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Copyright Information

It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of and adhere to U.S. copyright laws regarding the thesis and its contents.

If you publish material that will be part of your thesis, dissertation, or record of study before you submit the final document (TAMU policy):

The TAMU policy is that graduate students may publish material that will later be used as part of the thesis, dissertation, or record of study. However, students must be aware of the agreement they sign when a journal accepts an article for publication. TAMU Libraries eventually will release all manuscripts for public access. Do not sign any agreement that restricts TAMU’s right to provide research results to the public.


If you are using your already published material in the thesis or dissertation (journal policies):

Students should be aware of the publishing agreement they sign when a journal accepts an article for publication. The corresponding author typically transfers copyright to the journal as publisher and may no longer possess the right to use this material without permission.

The publishing agreement form can be modified before it is signed so that the student retains the right to include the material in the thesis, dissertation, or record of study. The publisher would still have the rights it needs to print, distribute, and sell the work.

When negotiating with the publisher, remember to inform them that the thesis, dissertation, or record of study will be available online. Dissertations and records of study will be sent to ProQuest/UMI and can be purchased through them. TAMU does not consider the posting of dissertations in the ProQuest/UMI repository a commercial venture.

If you have not retained the right to use your previously published material in the document, you must get permission from the copyright holder to include it. A written statement of permission (email is accepted) should be provided to Thesis and Dissertation Services. The Permission to Use Copyright Material document offers more information. If the journal retains the right to an article and does not allow its exact reproduction in your thesis, dissertation, or record of study, we recommend that you contact them to ascertain whether a preprint version is acceptable, or whether you can revise or reword the printed version.

Regardless of which rights students retain, Thesis and Dissertation Services will require written documentation as evidence they have appropriate rights to include the pre-published material. This evidence might be a copy of the publication agreement, website documentation about author retained rights, emails, or other forms of written permission from the publisher.


If you are planning to use your thesis or dissertation material in a future publication

If you plan to publish any thesis, dissertation, or record of study material after graduation, investigate whether the journal of choice will publish material already made available to the public. Some journals insist on being first publisher. You have the option to restrict full-text access to your thesis or dissertation for two years before releasing it to the public through the Texas A&M University Libraries’ digital repository. See the Thesis, Dissertation, and Record of Study Copyright and Availability Form for more information on your manuscript embargo options.


If you plan to include others’ copyrighted material in the thesis or dissertation:

If the manuscript contains any material (e.g., figures, tables, text) from copyrighted sources, you must determine if permission from the copyright holder is needed. There are numerous factors to consider, including whether the material is in the public domain or can be used under the provisions of Fair Use. Regardless of whether permission is required, proper credit must be given in the text. For material requiring permission, acknowledgment should be included in the text per the copyright holder’s instruction or as noted in the Permission to Use Copyright Material document. An extra copy of the letter (or an email) must be provided to Thesis and Dissertation Services. For additional information regarding copyright and fair use, refer to Texas A&M University Libraries Copyright Resources LibGuide.


Registering Copyright

Your manuscript is automatically protected under U.S. copyright as soon as it is finalized into a fixed form. Master’s and doctoral candidates may wish to take additional steps to register their copyright through the U.S. Copyright Office. Although it is not required, there are benefits to registering your copyright, including additional legal remedies if someone infringes upon your work.


Creative Common License

Students may wish to include a Creative Commons license in the same location as the copyright notice. Creative Commons licenses allow the author to retain copyright, while authorizing specific uses of the work to others. More information about Creative Commons licenses can be found on their website.


To summarize, if using published material:

  • Determine if the material is copyrighted. Non-copyrighted material may be reused freely if credit is given to the original source.
  • If the material is copyrighted, determine if it may be included in your document under the provisions of Fair Use. If Fair Use applies, do not seek permission.
  • If Fair Use does not apply, obtain permission (in either the publisher agreement or in a letter or email from the copyright holder).
  • Give proper acknowledgment and citation of all work included in the thesis, dissertation, or record of study. 
  • Provide Thesis and Dissertation Services with a copy of the permission letter or email (or publisher agreement form).
  • Doctoral students must inform the copyright holder that the dissertation will be sent to, and sold on demand by, ProQuest/UMI.

For additional information, see Texas A&M University Libraries Copyright Resources LibGuide. Contact Thesis and Dissertation Services at thesis@tamu.edu.

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