During your candidature, copyright and the use of third party content will affect your work in two distinct ways – firstly and most importantly, in the publishing of your work on the Research Portal and secondly, in the way you use material in your research.

If you need specialised advice regarding copyright and your thesis, contact the Copyright Coordinator.

Using third party works in your thesis

You need permission to use any third party content (anything you did not create yourself, see I'm a Murdoch student. Why is Copyright important to me?) in your thesis.

It is University policy that a copy of your thesis will be made publicly available in the Research Portal. This may raise complex copyright issues when using third party works because, in almost all cases, redistributing third party works online requires permission from the copyright owner (usually the publisher). This includes long quotes. The rule of thumb for a ‘fair’ portion for quotes where you do not need permission from the copyright holder is no more than three sentences.

If you need to request permission using a letter, a template is available:


Alternatively, permission may be granted via the Terms of Use or Copyright policy on a website. Look for statements such as ‘you may use this content for educational purposes’ or for ‘ non-commercial purposes’ or an equivalent phrase.

When you get permission, keep a record of it as proof. If you can not get permission, contact the University Copyright Coordinator.

As part of your thesis submission, you must also sign a declaration to the University saying that you have permission for any third party material you have used. From the start of your candidature, be aware that you should get permission from the copyright owner to include a third party work, or part of it, in your thesis.

For images, see if you can find copyright friendly content that does not require specific permission, but is already licenced under a Creative Commons licence.

Using third party works in the research process

In broad terms, the most important elements of copyright legislation that are relevant to you during your candidature are the Fair Dealing provisions at SS.40 and 41 and their Reasonable Portions.

The ‘reasonable portion’ of a work that you can copy for your own research consists of:

  • 1 chapter or 10% of a monograph,
  • 1 article from any one issue of a journal (more, if the subsequent articles are required for the same research as the first),
  • up to 15 pages from an anthology.

It is also considered 'reasonable' to reproduce 'artistic works' (including maps, diagrams, graphs, etc.) that accompany and illustrate/explain a text being copied under Fair Dealing.

You may copy more than a 'reasonable portion' for research & study if:

  • the work is out of print or 'otherwise unobtainable' (for at least 30 days), and a new copy is unobtainable at an ordinary commercial price
  • you have permission from the copyright owner
  • the work is in the Public Domain
  • the work is published under one of the six Creative Commons licences.

Need help?

For further help and advice on how copyright can affect your thesis, contact the Copyright Coordinator.

Helen Balfour



For Murdoch staff and student enquiries:

Murdoch Support Request


For all other enquiries:




The information and advice given in these pages is for general use: it is not legal opinion.