Copyright & Submission of Digital Theses
What is Open Access? | About UMER | Choosing a Publishing Model | Your Rights & Responsibilities | Dealing with third party copyright material | Supervisor Objection | Related Topics | More Information
All students completing a Research Higher Degree who enrolled in the course from 1st January 2007 must now submit an electronic copy of their thesis to the University's Digital Repository (UMER) as a requirement for completion as prescribed under Statute 12.5 . When depositing their thesis, students will have to choose between making the full text of their thesis available on open access or only making the citation and metadata (keywords which describe the thesis and which search engines use to locate information) available. It is important that in choosing whether or not to make their thesis available on open access or only displaying the citation and metadata, students understand their copyright rights and obiligations and the implications of choosing open access or citation and metadata.
Open access is a form of electronic publishing. Under open access, authors chose to make their material freely available for anyone to access on the web. Material is often made available via a repository or in an open access journal. A paid subscription is not required to access material. Material on open access is still subject to copyright, but authors choose to allow some uses of their material for certain purposes such as non-commercial use, research, personal use or education use. This means that you can view, download and print an article that you find available on open access for your research without having to pay for it or seek permission from the copyright owner. If you wish to use material for other purposes, such as commercially, you will need to seek permission from the author or copyright owner.
There are many different Open Access Journals and Repositories covering a wide variety of material and subjects. There are discipline based repositories such as PubMed Central and Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). Format based repositories such as the Australasian Digitial Theses Project (ADT) and institutional repositories that allow institutions such as universities and research associations to make their research material. The University of Melbourne has its own digital repository - the University of Melbourne Eprints Repository (UMER).
One of the benefits of choosing to make your thesis available on open access is that it is freely and readily accessible by other researchers. Open Access material is indexed by Google and other search engines and can be easily found by other researchers. As other researchers do not have to have a paid subscription to access material available on open access, there are fewer barriers to making your research widely available. Studies in the benefits of open access show that by making your thesis available on open access, it increases the number of citations of your research in other publications. Additionally making your thesis available on open access, may increase the chances of getting your work published commercially. Some publishers on seeing that there is market for a particular thesis as a result high usage from open access, have approached the author with an offer to publish their thesis. By depositing your thesis in UMER, there will be a permanent URL to your thesis and statistics are available on the number of people who have accessed your thesis.
However, open access publishing is only one of several publishing models that you can choose from in order to publish and disseminate your research. Open Access Publishing may not be the most suitable way for you to make your research available. For some of you, publishing your research commercially may be more appropriate than publishing it on open access. One of the disadvantages of open access is that many traditional commercial book and publishers will only publish material is if has not been previously published or made available to the public - this is known as "the right of first publication". If you think you might be able to publish your material commercially, e.g in a journal or in book, you should so this before making you material available on Open Access. It is important that you consider your publishing options carefully and understand the advantages and disadvantages of the different publishing models available. See below for information on publishing models.
UMER is the University of Melbourne's digital repository and its purpose is to make the University's intellectual output freely available worldwide. Academics and reseachers are encouraged to submit their research papers and journal articles etc. Both published material, such as journal articles and book chapters, and unpublished material, such as conference papers and theses can be submitted. Higher Degree Research students who commenced after 1 January 2007, are required to submit a digital copy of their thesis to UMER. By depositing your thesis in UMER, there will be a permanent URL to your thesis and statistics are available on the number of people who have accessed your thesis.
Material in UMER is still subject to copyright but can be used for personal non-commercial research. If researchers wish to use material from UMER for any other purposes, such as commercially, they will need to seek permission from the copyright owner. The copyright owner will generally be the author or creator unless the copyright has been transferred to other party. This is often the case when material is published in journals.
Academics and researchers depositing material in UMER must also make sure that they have the rights to all material in their research. Some journal articles, book chapters, theses etc. may contain material, such as images for example, that have been created by other people. This material is often refered to as third party copyright material. In order to make their material available on UMER, academics and researchers must ensure that they have sought permission for any third party material included in their work.
In submitting your theses to UMER as part of the digital theses submission process, you should clearly understand the rights that you hold in your material and also your copyright responsibilities.
The University has mandated that all higher degree research students commencing after 1 January 2007 must submit a digital copy of their thesis. This must be a digital version of the final copy submitted for examination. You will be ask to choose whether or not you want the full text of your thesis available on open access or only the citation and metadata displayed. You will own copyright in your thesis so you have the right to choose whether or not you wish to make your theses available in full text for open access. In order to make your thesis available on open access you should consider the following:
- Is Open Access the best publishing model for me?
- Do I want to publish my thesis?
- Has my theses been previously published in part or in full?
- Does my thesis contain third party copyright material?
- Does my thesis contain confidential, commercial or other material that should not be made publicly available?
- Does my supervisor has an objection to my thesis being made available on open access (e.g. collaborative research project, confidential or commercial material)?
As discussed above, Open Access Publishing is only one way of publishing your thesis. It might be more appropriate for your needs to publish your thesis as a journal article or as a book or a chapter in a collected work.
Many major publishers will only publish material that has not been previously published or made available on open access. If you want to publish your thesis either in full as a book or in part as a journal article or book chapter, you should do so before you make your thesis available on open access. For some disciplines, it is important for researchers to publish in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. In this case, you should explore your publishing options before you make your thesis available on open access. Your supervisor and other academics in your field may be able to provide guidance on what your publishing options may be.
If you are successful in publishing your thesis in part or in full, you may still be able to make your thesis available on open access, subject to your publishing agreement. You should keep a copy of any publishing or author agreements, you sign so that you understand and have a record of the rights you have given your publisher as well as any rights you retain.
