Open access: Copyright

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Some recently asked questions:

  • Do I always have to acknowledge material I have copied or modified?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring all necessary clearances have been obtained to make my research publicly available through the University's online research repository?
  • When don't I need to seek permission to reproduce an image in my thesis?
  • How can I protect my ideas?
  • Who owns copyright in research I submit to the University's online research repository?
  • Are there any guidelines on the number of words I can include in a quote without the need to seek permission?

Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons logo, Source: (




Creative Commons licences allow creative works under copyright to be shared and re-used.

Creators retain copyright and can choose how their work is copied, distributed and re-used and creators must be credited for their work if re-use occurs.

There are six different licences with varying restrictions on use – some allow commercial use, whilst others restrict to non-commercial use.

Why is copyright important?

As the author of a work, you hold the copyright unless or until you transfer your copyright to someone else in a signed agreement.

Copyright owners have a number of exclusive rights, including:

  • the right to publish their work
  • the right to reproduce their work (for example, by copying or scanning)
  • the right to communicate their work to the public (for example, by making it available online, by emailing it or by faxing it)

Retaining your rights

A publisher requires only your permission to publish your paper, not the wholesale transfer of your rights as author.

Therefore, before you sign, scrutinise your Agreement and consider:

  • the rights you want to retain
  • the ways you want to use and develop your own work without restriction
  • how to increase access to your work for educational and research purposes
  • your right to be properly attributed when your work is used
  • your right to deposit your work in an online archive or repository
  • your publisher's right for a non-exclusive licence to publish and distribute your work for a financial return
  • your publisher's right to be properly attributed and cited
  • your publisher's right to migrate your work to future formats and include it in collections.

Publishing from your thesis

Before you publish, it is important that you consider carefully the advantages and disadvantages of the different publishing models which might be available to you. These include but are are not limited to:

  • Open access (OA)
  • Publishing with a traditional academic publisher
  • Self-publishing

Open Access

At UniSA it is mandatory that you deposit a digital copy of your thesis in the Research Outputs Repository, in accordance with Clause 21 of Academic Regulations for Higher Degrees by Research. Here your thesis will be made available under an open access publishing model for readers to download, print, and save electronically for their own personal and non-commercial use with copyright remaining with you, the author. The regulations also allow you to restrict access to your thesis for 2 years with the approval of the Research Degrees Committee. Exposing your research to the world under this model has a number of advantages including:

  • Increased citation of your work
  • Enhanced research impact
  • Enhanced reputation
  • Your work can be accessed by the broader community

Traditional academic publishers

Traditional commercial book and journal publishers will often only publish material which has not been made available to the public, known as the 'the right of first publication'. If you publish journals articles during the course of writing your thesis and you want to include these in your thesis, you will need to seek agreement from the publisher to do this. If you want to publish your thesis after completion with a reputable publisher, you need to consider the potential implications of signing over your copyright or providing the publisher with an exclusive licence to publish.


You may wish to make your thesis available on your own webpage or that of your employer. This is self publishing, where you are responsible for editing, designing, marketing and distributing your own work. This is in addition to depositing a copy in the Research Outputs Repository.