First of all, I am from Europe. At my university are hardly any regulations of the form of my PhD thesis, especially nothing that concerns the following question:

I published a paper as a first author together with my supervisor. I have rewritten my work of the paper, the structure, each sentence, and all images, because I didn't want to give a Journal the copyright of a part of my PhD thesis. However, the original methods and ideas are still the same. Currently, this rewritten paper is one chapter of my dissertation and I have not cited the paper.

Would you recommend to let the reader know that the ideas of this chapter have been published in a journal?

Edit: Thank you for the answer, here are some remarks that didn't fit in the comment section:

  1. I asked the journal, they responded:

    Permission is granted for you to use the material requested for your thesis/dissertation subject to the usual acknowledgements and on the understanding that you will reapply for permission if you wish to distribute or publish your thesis/dissertation commercially. You must also duplicate the copyright notice that appears in the Wiley publication in your use of the Material.

    However, I didn't want to duplicate the copyright notice of the journal in my thesis.

  2. I will now mention that the chapter is based on the publication. I thought its fine to not cite yourself, because it was mentioned in the first comment of the question How to reuse complete paper for my thesis? that it is common in UK to rewrite the article so heavily that citation is not needed anymore.

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    @Alexandros I have published an article in a journal and the journal clearly has the copyrights for it. If I would only copy/past the article in my thesis and add a copyright note, then the journal would have a copyright of a part of my PhD thesis. As a result, I could not publish my dissertation commercially withouth further request. Could you explain to me why you think I did not understand "AT ALL" how this works?
    – Adam
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 17:40
  • 1
    ... in many disciplines, this academia.stackexchange.com/questions/149/… is the norm for a PhD thesis.
    – Alexandros
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 17:49
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    @Alexandros I find your comments offensive and not helpful, therefore I will not respond to any further comments from you. I have completely changed everything of the paper, but the idea/proof is of course the same, I think that now the journal does not have the copyrights any longer. I do not plan to publish my dissertation commercially, this was just an example. However, this example is not unusual - because one has to distribute the dissertation at my university, either online as pdf or as a book. The second option would be commercially.
    – Adam
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 17:55
  • I deleted the comment you found offensive. I have provided you the necessary links to the correct information about inclusion of articles in PhD theses. See also this: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/1897/…
    – Alexandros
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 18:03

2 Answers 2


because I didnt want to give a Journal the copyright of a part of my PhD thesis

Have you checked the copyright agreement? Various academic publishers explicitly make an exception of their exclusive right of publication of the material (although graphics might be a different question) for the author's educational theses.

Would you recommend to let the reader know that the ideas of this chapter have been published in a journal?

Yes, this is absolutely required. Otherwise, you are committing self-plagiarism, which is considered a form of academic fraud. This could have severe repercussions during your later career. The reason is that if no citation is given for something non-trivial and substantial, the reader will assume it is new and has not ever been published before it appeared in your thesis.

A good idea to handle this is to add a remark in the beginning of the respective chapter(s) that says that the following text is partially/largely based upon your journal article.

  • Thank you! I will add this line now to my chapter. I added something in the edit section of my question to answer your question.
    – Adam
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 16:52
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    "text is partially/largely based upon your journal article" might not be true, and is largely irrelevant even if it is. The important point, in my mind, is that "(portions of) these results have previously been published as <citation>" or "an article based on this work appeared in <citation>".
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 17:39
  • @BenVoigt: I consider these statements as synonymous. If the text is based upon the article, that can just as well mean that the information conveyed by the text originates from the article, not the actual words found in the text. And I would rather err on the safe side - maybe some of the sentences are indeed more or less the same as in the journal article. Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 18:17
  • @BenVoigt has a point, the norm is to indicate the results have been published elsewhere. The point of any journal article is to report new findings (unless you are replicating or reviewing earlier findings). Therefore using 'results' is more to the point. That is what I observed in many theses, when I was checking how to word this for my own thesis.
    – yanes
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 18:30
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    @PatriciaShanahan: The dissertation may well be a derivative work (unless I interpret this term differently than you do), even if it is not a "stapler thesis" in the narrow sense of the word. The point of these statements is to preemptively counteract accusations of self-plagiarism, both concerning republishing of results and copying (semi-)verbatim passages of text. Pointing out that results have been published before tackles the former, but fails to address the latter, while pointing out that the content of a chapter is "based upon" one or more articles addresses both concerns. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 21:45

Let's start from the ethical and get to the legal. I have no experience in European law (a bit of experience with Israeli law) so I won't be able to contribute much - except for a perspective, which is often no less important than the legal details.

Ethically the problem lies with the fact that a Journal has copyrights on scientific research papers appearing in it. More specifically, in that the copyright mechanisms and the scientific publishing industry are having a chilling effect - justified or unjustified - on people like you. You should not have had to rewrite your article because of the fear of Wiley or whoever it is. In fact, in hindsight I would even have considered just using whatever parts of the text are scientifically relevant to the thesis, on the good faith basis that society will not allow you to come to any harm for doing your work faithfully as a researcher. On that note, did you know that Copyright (in England anyway) was originally a concession by the Crown to monopolistic book printers? So one monopoly on power props up another. Terrible.

Legally it is not entirely clear from your post what Wiley actually has. First, if they had you sign some standard form, there could be an argument against its validity from the get-go. The interpretation of what the form says can very well be thought of as having an exception for uses such as inclusion in Ph.D. theses, and that it did not occur to you at any point that they are allowed to make demands about placing notices on their behalf in your thesis etc. Then there's the copyright law itself in your country - see what exceptions and allowances it has for socially-beneficial scientific work, use in scholarly/research activities etc.


Never ask them for advice on what you can do. They will tend to advise you in a way which is the most useful for them and with the legal interpretation most favorable to them. Also, if you do ask someone for legal advice, don't ask him/her "Can you guarantee that what I want to do is legal?" or "Can you guarantee that the publisher's demands are invald?" Ask him/her just this: "Will you be able to defend me in court if I do this and they sue?" The answers will typically be "Not really", "Not really" and "For sure" respectively. (Just to be clear, that doesn't guarantee that you win in court, but it does mean you're unlikely to get sued at all.)

  • "Will you be able to defend me in court if I do this and they sue?" I think you imply success, but you did not make that explicit. I would think any competent lawyer would be "able" to defend anyone. Perhaps you should clarify.
    – Aaron Hall
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 20:26
  • @AaronHall: If you ask lawyers "will I win the case", you won't get a straight answer... I did imply that the defence would be worth-while, i.e. not just say anything trying to defend the indefensible also, see edit.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 20:51
  • You are right, but not everybody thinks normal these days. A study of the copyright should be done.
    – Nikey Mike
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 21:34

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