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Ethical issues & copyright

You’ll need to consider ethics issues and copyright as you work through your thesis or dissertation. 

Research ethics

You’ll need regulatory approval before beginning your research if your research involves human participants, animals, or if you will be using research materials that require biosafety, radiation safety, hazardous materials or diving registration.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) is the result of intellectual or artistic activity

UVic’s Policy on Intellectual Property governs copyright ownership and use of works created at UVic.

The Office of Research Services can help if you have questions.


It’s important that you understand what counts as plagiarism at UVic. The UVic Libraries website provides an overview of plagiarism with descriptions of the different types.

If the thesis includes reproductions of copyright protected images, including but not limited to figures, drawings, paintings, photographs, logos, maps, diagrams, tables/charts, the author of the thesis must in most cases obtain written authorization from the copyright holder in order to reproduce this material for inclusion in the thesis.

To include items in your thesis or dissertation, you must either:

  • have the right to distribute it (own the full copyright)
  • have permission from the copyright holder (usually a publisher) if you don't own it yourself

If fair dealing applies, the material is usable under a Creative Commons or similar license or the material is not protected by copyright. Permission may not be necessary, but documentation of the exception may be required.

Inclusion of your previously published material in theses or dissertations

Publishers may require you to include a block of copyright text or a link to their website when you include your previously published article. Check the publication agreement or publisher’s policy to determine which version of the article you can include in your work:

  • Post-print: the version of the paper after peer review, with revisions made.
  • Publisher's version: the formatted version from the publisher, identical to the one in their print journal or subscription database.

Publishers may also have an embargo period. In this period, you will need to request to withhold your thesis or dissertation until a certain period of time after the publication of your article (six months, 12 months, etc.).

Unless the policy says otherwise, meeting these conditions means you "clear copyright" and have permission. If you follow the guidelines on inclusion of copyrighted material above, you won’t need to contact a publisher before you submit to UVicSpace.

Review UVic’s policy on inclusion of copyrighted material.

Editing of graduate work

It’s your responsibility to express your ideas in written English in a clear and coherent manner. 

You must receive written permission from your supervisor before using an editor. This is particularly important for your thesis, dissertation, or final project or essay.

Review the unauthorized use of an editor section of our policy on academic integrity. .