There may be other reasons why you may not want or be able to make your theses available on open access. Your research may be part of a pending patent in which case you can not make it available on open access. Some theses will be the subject of research or funding agreements that may restrict the research being made publicly available due to confidential or commercial reasons. You may be able to make the theses available after a embargo period. As with publishing agreements, you should read any research or funding agreements carefully and make sure that you understand any restrictions or obligations that apply. Keep a copy of any agreement you sign. Contact Melbourne Research Office for more information about funding or research agreements.
You may choose not to make your thesis available on open access if it contains third party copyright material and you are either unable or choose not to seek permission to make the third party copyright material available on open access. See below for more information.
You may also have personal reasons for not wanting to make your thesis available on open access. As copyright owner, you have the sole right to decide whether or not your thesis is made available on open access. Your supervisor may also have an objection to your thesis being made available on open access. See below for more information.
If you chose not to make your thesis available on open access, a citation and abstract will still be available on UMER. The University Library will also be entitled under s51(2) of the Copyright Act 1968 to supply copies of your thesis, in part or in full, to library users and other libraries for the purposes of research and study. Under this provision of the Copyright Act, copies can only be used for research and study, not for any other purpose. If users wish to use your thesis for any other purpose, they will need to seek your permission. Copies of your thesis can also be used by academics for teaching purposes under the Part VB Statutory Licence.
If at any time, you change your mind and wish to make your thesis available on open access instead of having only the citation and metadata available or you wish to only make the citation and metadata available instead of having the thesis on open access, you can contact the UMER Team.
if you have published your thesis, in part or in full, prior to submitting the final version for examination you may no longer have the right to make your thesis available on open access. You may have signed a publishing agreement that transfers copyright to the publisher or granted the publisher an exclusive licence to publish your thesis., In either situation, you may no longer have the right to make the full text available on open access. You will need to check any author or publishing agreements you have signed very carefully.
Some publishing agreements may allow you to make the thesis available open access as it is not the final published version. So agreements may allow you to make both the thesis and the published work, e.g. the journal article, available. In this case, you may decide to submit copies of the published work separately.
In order to publish your thesis, you will have had to seek permission for any third party copyright material you included in your thesis. You cannot assume that just because the copyright owner gave permission for their copyright material to be published, that this also allows the third party material to be made available on open access. You will need to check the permission granted to see if it allows open access as well. You may need to contact the copyright owner again to seek further permission to cover open access.
Third party copyright material refers to any material in your thesis that you do not create yourself. In order to make your thesis available on open access, you need to either have permission from the creator or copyright owner to use their material on open access or be able to rely on limited provisions in the Copyright Act that allow you to use third party material without permission.
You do not need to seek permission if:
- Copyright in the work has expired.
- You are including an insubstantial portion.
- You have an express licence to use the work, e.g. a contract, web site conditions, Creative Commons material, copyright owner has explicitly waived copyright, etc.
- You are critiquing or review the work and your use is covered under Fair dealing for criticism or review.
- You are parodying or satirising the work and your use is covered under Fair dealing for parody & satire.
Seeking permission is not always a straight forward and easy process. It can be difficult to identify the copyright owner or to find contact information for them. You may also be required to pay permission fees for the use of the material. You are responsible for seeking permission to use any third party copyright material, you have included in your thesis. You need to ensure that any permission you request allows the material to be made available on open access. There is no guarantee that the copyright owner will grant permission for their work to be used. If you are not able to obtain permission for each individual piece of third party copyright material, you will not be able to make your thesis available on open access.
You will also need to seek permission if you intend publishing your thesis.
See Seeking Permission for further information.
If you choose not to make your thesis available on open access then you do not need to seek permission for any third party copyright material in your thesis. A provision in the Copyright Act - Fair dealing for research & study - covers the use of third party material in theses if they are only submitted for assessment and examination. Fair dealing for research & study also allows a print copy of your thesis to be included in the library and will also apply to the digital submission process, so long as only the citation and metadata is displayed.
You should also make sure that you acknowledge all third party copyright material in your thesis with a full bibliographic citation.
Under the digital submission policy, your supervisor can raise an objection if your thesis is being made available on open access. Circumstances when your supervisor may raise an objection include where there is confidential or commercial information that should not be made public or where your thesis includes collaborative research which might be part of a patent application or otherwise not able to made public. In discussing with your supervisor whether or not, open access is the best publishing model for you, this may also be an opportunity for your supervisor to indicate whether or not they support making your thesis available on open access or whether there are reasons why only the citation and metadata should be made available.
Once the thesis has been deposited and if you choose to make it available on open access, the UMER Team will contact your supervisor informing them that your thesis has been deposited and you would like to make it available on open access. The supervisor will at this point be able to raise any objections they may have. Only a citation and abstract will be made available until your supervisor has indicated whether or not they wish to raise an objection. If you wish to make your thesis available on open access and your supervisor does not agree, you can make a case as to why your thesis should be available on open access to MSGR under the University's greviance procedures.
If you chose to only display the citation and metadata, consent from your supervisor is not required. Although the UMER Team will still contact your supervisor to inform them that the thesis has been deposited and the citation and metadata for the thesis is available.
- Overview of Copyright
- Copyright & Your Thesis - Information Guide from the Copyright Office
- Copyright, Your Thesis & Future Publications - Powerpoint slides from the Information Session held 20th May 2009
- Seeking Permission
- UMER Submission of Digital Theses Website
- MSGR Digital Thesis Submission Website