The electronic thesis and disseration (ETD) process provides a unique opportunity for you to learn more about electronic publishing; there are important copyright issues to keep in mind. The skills acquired in doing an ETD will serve you well as you continue to produce works of scholarship, more so if you choose to remain in higher education. We encourage you to start learning about copyright and publishing issues in the process of preparing/submitting your ETD.

Using Third Party Content?

Does your thesis contain third party copyrighted work? For example, text, figures, maps, images, questionnaires, photos, etc.

Does your thesis contain your own previously published materials (e.g., journal article) for which you no longer retain the rights?

Does your thesis include material (e.g., a chapter, an article) that was co-written with another author(s)?

Does your thesis exceed fair dealing? (For help with fair dealing, please consult the University of Toronto Fair Dealing guidelines or contact the Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office at

If your thesis contains third party content that exceeds fair dealing, you may need to secure permission to reproduce the material.

Securing Permission from Copyright Holders

Securing copyright permission may take time. We recommend seeking any needed permissions early in the thesis preparation process. Some publishers provide (on their website or in the material given to you when your article was accepted) a policy statement granting permission to publish your work in a thesis.

Sherpa Romeo website helps you determinine publishers’ polices.

Rightslink helps you secure copyright permission.

If you need to request permission, we suggest that you refer to, or use, the wording of the copyright permission request sample text below. An original, signed letter on the copyright holder’s letterhead is your best protection against accusations of copyright violation, but email proof of permission from publishers or co-authors is acceptable. Keep copies of all documents for your own records.

Copyright Permission Request—Sample Text


Re: Permission to Use Copyrighted Material in a Doctoral/Master’s Thesis


I am a University of Toronto graduate student completing my Doctoral / Master’s thesis entitled “____***_____”.

My thesis will be available in full text on the internet for reference, study and / or copy. Except in situations where a thesis is under embargo or restriction, the electronic version will be accessible through the U of T Libraries web pages, the Library’s web catalogue, and also through web search engines. I will also be granting Library and Archives Canada and ProQuest a non-exclusive license to reproduce, loan, distribute, or sell single copies of my thesis by any means and in any form or format. These rights will in no way restrict re-publication of the material in any other form by you or by others authorized by you.

I would like permission to allow inclusion of the following material in my thesis: [insert copy or detailed explanation including the title of the article or book, the figure or page numbers of the material used, the journal name, year, volume number or unique publication identifier, the publisher and year]. The material will be attributed through a citation.

Please confirm in writing or by email that these arrangements meet with your approval.


Your Name and Signature

Cite Your Sources

Any copyrighted material used in your thesis, including photos, pictures, charts, graphs, maps, etc. should receive full citation. Each citation should clearly indicate the source of the copyrighted material. When the material is used with permission, you should indicate that permission has been granted.

What if Permission is Denied or Unavailable?

Occasionally, permission to use copyrighted material cannot be secured, or is denied. Do not reproduce copyrighted material in your thesis beyond what is allowed by fair dealing without permission. Remove the copyrighted material. You will proceed differently according to the nature of the material.

For example, in the case of an image of an artifact or artwork, you may include a description of what is missing, a full citation of the source of the material, and where it can be found. Include an explanation that the material has been removed because of copyright restrictions.

In the case of a thesis chapter that was previously published as a journal article, you should include in place of the chapter an abstract of the chapter content and a link to the journal website where the original article can be read.

Quick​ Copyright Links

Copyright Policy of the University of Toronto​

Inventions Policy of the University of Toronto​

University of Toronto Fair Dealing Guidelines​

University of Toronto Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office

Canada Copyright Act​

Library and Archives Canada

Canadian Intellectual Property Office

Use the following databases to find the policies of academic journals on using your published papers in a thesis:

Sherpa Romeo​​