Electronic submission of theses - copyright guidelines

  • Many theses will include text, images, or other materials that were originally created by other people - this is known as 'third party content'. Material that might be in your thesis and which could be considered third party content includes:

    • Photographs not taken by yourself
    • Lengthy quotations and extracts from publications such as books or journals even if you have attributed them correctly. 
    • Patented material
    • Models/diagrams copied as found from books, even if attributed correctly
    • Maps, such as Ordinance Survey photocopies, or taken from books, even if attributed correctly
    • Photocopies/scans of paintings and other artworks, or manuscripts and historical documents. 

    Sometimes students believe they can reproduce third party material in their thesis if they provide a reference to the original - but this is not the case. See the next section for more details.

    Third part content is the intellectual property of other people, which means you may need the permission of the copyright holders before including the material in the electronic version (also known as the online version) of your thesis. Here are some conditions under which you can use third party content in your online thesis:

    1. The third party content has been given a licence (e.g. a Creative Commons licence) which allows you to use the material in your online thesis without contacting the copyright holder.
    2. You have contacted the copyright owner of the third party material and they have given you permission to include the material in your online thesis. To request permission first establish who the copyright holders are (there may be more than one), try to contact them ( here is a template letter - Word document - that you can adapt), and keep records of all communications (separately from your Oxford Brookes email).
    3. A formal legal exception to copyright law means you can include the third party content in your online thesis without the permission of the copyright holder.
    4. The work is 'out of copyright', meaning that the duration of copyright protection has expired.

    If none of the above conditions apply then you must remove the third party content from your online thesis before you submit it. This can be done individually or in bulk:

    • Individually: remove each item of third party content that you do not have permission to use in your online thesis but leave a similar amount of blank space so that the pagination is unchanged.
    • In bulk: place all the third party content that you do not have permission to use in your online thesis within a single section of your thesis (e.g. an appendix), then remove that particular section before submitting the online version of your thesis. For example, Thompson's thesis  The furrowed face originally had an Illustrations section (see the Contents List) that is not actually included in this online version of the thesis (though the bibliographic details of the sources are included in the List of Illustrations).

    Whichever way you remove the third party content, please remember these two key points:

    1. Remember to include the bibliographic details of all the third party content in the main body of the text and/or in a separate section so that the readers of your online thesis can easily find the original sources for themselves. Ideally this will also include an electronic hyperlink to each resource (preferably a persistent link, e.g. a DOI).
    2. For any third party content that you do have permission to use in your online thesis, ensure you state this clearly directly underneath the third party content (e.g. 'Used with permission of the author / publisher /photographer / author /creator' or 'Used under the terms of the licence...', etc.).

    Sources of information relating to using third party content:

    You will complete the Candidate's Declaration Form (Word document) when you submit the final print and electronic versions of your thesis. The form gives details of options for dealing with copyright material in your online thesis.

    Personal data and confidentiality are usually separate issues from copyright and third party content, but the involvement of human participants in your research (or the inclusion of material that identifies individuals in your thesis) also requires special consideration when submitting the electronic version of your thesis.

    Sources of information on personal data:

  • Further information and help

    Contact Dan Croft, Scholarly Communications and Research Team Leader 
    Telephone 01865 485085 or email dcroft@brookes.ac.uk