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Copyright, How-To-Guide

As a knowledge creator, you are adding important information to an existing body of research. This page will provide you with general guidance on how copyright law encourages research by allowing the use of copyright exceptions and how your scholarly work can be shared with others. 

Copyright and research

Using someone else's research.

Fair Dealing is the exception that allows you to use another author's research within your own. You may quote another author, use diagrams and images, and summarise or paraphrase their work, as long as the amount used is fair. 

According to the wording of Fair Dealing’s legislation:

“Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purposes of research for a non-commercial purpose does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.”

Which is why we always need to reference our sources!

This exception covers uses such as the inclusion of third-party content in theses deposited in institutional repositories.

However, Fair Dealing may not cover the use of certain databases or datasets. To utilize this material, you may need to get permission from the copyright holder. Sometimes this information will be open source and you will simply need to provide an acknowledgement. 

Also be aware that when you get to the point of commercially publishing your work, all third-party content needs to be cleared--which often involves getting permission from the author to use their work. Third-party content includes things like significant quotations, images, and diagrams. You can contact the library for further assistance in clearing content for publishing. 

Your Thesis

Who owns copyright of your work?

Any scholarly research outputs made by you, meaning data, thesis or dissertations, are automatically covered by copyright. And you as the author are the copyright owner of that work. 

Your thesis or dissertation will remain completely and solely your copyright unless you:

  • Assign your rights. That is, you give them away to someone else. This is common with publishers. Many authors will assign their final edited version to the publisher so that they can publish the work in journals or books.
  • Or you can license you work. You may even be able to license an early version of your work and assign the rights of an edited version to a publisher. 
Other important exceptions:

If you are a research student, you assign your rights of Intellectual Property (IP) arising from your studies to the university for anything that is not considered a "scholarly work". That means that if you are a mechanical engineering student and you create some wonderful wigit as part of your studies, LSBU owns the IP for that wigit, you don’t. Or if you make a piece of software, the university will have copyright in that software, you will not. 

This is the case unless the university has entered into an agreement whereby all or a portion of the rights are owned by an external sponsor. So if you are being sponsored to do your research, it will be your sponsor that will have a share of the IP.

licensing your work

Assigning non-exclusive licenses to your work.

A creative commons license might be the right option for you if you want to allow others to copy, distribute, or alter your work, while retaining copyright. Such non-exclusive licenses protect your work while making sure that society benefits from your knowledge and expression of that knowledge. You can assign a Creative Commons License to your work simply by going to the Creative Commons website and following the steps on their page. There are 6 licenses to choose from.

  • The basic licence (BY) just covers attribution to the original creator when the content is used and shared.
  • The other five licenses are combinations of the basic license and:
  • NonCommercial (NC), which prohibits commercial use of the work;
  • NoDerivatives (ND), which permits reuse provided the work is not modified;
  • ShareAlike (SA), which requires modified works be released under the same license.
  • Public Domain, which gives people the right to use the work without any restrictions or attribution.

Publishing and the REF

REF acceptance.

If you would like your work to be eligible for the REF, it will need to have been deposited in an institutional or public repository.

This means that if you decide to publish your work, you need to check something like Sherpa/Romeo or Sherpa REF to make sure that your chosen publisher is REF compliant—as you will need to have your work archived within 3 months of acceptance from a publisher.

What is Sherpa/RoMEO or Sherpa REF?

Sherpa/RoMEO and Sherpa REF are searchable databases of publisher's policies regarding the self- archiving of journal articles on the web and in Open Access repositories.

For more information, check out the LSBU Open Access guide.

Archival material

Using archives in research.

The archivist at LSBU will be able to provide guidance on what is and isn't still in copyright, what you can do with archival works in your research, and how to go about clearing rights if needed. 

For more information, check out the LSBU Archives page or send an email to