This information is not relevant to those candidates enrolled in the PhD by Prior Publication program, 6002 or 6024. PhD by Prior Publication candidates should refer to the program specific thesis formatting information.

HDR candidates may include one or more papers within the body of their thesis where such papers have been produced under supervision and during the period of candidature; and where the quality of such papers is appropriate to Doctoral or Masters (Research) level research.  A thesis prepared in this way is a different thesis format, it is not a different degree. There are several advantages to organising a thesis in this way:

  • Preparing papers for publication saves time when preparing the thesis for examination as papers may make up one, or several, chapters within the thesis.
  • It is to your advantage to publish work from your thesis as a means of disseminating your research, and developing your writing skills.
  • It may improve the quality of your thesis as part of your thesis has already been subjected to peer review.
  • Examiners may have more confidence in your thesis if they can see that you have already published your research. In addition, you will have already met one of the criteria of examination, with the thesis suitable for publication.

As a candidature requirement, all doctoral candidates are expected to have at least one peer reviewed output accepted for publication during candidature. Whilst not compulsory, candidates are encouraged to include this publication in the body of the thesis due to the advantages as outlined above.

Higher degree by research is a program of independent supervised study that produces significant and original research outcomes, culminating in a thesis, exegesis or equivalent (refer to Higher Degree by Research Thesis). Inclusion of papers within a thesis is not a suitable thesis format for all research projects, for example: collaborative projects where there may be several co-authors for each paper which may make it difficult for the examiner to establish the independence of the candidates work; where primary data is not collected, or results obtained, until late in the candidature; or where the research will not produce a logical sequence of papers that are able to be presented as an integrated whole. Candidates should also take into account whether this thesis format is an accepted practice within their discipline and likely to be received well by the thesis examiners (refer also to the examination requirements below). Candidates are required to consult with their supervisor(s) early in their candidature to determine if this thesis format is appropriate. It is expected that candidates will identify as part of the confirmation of candidature milestone if their thesis is to be prepared in this format.

Candidates should consult their Group specific guidelines in addition to the requirements detailed below.

Candidates are also encouraged to attend the workshop: ‘Inclusion of papers within a thesis’ offered by the Griffith Graduate Research School.

Refer also to the Griffith University Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, specifically the sections pertaining to publication ethics and the dissemination of research findings, and authorship.

Status of papers
A thesis may include papers that have been submitted, accepted for publication, or published.
Some disciplines may specify a variation to the status of papers requirement, refer to your Group specific guidelines.

Type of papers
For the purpose of this requirement, papers are defined as a journal article, conference publication, book or book chapter. Papers which have been rejected by a publisher must not be included unless they have been substantially rewritten to address the reviewers’ comments, or have since been accepted for publication. Some disciplines may specify a variation to the type of papers requirement, refer to your Group specific guidelines.

Number of papers
A thesis may be entirely or partly comprised of papers. A paper maybe included as a single chapter if the paper contributes to the argument of the thesis, or several papers may form the core chapters of the theses where they present a cohesive argument.  Where a thesis is entirely comprised of papers, there is no minimum requirement for the number of papers that must be included (except as noted below) and is a matter of professional judgment for the supervisor and the candidate. Overall, the material presented for examination needs to reflect the research thesis standard required for the award of the degree. For example, PhD candidates, on the basis of a program of independent supervised study, must produce a thesis that makes a significant and original contribution to knowledge and understanding in the relevant field of study. This remains a matter of professional judgment for the supervisor and the candidate.

Where a thesis is entirely comprised of papers, some disciplines may specify a minimum number of papers to be included, refer to your Group specific guidelines.

The candidate should normally be principal author (that is, responsible for the intellectual content and the majority of writing of the text) of any work included in the body of the thesis. Where a paper has been co-authored, the candidate is required to have made a substantial contribution to the intellectual content and writing of the text, Co-authored work in which the candidate was a minor author can only be used and referenced in the way common to any other research publication cited in the thesis. A signature from the corresponding author is required in order to include co- authored material in the body of the thesis, refer to the declarations section below.

For co-authored papers, the attribution of authorship must be in accordance with the Griffith University Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, which specifies that ‘authorship must be based on substantial contributions in one or more of:

  • conception and design of the research project
  • analysis and interpretation of research data
  • drafting or making significant parts of the creative or scholarly work or critically revising it so as to contribute significantly to the final output’.

Some disciplines may specify a variation to the authorship requirement, refer to your Group specific guidelines.

