Skip to Main Content

Copyright for Researchers

This guide contains copyright advice for JCU research staff and students

Thesis copyright ownership

Generally speaking, a JCU Higher Degree Rresearch (HDR) student author owns the copyright and moral rights over their thesis. Although this may not be the case for publication based theses.

Third party copyright material in your thesis

Third party material refers to any content for which you do not own the copyright.

To use third party material in your thesis (tables, maps, illustrations, photographs, etc.):

  • You need to have permission from the copyright owner, or
  • You need to be able to rely on provisions in the Copyright Act that allow you to use third party material without permission.

You do not need to seek permission if:

  • There is a licence which permits you to use the work in the way you wish to use it, e.g., a contract, web site conditions, Creative Commons licence, the copyright owner has explicitly waived copyright.
  • You are the creator of the work but you have signed copyright ownership over to a third party (such as a publisher) and you wish to use the work in a way that is permitted in the copyright transfer agreement (also known as a publishing agreement). As an example, the publisher may permit you to load an accepted version to your institutional repository.
  • Your use is covered under fair dealing exceptions.
  • You are including an insubstantial portion.
  • Copyright in the work has expired.

Many publishers use RightsLink (Copyright Clearance Center) to handle permission requests for their copyright-protected content. RightsLink provides immediate quotes (fee for use) and could grant free of cost permission.

Acknowledge any third-party content that you utilise.

Publication based theses

Publication based theses include publications produced during an HDR candidature as or part of one or more thesis chapters. If you have included any publications you should complete a Thesis Publications, Copyright and Sensitivity Declaration when you submit your thesis.

Which version of my published work should I include in my thesis?

  • Author accepted manuscript - This version is subject to the same kind of self-archiving principles as the green open access model, and you do not need to ask permission to include it in your thesis. If an embargo is required, Library staff will check this when processing your thesis for inclusion in the ResearchOnline@JCU repository.
  • Final published version - some authors like to insert the final published version into their thesis as a chapter or in an appendix. If this version isn't published with a Creative Commons licence, or you don't have rights to include it in a thesis, you should seek permission from the copyright holder if you want your thesis to be fully open access (without redactions).
  • Submitted version - occasionally authors might submit the content from one of their thesis chapters to a journal for publication. The submitted version label means the manuscript has not yet gone through a peer review process. You own the copyright on this version and there are no restrictions on including it in your thesis.


  • If you use a small section of your own published paper, reference it as you would any other scholarly work.
  • If a chapter is substantially based on one of your published journal articles, including any submitted publications not yet accepted, this should be made clear for your readers. Full citation or submission details should be included in your thesis preface or at the front of each relevant chapter, and the full citation should be included in the thesis reference list.


If your thesis contains your own published papers, you must obtain permission for the inclusion from the copyright owner (which may be the publisher). This is necessary as your thesis will be made open access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Ideally, permissions should be negotiated when signing author or publishing agreements, but if not arranged at the time, retrospective permission can be sought. However, permission may not be required if the publisher has a favourable public exemption statement or policy (refer to the FAQ linked below).

Please note, if you do not have permission to include final published versions of your papers in your thesis, they may be redacted by Library staff from the version that is uploaded to ResearchOnline@JCU.

If a chapter is substantially based on a co-authored publication, permission should also be obtained from your co-authors.

Do I need a Creative Commons licence for my thesis?

Your thesis is automatically covered by copyright. Adding a Creative Commons licence is entirely optional.

If you decide to add a Creative Commons licence, consider it carefully with your supervisory team and you might like to ask for advice from your Liaison Librarian. It is recommended that you choose a licence that offers maximum compatability for future reuse and potential publications.

If Creative Commons licensed content form part of your thesis, you need to choose a compatible licence for your whole thesis. Further, if your arising publications are copyright restricted and you have special permission to include them in your thesis, you may not be able to add a Creative Commons licence to your thesis.

Depositing your thesis in ResearchOnline@JCU

What can be deposited?

James Cook University PhD, Professional Doctorate, or Masters by Research theses must be deposited. The Library will receive a copy of the final version of your thesis from the College, once your award has been confirmed in writing by the Graduate Research School. Library staff will deposit the electronic copy of your thesis in ResearchOnline@JCU.

Please refer to the Research Online Procedure for further information.

When will my thesis be deposited?

Your thesis will be processed by Library staff for inclusion in ResearchOnline@JCU once:

  • the final examined copy has been signed off by your College Dean
  • the Library receives confirmation that your degree has been awarded, and
  • the Library has received your thesis from your College

There are University guidelines and policies for preparing and submitting your thesis. Please refer to Graduate Research School Thesis Preparation, Submission and Examination pages for further information. Before lodging your thesis, make sure that you:

Submit these forms with your thesis.

What file format to use?

Convert your thesis into Portable Document Format (PDF). This is the ResearchOnline@JCU document standard. Ensure the PDF files are unsecured and that there are no digital signatures included in the document. The Library will apply read and print only settings before it goes into public view.

DOIs for theses

Your thesis will be assigned a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), which is a unique and persistent identifier that you should use when sharing or citing your work as it will help to track citations, online mentions, and generate an Altmetric score for your work. You will be notified of the DOI and availability of your thesis via email, so it is important to provide a personal email as well as your JCU email on the Thesis Submission and Release Form.

Open Access

Theses in ResearchOnline@JCU are deposited as open access to enable worldwide dissemination of your research, and to facilitate greater discoverability and impact. Open access research benefits industry, practitioners, fellow researchers and the whole of general society with equitable access to scholarly information. See the Open Access Publishing Library Guide for more information. 

Restricting access to your thesis

In certain compelling circumstances, public access to the thesis may need to be restricted for a period of time. However, if you decide to request an embargo, it must be for 12 months or greater. You will need to write to the Dean, Graduate Research, outlining the reasons for a request to embargo your thesis, and this must be attached to the Submission and Release Form. Embargoes will only be granted by the Dean in compelling circumstances. See the HDR Thesis Library Deposit Guide for more information on embargoes.

Contact if your thesis needs to be processed urgently or if you have any other questions or concerns.

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country

Creative Commons Licence
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.