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Incorporating Journal Articles

If a student has published an article or articles during their academic career, and wishes to include those articles in their thesis or dissertation, there are a number of options. These should be discussed with the committee, and possibly with the publisher. Publishing research in a conference, book or journal usually involves a signed agreement with the publisher.

The agreement should be explicit about what future rights of use are retained by the author. To include the materials in a thesis/dissertation, this must be clearly spelled out in the publishing agreement. The author is entitled to discuss such plans with the publisher. We encourage authors to obtain an agreement that allows them to include research in a freely available thesis/dissertation. Most publishers consider a thesis or dissertation to be quite different from a journal article.

Depending upon the agreement with the publishers and the needs of the author, there are a few options to consider. First, one can simply cite that publication in the references. Second, if the publisher has the publication online, one 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 author retains copyright or if the publisher (as copyright holder) gives a signed release, one can include the publication in the thesis or dissertation as allowed in that release.

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

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

In any case, when including a version of previously published material in your thesis or dissertation, please include a publication note detailing the publication information and the way(s) in which the thesis/dissertation material differs from the published material (including crediting any co-authors of the published material). The Coordinator of Student Services can help with this.