Ethical issues and copyright

Ethics issues and copyright considerations will be important to manage as you work through your thesis or dissertation. You should review the following information and links as you plan your research and before you begin the writing process.

Research ethics

Information on conducting your research is available through the UVic Research website. Users are required to log in using their Netlink ID and password to access individual pages.

The UVic Research website also includes information on the use of animals in research and links to forms and guidelines, policies, animal care committee meetings, standard operating procedures and frequently asked questions.

The human research ethics board (HREB) ensures that UVic research and research occurring in academic courses involving human participants or human biological materials meets the ethical standards required by Canadian universities and national regulatory bodies.

If you have any questions, including whether a regulatory approval is required, please contact the research ethics staff listed:

  • Human research ethics assistant: 250-472-4545 or
  • Animal research ethics assistant: 250-853-3187 or
  • Occupational Health, Safety and Environment general office (other safety approvals): 250-721-6359 or

Intellectual property

Consult the UVic Research website for information on intellectual property and how it is handled at UVic. You can also review the guide to intellectual property produced by the Canadian Association of Graduate Students for more information on intellectual property considerations.


Both the University of Victoria Partial Copyright License form and the Non- Exclusive License to Reproduce Theses form from the library and Archives Canada must be completed by all candidates. These are included in the online UVicSpace thesis/dissertation submission process.

Students may choose to engage the services of ProQuest; this is at the discretion of the student and is no longer part of a contract between UVic and ProQuest.ProQuest non-exclusive distribution license - English

Copyright and distribution/submission

To place an items into UVicSpace, you must have the right to distribute it (own the full copyright) or have the permission from the copyright holder (typically a publisher if you don't own it yourself). Many publishers allow one or more versions of an author's work to be placed into institutional repositories like UVicSpace. These versions, described below, depend on a publisher's policies:

  1. Pre-print: the author's version of the paper before peer review;
  2. Post-print: the author's version of the paper after peer review, with revisions made; and
  3. Publisher's version: the formatted version from the publisher, identical to what is produced in their print journal or found in a subscription database.

Inclusion of copyrighted material in theses or dissertations

When you deposit an article, publishers may require you to include a block of copyright text or a link to their website. There are sections to cut-and-paste this information when you deposit a work in UVicSpace. Publishers may also have an embargo period, wherein you are barred from archiving an article until a certain period of time after publication (6 months, 12 months, etc.). Unless the policy says otherwise, fulfilling the publisher conditions is all you need to do to "clear copyright" and have permission. If you follow the guidelines in the policy on inclusion of copyrighted material below, you will not need to contact the publisher to submit to UVicSpace.

Policy on inclusion of copyrighted material

The following is for the general information of candidates who are engaged upon, or who are about to embark upon, research and preparation of a dissertation or thesis for a graduate degree in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Victoria. It is, however, emphasized that it is not to be interpreted as legal advice. Neither the faculty nor the university (including any faculty or staff member) can, or does, give legal advice to candidates. If legal advice is desired or required, candidates should retain the services of a solicitor.

Copyright is frequently confused with plagiarism. They are quite different. Plagiarism is the taking of the ideas, works or depictions of another and representing them or passing them off as your own. To avoid plagiarism, the source of the ideas, words or depictions must be acknowledged and proper credit given. However, any such acknowledgment does not negate a breach of copyright, which occurs upon the reproduction of the work, whether or not it is accompanied by an acknowledgment.

Copyright is breached when any person other than the owner of the copyright (or in the case of moral rights, other than the author) does anything that violates the rights of the owner (or author). Most candidates in the Faculty of Graduate Studies will be primarily concerned with the owner’s right to control reproduction of the whole work or a substantial part of the work. The reference to “substantial” has both quantitative and qualitative features. Usually the qualitative feature is the most significant feature because it contains a key, crucial or attractive portion of the work. Indeed, the fact that someone wishes to reproduce it suggests that it is of some qualitative value. Beyond this there is little guidance as to what constitutes substantiality in qualitative terms. Similarly there is little guidance as to what quantitatively is a substantial amount. In an attempt to give a practical guideline, the Faculty of Graduate Studies recommends that:

  1. At a minimum, when more than one full page or 10% of a work is reproduced in a thesis or dissertation by quotation or otherwise, the candidate should attempt to obtain a copyright clearance or consent from the owner of that work. This is not to say that a violation of copyright cannot occur within these limits.
  2. Copyright clearances or consents should be obtained by the candidate for the reproduction of the whole of any map, diagram, chart, drawing, survey, questionnaire, computer code, painting, photograph, or poem in any thesis or dissertation. Care must be given that attribution is to the actual creator of the work.
  3. No work of any nature should be reproduced in any thesis or dissertation in any distorted or modified format without both a copyright clearance from the owner and a waiver of moral rights from the author.

Works that have been published for over 50 years from the death of the author are in the public domain and need not be dealt with in the restricted manner described above. However, care must be exercised when dealing with works reprinted in modern editions. If it appears that those modern editions contain additional editorial work or rearrangement of the original work (for instance, the inclusion of modern stage directions or added musical arrangements), those additions may be sufficiently substantial to be the subject of an independent copyright which may not have expired.

Where it is necessary to include "the whole" or "a substantial part" of a copyrighted item, the student is advised to apply to the owner of the copyright for permission. This action may involve considerable time and should be done well in advance of the submission of the thesis/dissertation.  A letter of permission must recognize your right as the author of the thesis/dissertation to have it reproduced through the library and Archives Canada and its agents.

When you can't obtain permission or there is a charge for obtaining permission, you must either:

  • remove the copyright material and insert some text with the following information

- A statement that the material has been removed because of copyright restrictions

- A description of the material and the information it contained, with a link to an onlne source if one is available

- A full citation of the original source of the material.

  • replace the material with a different work for which permission is either obtainable or not required (e.g., work is in the public domain or is covered by a Creative Commons license).


The UVic Libraries website provides an overview of plagiarism with descriptions of the different types of plagiarism.

Editing of Graduate Work

You are encouraged to review the University's Policy on Academic Integrity.  The information below is an excerpt from the policy on the Unauthorized Use of an Editor.

Editing of graduate work

It is a graduate student’s responsibility to demonstrate the ability to write and express ideas in written English in a clear and coherent manner; this is particularly pertinent in the case of a graduate thesis, dissertation, or final project or essay.  Although the student’s supervisor and supervisory committee are expected to provide appropriate guidance, students are responsible for both the form and content of their own work, including demonstrated knowledge and use of proper citation of sources.

Graduate students must attain written permission of the supervisor before using any editorial assistance for their thesis, dissertation, or final project or essay.

Unauthorized Use of an Editor

An editor is an individual or service, other than the instructor or supervisory committee, who manipulates, revises, corrects or alters a student’s written or non-written work.

The use of an editor, whether paid or unpaid, is prohibited unless the instructor grants explicit written authorization. The instructor should specify the extent of editing that is being authorized. Review by fellow students and tutoring that do not include editing are normally permitted. In addition to consulting with their instructors, students are encouraged to seek review of and feedback on their work that prompts them to evaluate the work and make changes themselves.

These guidelines apply equally to graduate student work, including course assignments, papers, research reports and projects, candidacy examinations, extended essays, creative projects, theses and dissertations (and all associated drafts) and all other academic materials that are submitted for evaluation as work contributing to the requirements of the student’s graduate degree.

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