The submission process provides you with a unique opportunity to learn more about electronic publishing and there are important copyright issues to keep in mind. The skills acquired in submitting your electronic thesis will serve you well as you continue to produce works of scholarship, more so if you choose to remain in higher education. The framework of the submission process mirrors that of a digital academic peer review journal.  We encourage you to start learning about copyright and publishing issues in the process of preparing/submitting your thesis.

You retain the copyright to your work. When you upload your thesis or dissertation to the Scholarship@Western repository, you grant The University of Western Ontario the right to preserve and provide access to your digital document. These are the same rights that Western Libraries retain for paper theses and dissertations. Prior to electronic theses and dissertations, one paper copy was stored in the University Archive, for preservation purposes, and one copy was made available to the public. (The public can view the paper copy of a thesis or dissertation by visiting the library in person or requesting the work through interlibrary loan.) Dissertations completed after 1996 are also available via the UMI Digital Dissertations service for online viewing or print-on-demand.

When is Copyright Permission Required?

You must ensure that your work does not contain a substantial amount of copyrighted material. Under the Copyright Act, the "fair dealings" provision allows the quotation of a reasonable extract of someone else's work, if properly cited. For a more extensive quotation or use of multimedia, the candidate must obtain written permission from the copyright holder(s) and include this permission in the thesis. 

Does your thesis contain someone else’s work (i.e. figures, maps, images, questionnaires, photos, etc.)?

  1. Does your thesis contain your own previously published materials (i.e. journal article)?
  2. Does your thesis include material (e.g. a chapter, an article) that was co-written with another author(s)?

 If you answered “yes” to any of these questions then you must obtain written permission to reproduce the material from the copyright owner (e.g. journal publisher and/or co-authors).

Securing Permission from Copyright Holders

Securing copyright permission may take time and we recommend seeking any needed permissions early in the thesis preparation process. Some publishers provide (on their website or in the material given to you when your article was accepted) a policy statement granting permission to publish your work in a thesis. The Sherpa Romeo website may be helpful to you in determining publishers’ polices. If you need to request permission, we suggest that you refer to, or use, the wording of the copyright Permission request sample text below. An original, signed letter on the copyright holder’s letterhead is your best protection against accusations of copyright violation, but email proof of permission from publishers or co-authors is acceptable. Keep copies of all documents for your own records.

Copyright Permission Request - Sample Text

Re: Permission to Use Copyrighted Material in a Doctoral/Master’s Thesis

Dear: I am a University of Western Ontario graduate student completing my Doctoral / Master’s thesis entitled “____***_____”. My thesis will be available in full-text on the internet for reference, study and / or copy. Except in situations where a thesis is under a delay of publication or restriction, the electronic version will be accessible through the Western Libraries web pages, the Library’s web catalogue, and also through web search engines.I will also be granting Library and Archives Canada and ProQuest/UMI a non-exclusive license to reproduce, loan, distribute, or sell single copies of my thesis by any means and in any form or format. These rights will in no way restrict republication of the material in any other form by you or by others authorized by you.

I would like permission to allow inclusion of the following material in my thesis: [insert copy or detailed explanation including the title of the article or book, the figure or page numbers of the material used, the journal name, year, volume number or unique publication identifier, the publisher and year]

The material will be attributed through a citation.

Please confirm in writing or by email that these arrangements meet with your approval.

Your Name and Signature

Cite Your Sources

Any copyrighted material used in your thesis, including photos, pictures, charts, graphs, maps, etc. must receive full citation. Each citation must include the copyright symbol, name of the copyright holder (who may or may not be the author) and a statement that the use or adaptation (in the case of adapted graphics) is by permission of the copyright holder.

Permission Denied? Unavailable?

Occasionally, permission to use copyrighted material cannot be secured, or is denied. Do not reproduce copyrighted material in your thesis without permission. Remove the copyrighted material. You will proceed differently according to the nature of the material.In the case of an image of an artifact or artwork, for example, you may include a description of what is missing, a full citation of the source of the material and where it can be found. Include an explanation that the material has been removed because of copyright restrictions. In the case of a thesis chapter that was previously published as a journal article, you should include in place of the chapter an abstract of the chapter content and a link to the journal website where the original article can be read.

Quick Copyright Links