Including copyright material in your thesis

Copyright in theses is normally held by the author, so as the author you will own the copyright in your Ulster thesis, unless you have made an agreement to transfer it, for example to a sponsor.

Your thesis may contain material protected by copyright. This could be, for example, material which you have authored and previously published, the copyright for which you have assigned to a publisher; or it could be other published material, the copyright for which is held by another individual or body. The latter is known as third party copyright and may include extracts from publications such as books or journals, or illustrations such as images, maps, photographs, tables etc. These examples should not be considered exhaustive.

Ideally you should seek permission to include copyright material in your thesis as you go along rather than leaving it until you are preparing the final draft. The Researcher Development Programme will run training courses in conjunction with the Library Team to help you understand copyright and access restriction in relation to electronic theses.

Material you have published yourself

If you intend to include material that you yourself have published, such as journal articles, you need to check if the publisher will permit you to include these as part of your thesis. The easiest way to do this is by contacting the publisher directly and explaining what you would like to do. Once you have approval from the publisher, you should indicate in your thesis that you have obtained permission to include material you have had published.

Third party copyright material

You will need to seek permission if you want to include any third party copyright material such as extracts from books, journals or other publications, or illustrations such as images, maps, photographs, tables, etc. Under certain conditions, images from third party copyright material can be made available as defined in the 'The Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014' (Directive 2011/77/EU).

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the primary UK legislation governing copyright, provides for the reproduction of limited amounts of copyright material under ‘fair dealing for criticism or review’ without permission so long as they are properly cited and, if images, are not cropped or altered. This 'fair dealing' exclusion is reasonably likely to apply to your use of third party material such as extracts from publications such as books or journals, whether text or illustrations, in an academic doctoral thesis. For example, if the third party copyright material within your thesis consists of a short quotation from a published work and you have acknowledged and referenced it adequately it will probably not be necessary to seek permission from the copyright holder. Copyright law does not define how much material can be reproduced for this purpose, however, so if in doubt, request permission.

If you have included third party copyright material which has not been published, for example photographs of art works in a gallery or copies of web documentation of a performance, or you are including a substantial amount or the whole of a work then it is likely that you will need to seek permission from the copyright holder to include that in the final version of your thesis. A different 'fair dealing' exception applies to the use of copyright material for the purpose of examination.

To seek permission to include third party material within the electronic version of your thesis you need to contact the rights holder: this may be the author of a work, a publisher, an illustrator etc. In the case of material from books and journals your first course of action should be to contact the publisher.

You should note that failure to obtain permission to include third party copyright material in the electronic version of your thesis will not affect the outcome of your oral examination in any way. If you cannot clear copyright for all material included in your thesis, or if there is confidential or commercial information which cannot be made open access, you should consider submitting an edited version of your thesis. If only small parts of your thesis are affected, you may edit, remove or redact the material if it does not affect the thesis as a whole. Speak to your supervisory team for more information about this. The edited version can then be made available on open access, without an embargo, enabling you to secure the benefits of open access.

What to do if permission is granted

If permission is granted you should indicate this at the appropriate point in your thesis and retain the evidence.

What to do if permission is not granted

If you are unable to obtain permission you will not be able to make the full version of the thesis publicly available online and should consider restricting access.

Ulster University Doctoral College - Social