Dissertations and Theses

When you prepare your dissertation/thesis, you are both an author and copyright holder of the original work as well as a user of other people's copyrighted works.

When you use other people's works or incorporate third party content into your work, your use must be authorized under the fair use exception or permission has been granted for the use.

Purdue graduate students are required to submit their dissertation to the Graduate School’s open access repository called HammerRR. Unless the author of the dissertation chooses to have an embargo, then the dissertation is publically and freely available to the world. It is important that any content not created by the author of the dissertation which is known as “third party content” is used in accordance with the fair use exception or with permission from the copyright holder.

For more information on thesis/dissertation requirements at Purdue, please contact the Graduate School Thesis/Dissertation Office.

Copyright Considerations for Dissertations and Theses


A chapter in your dissertation been previously published as a journal article.


Check the author agreement that you signed with the publisher to determine if you transferred your copyright to the publisher in exchange for having your article published. If you did, then you will need to contact the publisher to request permission to reproduce the article in your dissertation.

Hot Tip: Check the agreement to see if the publisher specified that you can use the article in your dissertation. There are some publishers that will specifically authorize that use in their author agreements.


There are third party images included in your dissertation.


If you determine that the use is not fair use then send a request in writing to the copyright holder to ask for permission to use the image in your dissertation.

Hot Tip: Use works that are in the public domain or find images that have Creative Commons licenses that would allow your use.