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Graduate Research Portal: Theses Requirements

Library-based support for University of Lethbridge graduate students

Theses Requirements

As part of your graduate studies, you may be required to write a thesis on a topic of interest or importance in your particular field. While exploring and researching your thesis topic is important, it is equally important to be aware of and follow the thesis formatting regulations for your degree program. Thesis requirements and regulations are laid out in the School of Graduate Studies Policies and Procedures. See also the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Intellectual Property Guidelines. You can find these and other key documents that will guide your graduate studies journey here.

You can find information on the SGS thesis/project submission regulations here. This page also includes a sample thesis document and a downloadable project/thesis title page template that is formatted according to APA style.


Mike Seyfang CC BY 2.0

If you intend to include substantial parts of copyrighted materials in your thesis, you must determine whether permission to reproduce them is needed.  Copyright is the set of rights granted by the Canadian Copyright Act to creators of original works and other protected subject matter.  Copyright gives creators the right to exploit and to protect the integrity of their original works.  For more information see the University's Copyright website.
What does copyright protect?  The Copyright Act protects original expressions of ideas, but not ideas themselves.  Neither facts, raw data, methods, artistic styles nor expressions of ideas in the public domain are protected by copyright. Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, performers' performances, sound recordings and broadcast signals are the subject matter protected by the Act.
What are authors' rights?



Under the Copyright Act, the author of an original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work has the sole right, in regard to the work or a substantial part, to
  • produce or reproduce it
  • perform it in public
  • publish it.

The Act lists 10 additional rights that are illustrative of the above three, including translation, conversion of a non-dramatic work into a dramatic work and vice versa, and communication of a work by telecommunication.  Original works are copyright-protected immediately upon creation.  Authors are free to assign or license to others some or all of their rights granted under the Act.

What are users' rights?


Exceptions to copyright infringement are uses of works explicitly permitted by the Copyright Act. The Supreme Court of Canada noted the Copyright Act is a balance between the public interest in encouraging and disseminating works of the intellect and creators' private interest in receiving just rewards for their creative works, with exceptions such as fair dealing playing a key role in maintaining that balance (2002, Théberge). As well, the Court said exceptions are more appropriately termed users' rights, and that fair dealing must not be interpreted restrictively (2004 CCH). Fair dealing may be the most important users' right for writers of graduate theses.
What is fair dealing?



Under the Copyright Act, fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, satire, parody, criticism, review or news reporting does not infringe copyright (the latter three require source attribution).  In CCH, the Supreme Court delineated a two-step test to determine whether a particular use (e.g., copying) of a work is likely to be fair dealing.  
  1. Is the use for a purpose enumerated in the Copyright Act's fair dealing provision?
  2. If a fair dealing purpose applies, is the dealing, on the whole, fair based on factors such as
    • purpose: what is the ultimate purpose of the intended end-user? what is the real motive for copying? is the purpose commercial or non-commercial?
    • character: are single or multiple copies made?  is the copying distributed widely or narrowly? what is the customary copying practice in the trade or industry?
    • amount: is the whole work copied or just a (substantial) part?
    • alternatives: could a non-copyrighted equivalent be used to achieve the same ultimate purpose?
    • nature of the work: is the work confidential? if unpublished and not confidential, is there a public interest in disseminating the work more widely?
    • effect: will the copy or copies likely compete with the original work?

The Court said factors relevant to a fair dealing analysis may vary from case to case and factors other than the above six may be applicable in some contexts.

When do I need permission?


In general, copyright owner or right holder permission is needed to reproduce a copyrighted work (or substantial part) in a thesis unless:
  • the work is in the public domain (the author has been dead for more than 70 years or died in 1971 or earlier), or
  • the owner has granted a public right to reproduce the work (conditions may apply), or
  • an applicable license agreement permits use of the work in theses (conditions may apply), or
  • your desired use is permitted under the Copyright Act (a users' right is applicable).
How should I seek permission?



When permission is required, you should seek it as soon as the need is identified. Permissions must be in writing. If copyright in a work belongs to two or more owners, permission is needed from all joint owners.  A sample permission letter is available here. If you will be relying extensively on fair dealing, it is advisable to conduct a fair dealing analysis guided by the two-step fair dealing test outlined above.

Neither permissions nor fair dealing analyses belong in your finalized thesis but copies of granted permissions should be kept on file and submitted when required (e.g., copies of permissions must accompany submissions to Theses Canada).

If you wish to include a co-authored paper in your thesis for which you are the principal author and you have not transferred, assigned, or exclusively licensed your copyrights to a publisher, you can use this form developed by the School of Graduate Studies to record permission of your co-authors.

May I include my published article?



Whether permission is required depends on the terms of the publishing agreement you signed after your submitted manuscript was accepted for publication. If you need to seek permission, be sure to obtain it from all of your co-authors if the work was jointly authored and reproduction rights were retained by the authors. If the latter scenario applies to you, you may wish to use a form provided by the School of Graduate Studies for this purpose.

The following provide examples of or information about academic publishers' publishing terms or agreements, most of which permit reuse of a published article in the author's graduate thesis:

Thesis Policies and Procedures

Consult the School of Graduate Studies Program Policies and Procedures pertaining to your graduate degree program for important information on developing, producing, defending and submitting your thesis.

Embargo of Thesis

Graduate students may request that uploading of their finalized thesis to the University's institutional repository be delayed for up to 12 months. Justifiable reasons for requesting a delay include:

  • Time to complete and submit a thesis or patent application for a device or idea that emerged from the thesis research.
  • The thesis describes an idea or product that has substantial monetary potential for either the student, or a group of researchers, or the University.
  • A request for the embargo has been requested by a commercial company that funded the thesis research.
  • A journal will not consider publication of paper/manuscript that has been published in a thesis. Evidence of the journal’s policy or a letter from the journal’s editor must be provided.

E-Thesis Submission

The E-Thesis Submission page provides step-by-step directions on how to submit the final pdf copy of your thesis to OPUS, the University's institutional repository of research and creative works.

Finding a Supervisor (MA, MSc, & PhD only)

Finding a Supervisor

Your supervisor is the key person in your graduate degree program. Supervisors should be available to help their students at every stage, from formulation of their research projects through establishing methodologies and discussing results, to presentation and possible publication of dissertations. Supervisors must also ensure that their students’ work meets the standards of the University and the academic discipline.

All prospective MA, MSc and PhD students must find an appropriate supervisor for their studies before submitting an application. These graduate programs are research-based so it is important to secure and identify a potential supervisor in your desired field of research

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