Quality of papers
Candidates should endeavour to publish their research in high quality peer reviewed publications. Papers to be included in the body of the thesis should be published (or submitted for publication) in reputable outlets that are held in higher regard in the relevant field of research. Candidates should consult their supervisor(s) for advice on suitable publications specific to their research discipline. Some disciplines may specify quality standards that must be met for papers to be included, refer to your Group specific guidelines.

The library also provides support and advice to candidates on choosing a journal. Candidates are advised to note in particular advice in order to avoid ‘predatory’ publishers.

As copyright in an article is normally assigned to a publisher, the publisher must give permission to reproduce the work in the thesis and put a digital copy on the institutional repository.  Information on how to seek permission is available at: Copyright and Articles in thesis.

If permission cannot be obtained, students may still include the publication in the body of the thesis, however following examination the relevant chapter(s) will be redacted from the digital copy to be held by the Griffith University Library so that the copyright material is not made publicly available in the institutional repository.  Students are required to advise the copyright status of each publication included in the thesis via a declaration to be inserted in the thesis, as detailed below.

Students requiring further advice regarding copyright issues can contact the Information Policy Officer on (07) 3735 5695 or

Group and discipline requirements

Some Groups or Elements may specify additional requirements for including papers within a thesis, refer below:

Consult the thesis preparation and formatting guidelines for general information about the requirements for formatting the thesis. Some disciplines may specify a variation to the thesis format requirements below, refer to your Group specific guidelines.

Structure of Thesis and linking Chapters
The structure of the thesis will vary depending on whether the thesis is partly or entirely comprised of papers. Whatever the format, the thesis must present as a coherent and integrated body of work in which the research objectives, relationship to other scholarly work, methodology and strategies employed, and the results obtained are identified, analysed and evaluated.

In general every thesis should include a general introduction and general discussion to frame the internal chapters. The introduction should outline the scope of the research covered by the thesis and include an explanation of the organisation and structure of the thesis. The general discussion should draw together the main findings of the thesis and establish the significance of the work as a whole, and should not just restate the discussion points of each paper.

It is important that candidates explicitly argue the coherence of the work and establish links between the various papers/chapters throughout the thesis. Linking text should be added to introduce each new paper or chapter, with a foreword which introduces the research and establishes its links to previous papers/chapters.

Depending on the content of the paper(s) and nature of research, a research methods chapter may also be necessary to ensure that any work that is not included in the paper(s), but is integral to the research, is appropriately covered. Any data omitted from a paper may also be included as an addendum to the thesis.

For further information on the thesis structure, refer to the following examples of acceptable ways to format the thesis when including papers.

Format of papers
The papers may be rewritten for the thesis according to the general formatting guidelines; or they can be inserted in their published format, subject to copyright approval as detailed above.

Candidates may repaginate the papers to be consistent with the thesis. However, this is at the discretion of the candidate.

All theses that include papers must include declarations which specify the publication status of the paper(s), your contribution to the paper(s), and the copyright status of the paper(s). The declarations must be signed by the corresponding author (where applicable). If you are the sole author, this still needs to be specified. The declaration will need to be inserted at the beginning of the thesis, and for any co-authored papers, additional declarations will need to be inserted at the beginning of each relevant chapter. You may wish to consult the declaration requirements for inclusion of papers diagram to ensure that you insert the correct declaration(s) within the thesis. Please note that completion of the declaration(s) does not negate the need to comply with any other University requirement relating to co-authored works as outlined in the Griffith University Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Assessment by Examiners
Candidates who wish to include papers within their thesis, and who have determined that this thesis format is appropriate to the research project, should also consider whether this thesis format will be well received by the thesis examiners. The inclusion of papers may negatively impact on the thesis upon assessment by the examiners where: the thesis format is not a common or accepted practice within the candidates discipline area; where the inclusion of co-authored papers makes it difficult for the examiner to establish the independence and originality of the candidates work; where the thesis does not present to the examiner as an integrated whole; or where there is too much repetition in the thesis which an examiner may view as a weakness.

Theses that include papers are subject to the same examination criteria as theses submitted in the traditional format. It should also be noted that the inclusion of published papers within the thesis does not prevent an examiner from requesting amendments to that material.

Candidates should discuss the suitability of this thesis format for examination with their supervisor(s).

Nomination of examiners
It is the responsibility of the principal supervisor to nominate thesis examiners, and the process dictates that the principal supervisor must approach all nominees to determine their willingness to examine. Where a candidate’s thesis is formatted to include papers, the principal supervisor must also ensure that the examiners are familiar with and/or accepting of, this thesis format.

Upon dispatch of a candidate’s thesis to an examiner, the examiner will be reminded that the thesis has been formatted to include papers. The examiner will also be provided with the relevant information and regulations regarding this thesis format.