U.S. copyright law is complex. Details of the law, including an explanation of “fair use,” may be found at  “Fair use” is a legal defense and does not grant students the right, even for educational or research purposes, to use other researchers’/authors’ text, images, tables, figures, etc. without obtaining the appropriate permission.  It may be advisable to obtain permission early, or to avoid using material with uncertain/questionable copyright. Students are responsible for obtaining and providing proof of permission to use copyrighted material to the Thesis Office. Table 1.1 provides a general guideline for determining if material is likely to be copyrighted based on age, authorship, and publication status.

Students preparing theses and dissertations must be aware of how to protect their own works and how to avoid infringing upon the works of others. Protection of one’s own work is accomplished through placement of a copyright notice and/or registration of copyright.

Some materials that require permission:

  • Long Quotations: Quotations from published material or another student’s thesis/dissertation, research, etc. that is over one and on-half single-spaced pages.
  • Reproduced Publications: Any material, including journal articles, figures, tables, survey instruments, and questionnaires, that has been published requires permission even if the student is the original creator of these works as copyright is usually transferred in order to publish.

Table 1.1
Copyright guideline.  Adapted from “Copyright Law and Graduate Research: New Media, New Rights, and Your New Dissertation.” Kenneth D. Crews, Columbia University, © copyright 2000, ProQuest).

Creation / Publication General Rule of Copyright Duration
Created in or after 1978 by a named author acting in an individual capacity, whether published or not. Life of the author, plus 70 years.
Created in or after 1978 by an anonymous or pseudonymous author, or by a corporate author, or a work-made-for-hire. The earlier of either 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation.
Created before 1978, but not published. The latter of either 70 years after the death of the author, or through December 31, 2002.  The expiration date is extended through December 31, 2047, if the copyright owner publishes the work before the end of 2002.
Published after 1992 and before 1978 with copyright notice and renewed if required. 95 years from the date of original publication.
Created and published before 1923. Copyright has expired.

Note: Crews’ book can viewed and/or downloaded (for free) in its entirety at:

  • Internet Sources: Material found on the Internet is no different than material from a book, journal, or other publication. Easy access and wide availability does not nullify copyright.

Notice of Copyright
Copyright protection is obtained by placing notice of copyright on the thesis or dissertation.

Copyright © Your Name (as it appears on the Title Page) 2014

All Rights Reserved

Registration of Copyright
Registration is not required, but it does place details of a copyright claim on public record. Registration is accomplished by filing federal form TX with the U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington DC 20559, or having ProQuest/UMI register the claim.

Registration of copyright allows the owner to qualify for an award of statutory damages in cases of infringement. Otherwise, a copyright owner will be awarded actual damages only.

Avoiding Infringement
“Permission to Quote Copyrighted Material” and “Multiple Author Release” forms are available on The Graduate School website under “Thesis and Dissertation Forms.” Obtaining permission to quote copyrighted material is federal law. Students are required to obtain written permission (hard copy, facsimile, or electronic signature) for any figure or table in its entirety, any poem or musical composition, words or music of popular songs, questionnaires, prose beyond the amount defined as “fair use,” etc.

Students must use the credit line specified by the copyright owner and place it where required by the owner.

All sources must be cited whenever use is made of the material of others, even if the use is limited and no copyright permission is necessary. Direct use of the work of others without citing the source is plagiarism.

Use of Journal Articles in Theses or Dissertations

Obtaining Approval
If students wish to use articles accepted or published by reputable scholarly journals in a thesis or dissertation or to type the thesis or dissertation in the style of a particular journal for subsequent submission, they must first obtain the recommendation and approval of the supervisory committee. If the journal is not on the list of department-approved journals and manuals of style on The Graduate School website, the chair of the department or the director of graduate studies must notify the thesis editor of departmental approval of the journal, and the student must submit a sample of the journal and/or journal guidelines.

Use of Previously Published Material
Appendix B outlines the procedures for the incorporation of previously published, accepted, and submitted articles as chapters of a thesis or dissertation.

A thesis or dissertation containing one or more articles published by a scholarly journal must meet all format specifications outlined in this handbook. Previously published articles are treated as separate chapters (or titled sections). They may be combined in a manuscript with chapters that have not been previously published. Reprints of previously published articles used in theses and dissertations must meet University margin requirements. Pages of reprints must still be numbered in sequence with the rest of the manuscript.

More than one reprint may be used in the thesis or dissertation if the specifications noted above are met and the supervisory committee considers the subject materials to be related. One reprint may be used as all of the thesis or dissertation if the specifications noted above are met.

The title of the thesis or dissertation must reflect the entire work. There must be an abstract summarizing the entire work, even though individual chapters may have abstracts. Citation and reference style may vary for published chapters.

Any use of previously published material requires that permission to quote copyrighted material be obtained from the copyright owner(s) and filed in the Thesis Office. Multiple author release(s), if required, must also be filed.

Use of Material Accepted for Publication
An article or articles that are accepted by journals but have not yet been published may be used as part of a thesis or dissertation. Articles/chapters that have been submitted or accepted for publication but are not yet published must follow the formatting as demonstrated and described in this handbook. Running heads (i.e., an abbreviated title of the manuscript often with the author’s last name printed in the upper margin of each page) may not be used, and tables and figures must be referred to by number in the text and placed after their first reference.

Property Rights

Publication rights (copyright) are reserved by the author, subject to the provisions of research contracts, patent rights, or other agreements made by the author with the University.