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I was thinking about the following situation: A person works as a consultant in their own company. A customer for a consultant to finish their MSc or PhD thesis. The author writes on the thesis that they got help from the consultant. Can the consultant add to their CV that they have their name on a thesis?

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    Has the thesis been published? Do you think it would be a valuable add, proving you have a certain skill or knowledge? In the end, CV is a display of the skill you have and how you acquired them. If you think it would add something valuable, why not.
    – bracco23
    Feb 28, 2020 at 10:56
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    This might benefit from input from academia.se. The academic standard would be co-authorship in list of publications but theses usually don't have these.
    – ojs
    Feb 28, 2020 at 12:33
  • A thesis is a single person's achievement. If the consultant adds value, they need to be cited, and the thesis can claim as contribution only the added value above the consultant's contribution (which might be synthesising material or using it for some other purpose etc.). The consultant can not be co-author. Feb 28, 2020 at 14:02
  • Are you listed on the thesis as coauthor, or just in the acknowledgements?
    – shoover
    Feb 28, 2020 at 16:20
  • Is it a hypothetical or related to a real-world problem that you are facing? Feb 28, 2020 at 18:18

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Your resume and CV are yours. You can put anything you like on there, as long as it's true. The obvious advantage of including something is that it shows your skills and abilities.

But be aware that there are disadvantages. For example, if you include something trivial, some readers might feel that you are "padding" and see it as a demonstration of how thin your skills are. Others will feel you don't understand the very thing you're claiming to consult in. (Example: if you're a travel planner, and you tell about the time you chose the suitcases for everyone. What about booking flights and hotels? Setting routes? Planning sightseeing? Do you even know anything about travel?) And still others may feel that you're listing something one friend would do for another, not "real" work.

So word it carefully. Don't focus on whether the client listed you in the acknowledgements. Focus on what you did. Proofread? Copy edited? Ran some experiments? Crunched the numbers in Excel or R or Python? List the actual work, and mention the thesis part almost as an afterthought:

Data analysis and technical writing, ClientName, 2019. Processed 7 million data points with [blah blah blah] to demonstrate statistical significance of novel research work. Produced charts and graphs, and helped to write technical reports. Some of this work was published as my client's M.Sc. thesis from UniversityName and some included in papers submitted to JournalName.

Here the light is on what you did and why that makes you an obvious hire for what you are applying to. That's what matters, not if your name is in the thesis.

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  • CVs are different from resumes. As a curriculum vitae it's intended to contain a chronological record of deeds worth mentioning. It gets longer as its active subject gets older. So, probably padding it isn't a big worry. A resume is much more of a personal sales pitch.
    – O. Jones
    Feb 28, 2020 at 12:50
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    Different places use different names for them, and CV doesn't have that formal meaning everywhere. But even where it does you can choose which deeds to include (and how to describe them.) If you include trivial things I will think less of you. It shows bad judgment. Feb 28, 2020 at 14:09
  • @O.Jones In the UK resume is now synonymous with CV
    – Dan
    Feb 28, 2020 at 15:51
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If it's factual, and not bound by some kind of confidentiality agreement then you can put whatever you like on your CV.

Ultimately, it's a sales document - and if you think it has value, if you think potential employers would be attracted to it then go ahead.

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  • That said, if I saw “was paid to help X write their masters thesis” on a CV, I would be the opposite of impressed. Feb 28, 2020 at 12:22
  • I don't want to go off on a tangent here, but @ErnestFriedman-Hill can you elaborate? I would expect most employers to see being hired to consult on a thesis as a good sign, since it shows you have some degree of knowledge in a subject or skill, and other people trust your knowledge well enough to pay for being able to include it in a project that will have rigorous examination.
    – dwizum
    Feb 28, 2020 at 14:40
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    @dwizum thesis is single-author document. experiments, analysis or whatever can be shared. 'help write thesis' sounds like shadow writing, "was paid to implement X, used in [thesis]" is different Feb 28, 2020 at 18:19
  • Understood. I guess my point was, since we know the author gave attribution, the contribution must have been legitimate ("experiments, analysis or whatever" per your comment). If this was an actual paid ghost writer there would likely not have been any appetite on the author's behalf to mention the OP (because - as you're implying - shadow writing is distasteful). At best maybe we can agree that there aren't sufficient details in the question to determine this.
    – dwizum
    Feb 28, 2020 at 18:25
  • @dwizum — What I am thinking is pretty much what’s in Kate Gregory’s answer. If OP follows her suggestion, great. But if it literally says “assistance acknowledged in somebody’s masters thesis” then its a net negative. Feb 28, 2020 at 23:53
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Can the consult add his of her CV that (s)he has his or her name on thesis?

Yes, why not, but he must make sure that it is clear what was his role with regard to the thesis: researcher? editor? proof-reader? something else? Otherwise, the information can be assumed to be erroneous / ambiguous on purpose, with unforeseeable negative side effects.

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Having worked in HR services I can tell you that I would be skeptical on the profile of people who highlight this kind of contributions.

Now it really depends on where you're at in your career.

(A) If you're a recent grad, I would argue that this kind of contribution can be beneficial because you're compensating for the lack of work-related experience.

(B) If you have some job experience, I would expect you to emphasize anything work-related and linked to your job, not side contributions like this one. I suggest you not to mention it.

If you are in situation B and still want to mention this, I would suggest two solutions to mention this:

  1. Add it in a "project" section where you mention your involvement as a "Thesis contribution". It will certainly look better than a line dropped somewhere in your work experience.
  2. Add it in a "reference" section - see this template for example - (if the author agrees to reference your work). Then you're highlighting trust more than your contribution.

What is important is making it as important and not mention it somewhere in the middle of your resume. Otherwise it's just like you're stuffing experiences which I would not recommend.

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