On ResearchGate, if you upload something like a thesis, and then it says publish resources, does this mean the thesis becomes properly published in the sense of the usual requirements of journals that there be no prior publication of the submitted work?

I ask because I’m drafting thesis chapters into journal articles and did not choose to publish the thesis as a whole work in order to do so, so I want to make sure that by clicking publish resources I am not actually publishing the copy I’ve uploaded, I’m just making it publicly available? Does this mean it becomes published despite it not technically being a published work? (If so, I’ll just remove the copy I uploaded).

  • 7
    What effect do you envision "publication" has with respect to copyright? My understanding is that creative works become copyrighted as soon as they are written; I'm not aware that publication of any kind is relevant. Mar 24, 2015 at 2:39
  • 8
    I don't think copyright law is your issue. Your thesis is copyrighted whether you put it online or not. Your issue is whether the journal sees the thesis as a form of prior publication that might prevent them from accepting your manuscript. Mar 24, 2015 at 2:40
  • @awsoci: I reworded your question to focus on the issue you are interested in and not to mention copyright anymore. Please check that everything is still according to your intentions.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Mar 24, 2015 at 13:22
  • Note that at least where I am from, PhD thesis have to be published anyway (though many journals have special clauses for this).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Mar 24, 2015 at 13:24

1 Answer 1


The problem is less ResearchGate and more your field. As far as I know, ResearchGate, unlike Academia.edu, does not claim copyright or commercial license for your uploads; and they refer to their upload service as more self-archiving than anything else. That said, different fields and different publishers have different attitudes toward what it means to be prior publications.

In Mathematics (my field), for example, almost certainly no journal will count uploads to pre-print repositories or online social media or your own webpage as prior publication.

In fields like Medicine and some subfield of Biology, the rules are much stricter, where sometimes too-detailed conference posters can count as prior publication when it comes to journal submissions. Wikipedia has a listing which shows, e.g., journals of the American Society for Microbiology having this type of strict pre-publication rule.

So the only general advice for your question is: consult the website of the journal to which you intend to submit your articles.

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