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Incorporating Journal Articles

If you have published an article or articles during your academic career, and you wish to include those articles in your thesis or dissertation, you have a number of options. These should be discussed with your committee, and possibly with your publisher. When you have your research published in a conference, book or journal, you usually sign some type of agreement with the publisher.

The agreement should be explicit about what future rights of use you retain. If you want to include the materials in your thesis/dissertation, you must make sure this is clearly spelled out in the publishing agreement. 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 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 your needs, there are a few options to consider. 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 you retain copyright or if the publisher (as copyright holder) gives you a signed release, you can include the publication in your thesis or dissertation as allowed in that release.

This matter may be avoided if your thesis or dissertation talks about your research in a very different way from the published article. That often is the case, 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 or dissertation 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 this as a 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.

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 Consultant can help you with this.