Writing your BSc, MSc or PhD-thesis?
Not sure if you may use this brilliant photo in your thesis? Or who owns the copyright on your thesis or the data? On this page you find answers on these and other theses related copyright questions.
In general, you can consider everything that has a creative aspect in it (e.g. a picture, a cartoon, a drawing, a photograph, an infographic etc.) as copyright protected, even if this picture is freely available on the internet. Pictures found on the internet are generally also copyright protected. This means that if there is no applicable statutory limitation, you need to ask for permission to the copyright owner see question: What is copyright and what is protected? on the page General Information. One of the statutory limitations is the right to cite. You may use small parts of the work without approval as long as you do this to illustrate a proposition, to defend and opinion, or to criticize or review another’s work. In order words, using the picture without asking for permission is only allowed when the picture adds something to your work. If you want to use the picture for decoration (e.g. on the front cover), you do need to ask permission to do so to the copyright owner see question: How do I cite and reference correctly on the page Citing & plagiarism.
Tip: find a picture with a license (e.g. a Creative Commons License), that allows you to use this picture in your work without permission see question: What is a Creative Commons License? on the page Ownership & licenses. Find more information on finding pictures with a license on this page.
The student owns copyright to his/her MSc/BSc thesis. The student who creates his/her MSc/BSc thesis (i.e., who writes the thesis and in that process makes the creative choices leading to the final wording of the thesis) owns the copyright on the work. Accordingly, copyright in the thesis is vested in the student who creates the thesis. This also applies to other student work products (essays, papers, reports, etc.). See Student Charter for more information.
In some cases, a thesis is fully or partially created in the course of a commissioned study assignment or in the course of an internship. In that case, the student may agree upon an alternative ownership. If no agreement is reached, the student owns the copyright on the thesis. Moreover, if no agreement is reached, the thesis research, in some cases, cannot take place (see Open Access Thesis Policy). For advice regarding such contractual arrangements, the student may contact the legal department of the science group where they study.
When the PhD candidate is employed by Wageningen University or by Stichting Wageningen Research, copyright on the thesis is vested in WUR. If the PhD candidate is not employed by WUR, and the copyright is not fully or partially transferred to his/her employer or to a third party, the PhD candidate owns the copyright on his/her thesis. If chatpers in the PhD thesis are co-authored, all co-authors of those chapters own the copyright. If these authors are employed at WUR, the copyright of these chapters is vested in WUR.
Is some cases, the PhD candidate is requested to transfer copyright to the commissioner of a PhD research project or to a publisher in the case of scientific publications. For advice regarding such contractual agreements, contact the legal department of the Science Group where the research is conducted.
WUR owns copyright on protected datasets created by its employees.
Unstructured, ‘raw’ datasets (e.g., databases filled with factual measurement data) are not subject to ownership and therefore not protected by copyright. If creative choices are made in selecting materials in the dataset and/or in structuring the dataset, all or part of the dataset may be subject to copyright protection. Since works created in connection with employment are owned by the employer, copyright pertaining to protected research data generated by WUR and its employees is vested in WUR. Please note that WUR’s Research Data Policy requires employed researchers includes to treat all research data as “confidential”, until an explicit exception is made.
For further information, see Research Data.
If you are not an employee of WUR, WUR does not own copyright on the (protected) research data you create during your PhD research. If you are hired by an external organization as a PhD-candidate, you should first check the arrangements you have made with the organization that hired you. If no arrangements are made, you are in principle the owner of any copyright protected datasets.
Unstructured, ‘raw’ datasets (e.g., databases filled with factual measurement data) are not subject to ownership and therefore not protected by copyright. If creative choices are made in selecting materials in the dataset and/or in structuring the dataset, all or part of the dataset may be subject to copyright protection. Since works created in connection with employment are owned by the employer, copyright pertaining to protected research data generated by WUR and its employees is vested in WUR.
If you submit manuscripts (chapters of your PhD-thesis) to a journal after your thesis has been submitted and made publicly available through Wageningen University & Research PhD theses, explain to the publisher that the manuscript is based on thesis work. You can do this either in your submission e-mail or within the acknowledgement section of your article.
If you do not explain beforehand that the manuscript is based on thesis work, you may receive an e-mail from the publisher that your manuscript cannot be accepted because of plagiarism. In this case, contact the publisher and explain your situation. If you need help, please contact the legal officers of your science group.
Another option is to place an embargo on our thesis before you submit it by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request an embargo. During the 1-year embargo, your thesis will not be available online and will not appear in plagiarism-detection software. You may also extend the embargo if needed.
WUR intends to make publicly available all master theses that receive a final grade of 6 or higher. They should be placed in MSc thesis online. In some cases, WUR may not make a thesis publicly available even though it has a final grade of 6 or higher. If this occurs, the thesis assessment form should explain why the thesis is not publicly available and how long it should not be publicly available.
The thesis agreement or the thesis assessment form should state that the thesis should or should not be made available open access in the WUR repository. WUR is currently revising its policy for publishing MSc theses.
Last updated on 15/04/2021.