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Managing copyright material in your thesis

Making your thesis available in the research portal

At Bond all Doctoral theses are uploaded into the University's Research Portal which is an Open Access repository.

As an original work you own the copyright in your thesis and data, but if you include any work created by another person this must be cleared before upload into the Research Portal.  

To ensure that your thesis is 'Open Access' copyright compliant, you must check the following:

  • you have permission in writing from the copyright owner, or have a publisher's permission licence, to use any copyrighted material created by others in your thesis.
  • you have a publisher's agreement, or copyright permission, allowing you to reproduce a portion or the whole Accepted version of your own published article in your thesis.

You do not need permission to use:

  • an insubstantial portion of a work, for example short quotes from a book or a journal article
  • work that carries a Creative Commons licence (but you should state the licence)
  • works where the copyright has expired. When the copyright has expired, the work is considered in the Public Domain and can be used without the copyright owner's permission.

Copyright for researchers toolkit

Using the Copyright for Researchers Toolkit is essential to keep track of any third party copyright material in your work, or if you are planning to produce a thesis by publication.  

Download the Toolkit and Copyright Log Template in excel format (available below) to record and track copyright permission requests and licences during your research. The Tootlit contains a sample permission letter, as well as easy-to-read information on gaining copyright permissions for higher degree research students.

Using copyright material created by others

Management of copyright material is an important element of your thesis journey. 

Careful management of other peoples' work, also known as third-party materials, when writing your thesis will ensure an uncomplicated submission. If copyright material that does not belong to you is included in a thesis, e.g., images, tables, graphs, charts, or a survey template, then you must obtain permission from the copyright owner/publisher to include the reproduced material.  Copyright permission is also required if you want to adapt or modify a copyrighted work, e.g., a diagram in a published article or website.

Gaining Permissions or a Publisher Licence

Permission for the reproduction of copyright works, e.g., diagrams, photographs, maps, and tables, can take different routes. 

Website content belongs to the website owner. Check the Terms of Use, usually found in the website footer, before copying images or diagrams from a website. Ask for permission by sending a request via the website Contact page using the template letter in the Copyright for Researchers Toolkit.

The reproduction of figures and diagrams from scholarly journal articles in a thesis is typically available free of charge, but permission is still required.

The permission letter template in the Copyright for Researchers Toolkit can be used in many cases, however, many publishers direct user permission requests to the RightsLink automated permission-granting service, whilst other publishers have their own online permission request form. The 'Request Permission' link is often found on the same page as the published article, or the journal website.

Publishers generally have a 'Permissions' link near the title of the article as shown in the example below. 

Permissions from a publisher come in the form of a licence.

The Manager, Scholarly Publications & Copyright can assist with copyright permissions and general copyright queries. Please make contact at least three (3) months before your thesis submission date for a thorough copyright check.

Example publisher licence application process

Step 1 - Request permission

The first step in gaining permission to reproduce a figure/table/diagram from a research article, or an entire article of which you are an author, in your thesis is to go to the published article in the journal and open the 'Tools' or 'Permissions' link or icon then select 'Request permission'. 

A journal's 'Permissions' link is found in various places on the article webpage depending on the publisher, e.g. left or right-hand sidebar.

Screenshot: requesting permission from a journal site

Step 2 - Complete the form

The link will take you to the CCC RightsLink page. Select 'reuse in a dissertation/thesis'. Complete the form. 

CCC RightsLink form

Step 3 - Acquire licence

Click the 'Continue' button to acquire the licence that will provide permission to reproduce the self-authored article, or figure/table/diagram, from the article in your thesis.  Note that the licence is commonly free of charge.


Step 4 - Compile permission files

All the publisher permission licenses should be compiled into one pdf file (named: Copyright Permissions) and this should be uploaded into WorkFlowGen with the pre-examination copy of your thesis.

PDF down arrow

Avoid plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when the work of another person, or persons, is used and presented as one's own.

If you include other people’s words, ideas, or materials without proper acknowledgment (such as including an intext citation, footnote, and reference list entry) you are plagiarising. This is classified as academic misconduct.

The University regards very seriously any acts of cheating, or dishonesty by way of plagiarism and there is a range of penalties that may be imposed on an HDR student for instances of plagiarism which is a breach of the University's Research Misconduct Policy (available below).

Bond University uses Turnitin to check HDR student work for plagiarism.  Read the poster below which illustrates a wide range of actions that are plagiarism.

Moral rights

Creators of copyright material hold moral rights in the material they create even if they do not hold copyright.

They include the right:

  • to be acknowledged or attributed as the creator of the work
  • not to have their work falsely attributed, to anyone else, and
  • not to have their work used in a derogatory manner.

You must fully acknowledge any copyright material that you use. The attribution must be clear and reasonably prominent in captions under artistic works such as images, diagrams and photographs no matter the source, whether it be a journal article, book, another thesis, or a website.  Literary works should always carry in-text citations and all works should appear in the reference list.

Further information

Copyright Guide for Research Students: What you need to know about copyright before depositing your electronic thesis in an online repository. This is a useful guide for PhD students that contains copyright scenarios.

See the 'Submitting a thesis' tab for further information on presenting your copyright permissions and licences with your thesis.