline, but referencing his work using the standard format of his thesis is an objective way for the OP to cite himself.
    – Lawrence
    Dec 5, 2015 at 13:04

Dance around it.

It may be a good idea for this author to quote his master's thesis at this point.

  • It is an alternative to consider. In some cases, I'd like to refer to specific parts, like "see Theorem 17 of the author's master's thesis [10]". I'm not sure if the separate-the-genitives-tango works well here.
    – Sebastian
    Dec 2, 2015 at 12:25

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