I am about to publish my dissertation via the university library, which is mandatory according to the doctoral regulations of my university.
I have written a total of 4 articles as part of my cumulative dissertation. (My dissertation comprises a general introduction and the 4 articles)
3 of the 4 articles have already been published in journals (closed access).
Now I am unsure about the legal situation regarding licences. Actually, I am not allowed to publish the 3 already published articles independently or make them publicly accessible. However, the publication of all my articles as part of the dissertation is mandatory. I don't really know how I should handle this problem.
I would be very happy to receive an assessment or experience reports as well as relevant examples on the same problem.

Many thanks in advance!

  • 4
    What did your advisor recommend? Nov 4 at 19:25
  • 3
    Check your authorship agreement with the publishers of the articles. It's ubiquitous that publishers provide a license for articles to appear as part of a dissertation or thesis. If it's not explicit in your agreements, contact the publishers directly about the question.
    – user176372
    Nov 4 at 20:30

3 Answers 3


You should do, at a minimum, two things immediately and at the same time:

  • Check the publishing guidelines and permissions for the venues you've published in. Some (many) venues give a blanket permission to re-publish as part of a dissertation, full stop, end of discussion. Those are great. Some may want to know additional details, such as the distribution (e.g., "Five printed copies and electronic archival in the university database") before granting permission. Those are the annoying ones.

  • Check with your advisor to make sure you're not missing something, or what happens if something goes awry in this process. (For instance, your institution might demand that you prove to them that you have republication permissions. Mine did.)

Note: I say you should do these immediately because publishing venues do not, in my experience, respond the next day after your e-mail. There will be a delay. Those delays might rub up against your institution's deadlines.

Do Not Delay.

In addition to your advisor, you may have another resource. My institute was an big R1 University, and the graduate college (separate from the college I worked in) had a few people dedicated to answering questions about this process, and enforcing the university rules (which were, basically, "Document all permissions, include them in the dissertation, and wait for our approval.") If your institution has something like this, you can reach out to them, too.

But again, Do Not Delay. As Buffy says in their answer, this is all likely to work out. But the faster you get to it, the higher that likelihood is.


Since you have given up copyright (most likely) it depends on your publishers of that (those) article. But almost always an author is given an explicit license for some uses and this usually includes permission for use in a dissertation.

Explicitly publishing the dissertation might raise issues. You should probably explore this with the editor(s) of the journal(s). At a minimum you will probably need to acknowledge those prior publishers ("Used with permission of...").

I suspect that it will work out, but you should ask to be sure.


Usually, journals allow published papers to be included as dissertation chapters after some paperwork. I suggest reaching out to the journal editor or associate editor as they can provide journal-specific requirements. Often, the journals provide an online form where you can ask to authorize the reuse of your article for various cases such as the one you mention here.

On the other side: Journals used to be more reluctant to publish dissertations (and thesis as well, which I refer to as dissertations henceforth) if they were already published through the university system. However, the copyright of your dissertation remains with you, the writer. So, journals have been more flexible on this matter nowadays; they allow the publishing of dissertation chapters even after it is online via the university system. Because published journal papers have more weight in academia compared to dissertations. Also, one of the goals of writing a dissertation is to publish in peer-reviewed journals. If journals refuse to publish dissertation, they will miss the opportunities to publish a large number of quality research.

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