Copyright and your thesis
Copyright and your doctoral thesis / portfolio
Prior to 2009, theses were submitted in hard copy only, and kept in the Library for consultation by other scholars. This meant that doctoral theses were not widely available, and that original contributions to knowledge remained somewhat hidden.
Since 2009 final submissions for doctoral awards include an electronic copy of the thesis. An electronic thesis available on the internet is considered 'published' and you need to make sure your thesis is not in breach of copyright laws before submitting.
What are the benefits of putting my thesis online?
- Personal reward – knowing your research is being read, and has a much larger potential audience
- E‐theses submission will make a hidden body of knowledge accessible
- Increased visibility as a researcher, raising your research profile
- Gain new skills for the digital age
- Global accessibility – representing the scholarship produced at Sussex
What are the potential issues arising from e‐theses?
- Confidentiality – including sensitive personal information, obtained under a promise of confidentiality, may be allowed for examination purposes but not for open access.
- Commercially sensitive material – agreements with sponsors or a patent pending, may prohibit research being made openly available for a certain period of time.
- Pre‐publication – publishers may advise against making a thesis available electronically prior to publication.
- Third party copyright material ‐ inclusion of material by other authors, such as; long quotes, images, photographs, tables and maps from published or unpublished works. Traditionally accepted in a thesis for examination purposes, but may require permission from the rights holder for e‐theses submission. Making material openly available online is considered a form of ‘publishing’.
Where to get help with copyright issues in your thesis
- Browse the Library's copyright information page including links to creative commons materials you may use for educational purposes.
- Read Copyright Issues in your Doctoral Thesis [PDF 278kb]. Produced by the Library, this slim yet comprehensive guide will help you understand and navigate copyright requirements to prepare your thesis for electronic publication.
- Work through the IPR open-access e-learning module on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and licensing © HEFCE, 2011. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Licence.
- Attend our 'Copyright Issues in your Doctoral Thesis' workshop. Book a place or join a waiting list.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on a specific query.
- Talk to your supervisor.
What are the regulations regarding final submission of my thesis?
Sussex doctoral researchers:
"On the successful completion of your examination, you are required to submit one hard and one electronic (.pdf) copy of your thesis or portfolio, both of which become the property of the University. The hard copy will be retained by your department or School."
"The electronic copy will be used to allow public access to your thesis via the University‟s Institutional Repository, Sussex Research Online. Sussex University Library will no longer hold printed hard copies of theses. An electronic copy of your thesis will also be uploaded to the Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS) run by the British Library (http://ethos.bl.uk). This service offers free access to the full text of UK theses, allowing your research to be made available to the wider scholarly community more easily. The thesis will be free to download, although the requestor may opt to pay for a print copy or a copy on CD. You will be requested to complete an EThOs deposit form upon submitting your thesis."
- Handbook for doctoral Researchers 2011/12, p 27 (emphasis and links added)
"Before submitting the hard and electronic copies of your thesis, you should check that you are able to use any third party material e.g. photographs, images, diagrams, maps and long extracts from other works. While you are permitted to use third party material in a thesis for the purposes of examination, you do not automatically have permission to make these materials freely available online. Under copyright law, making a thesis available online is considered a form of ‘publishing‟ as it makes the work available to the public. Every attempt should be made, at the earliest opportunity, to gain permission from the rights holder to include such material. All permission should be obtained in writing and an electronic copy of the correspondence should be submitted along with the electronic copy of your thesis. Further information on third party copyright permissions, including what to do if permission is not granted, is available from the Library website."
- Handbook for doctoral Researchers 2011/12, p 29 (emphasis added)
BSMS PhD researchers:
"The candidate is free to publish material in advance of the thesis but reference should be made to any such work in the thesis. Students wishing to include a copy of this published material in both the print and electronic versions of the thesis should first ensure that their agreement with the publisher permits the inclusion of this material. Material should then either be bound in with the thesis or be placed in an adequately secured pocket at the end of the thesis, with adequate acknowledgement of the original source of publication.
Permission from the rights holders to include third party copyright material is not required for the examined thesis but is essential for publication online. So before the thesis is made available electronically, the candidate should sign a "deposit agreement" confirming that all clearances have been obtained. If clearances cannot be obtained for all third party material, the candidate should be asked to provide a second, edited electronic version which can be added to the University of Brighton Repository, the University of Sussex."
- See Regulation 19: Research Degrees in the Brighton and Sussex Medical School Awarded jointly by the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex - (section 18.5). Or see a full list of the regulations.