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Copyright and preparing an eThesis for publication

See also the FAQs available from the Monash Research Repository website and more information in the podcast 'ethesis: Managing copyright' (via MIGR Intranet - Monash authcate required)

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How do I know whether there are any copyright issues related to my eThesis?

If you have included any third-party copyright works in your thesis you will definitely need to assess their copyright status and obtain the necessary permissions before you publish your thesis in the Monash University open access Research repository.

Third party works include any visual elements reproduced (images diagrams maps charts etc) or any text excerpts greater than 1% of the source work (book, journal article, screenplay, report). Unless these works are out of copyright or came with some kind of open licence to republish freely you'll need to obtain permission from the copyright owner to reproduce these kinds of works in your thesis. For unpublished text works (letters, manuscripts in archives, etc) and short works (poems, song lyrics etc) even very small amounts of text can be deemed 'substantial' so obtaining permission will be especially important for those works.

Please refer to sections 6.2 Intellectual property and postgraduate research candidates and 7.6.4 'eThesis' of the Handbook for Doctoral and MPhil Degrees and to the Monash University Copyright website (Students page) for detailed information.

Do I need permission to put my thesis on my website or on Facebook?

This depends on whether you have already published parts of your thesis, your article or paper before and if so, whether you retained copyright in your work and what the publisher’s policies are.

Monash students and staff own copyright in their theses as long as they haven’t already transferred copyright through a written agreement. For more information see Ownership of Student Copyright .and Ownership of copyright at Monash. If you have already published parts of the thesis in a journal article or conference proceedings you would need to check your publication agreement to see if you have transferred copyright to them or granted an exclusive licence. Then you would need to get the publisher’s permission to place the material online. Some publishers’ agreements permit authors to place copies of their articles online, or in draft form or with a link to the publisher site. It depends on the policies of the publisher. Information about publisher policies can be found at will my publisher allow me to republish?
If you retain copyright and have not granted an exclusive licence, you should be able to make the work available online.

Remember, placing your thesis on your website or on facebook is the same as publishing it. You would need to clear copyright in any material owned by other creators e.g. images, figures or extensive quotations. If you are a co-author of the thesis you would need permission from the other authors to place it online. If there was any confidential information or sensitive material in the thesis you may need to remove this before placing it online.
You also may need to consider whether you want to publish this thesis in another format e.g. journal articles, monographs. Some publishers will not consider research that has already been published, even if only on your personal website or to your facebook friends.

Will my thesis be more open to plagiarism if it is available online?

In some ways, yes, it will - because the extent of the exposure to public review is very high when the thesis is published on an open access website. But you need to balance this risk against the benefits of having your thesis and research available to a much greater readership.

All published works run a higher risk of being plagiarised, compared to unpublished works or works held under restricted access. Nevertheless, like all copyright works in Australia (whether published or not) your thesis automatically attracts copyright protection (no need to register under Australian law) and this includes the protection of your moral rights as the author: to be correctly attributed as the author, and not to have others use your work in a derogatory manner (ie in a way that would harm your reputation).

To remind readers of your rights and guard against plagiarism it is therefore important that you follow MRGS guidelines and include the 2 copyright notices in the front matter of your thesis. Refer to section 7.6.4.3 'Copyright notices' and 7.6.4 'eThesis' of the Handbook for Doctoral and MPhil Degrees. for details.

What will happen if I can't get all the permissions?

Nothing particularly alarming will happen if you can't ultimately secure the required permissions: you don't need copyright permissions for the thesis submission and examination process.

However, you may not be able to proceed with your intended publication of the thesis, in its full form, until you can obtain all relevant copyright permissions, or otherwise verify that the third-party content included in your thesis can be republished without risk.

When proceeding with publication, you will be required to sign an agreement with Monash University (Library Release Agreement/Thesis Contributor Agreement). This agreement serves as a contract between you and the University, and in it you indicate that you are able to publish the content of thesis and will not be infringing the rights of any third-party in doing so.

In addition to this formal publication agreement you will also need to submit further evidence detailing the permissions obtained for significant third-party content within the thesis, and/or indicating whether there are any outstanding copyright issues to resolve (ie, permission sought but never got a response; too costly, etc).

Be prepared to make some changes or omissions to the published version of the thesis if some permissions are not forthcoming or are too costly to obtain.

Both the publishing agreement (Library Release Agreement/Thesis Contributor Agreement) and a sample the eThesis Copyright Clearance form are available from the MRGS thesis submission webpage.

Who will own copyright in the online version of my thesis?

You as the student / author will still retain copyright ownership in the thesis (strictly speaking: in terms of the content that you create yourself - but obviously not in any third-party content included).

When you publish your thesis in Monash University's Research Repository, you provide a non-exclusive licence for Monash to publish your copyright work. You are not asked to hand over (assign) copyright in your work to Monash University.

What if I secure publication with an external publisher?

Monash University will cease to provide open access to the full text version of the thesis if requested by a publisher in instances where a thesis is accepted for publication elsewhere. The University will however retain the right to supply the thesis in whole or in part, under Section 51 (2) of the Copyright Act. This grant is stated within the publishing agreement between you and the University (Library Release Agreement/Thesis Contributor Agreement form).

When negotiating with external publishers, you should inform them that a version of the thesis is available online through the Monash University Research Repository but that access to this version can be restricted if the publisher requires.

Send an email inquiry to the University's Copyright Adviser.