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Theses and Dissertations: Theses FAQ

Publishers' agreements and retaining your rights

The SPARC Author Addendum is a legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles. The Author Addendum is a free resource developed by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) in partnership with Creative Commons and Science Commons, established non-profit organizations that offer a range of copyright options for many different creative endeavors.

Several alternative addenda are available via the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine, maintained by Creative Commons.


If an article you published is included in your thesis

The following Q&A is drawn with permission from guidance offered by Kathy Johnson of the CalTech Libraries in California:

What if I want to have a journal article as a chapter in my thesis?

If you have published an article or articles before you turn in your thesis, and you wish credit for that for your graduate requirements, you have a number of options. These should be discussed with your committee, and possibly with your publisher. First, you can simply cite that publication in your references. Second, if the publisher has the publication online, you can link or point to it (with permission of the publisher, who usually has protection so that paying customers or subscribers are the only ones allowed access). Third, if the publisher gives you a signed release, you can include the publication in your thesis as allowed in that release. If the publisher restricts access in that release, say to the KAUST community, you may want to have 2 versions of your thesis or dissertation--one with and one without the chapter (e.g., published article) in question.

This matter may be avoided if your thesis discusses your research in a very different way from the published article. That often makes sense, since articles are typically short, and your thesis or dissertation may be the only place where all the details, data, tables, and other aspects of your research are made available.

Remember that preparing a thesis is part of your graduate experience, one aim of which is to prepare you to be a part of the world of research and publication. We hope you will treat your thesis submission as part of your educational experience, and will take steps when you deal with publishers to help other students gain the widest possible access to your research.

What do I need to know about signing agreements with publishers?

When you have your research published in a conference, book, or journal, you usually sign some type of agreement with the publisher. You should read that agreement carefully before signing, making sure you understand AND AGREE with the terms and conditions. If you don't, you may want to change the agreement in connection with discussion/negotiation with the publisher, and possibly with advice of legal or other counsel. The agreement should be explicit about what future rights of use you retain. If you want to include the materials in a dissertation or to reuse the materials for teaching or a book chapter, say so.

As the author you are entitled to discuss your plans with the publisher. We encourage you to obtain an agreement that allows you to include your research in a freely available electronic thesis.

Printed Books

These printed works are available in the KAUST Library "Reference" collection (Level 2, low book shelves adjacent to main stacks):

Bailey, S. Academic writing: a handbook for international students. London; New York: Routledge, 2008.

Hogue, A.  First steps in academic writing. White Plains, NY: Pearson/Longman. 2008.

MLA handbook for writers of research papers. New York: Moden Language Association of America. 2009.

Oshima, A. and A. Hogue. Introduction to academic writing. White Plains, NY: Pearson/Longman. 2006.

Turabian, K. L.  A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations: Chicago style for students and researchers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.