It is recognised that there will be instances when a thesis will contain confidential information that cannot be made freely accessible. Confidentiality may relate to the substance of the information or the source of the information. The consent of individuals to gather, record and utilise such information must be obtained. Students must ensure that the rights of individuals who have made the research possible are protected at all times. In general however, the University expects that a thesis will be available for consultation by researchers as soon as possible after the degree has been awarded.
Thesis preparation guidelines detail the appropriate use of confidential material and its impact on the presentation of the thesis, its examination, and long-term retention by the University.
The question of ownership of intellectual property is addressed at several stages of the candidature, including at application, during the candidature confirmation procedure, and during the annual review of progress. Students should seek the advice of their supervisors or faculty Dean if issues arise relating to intellectual property.
In addition to the University's general Intellectual Property Policy (PDF 327k) the following considerations are pertinent to the rights of students with respect to intellectual property arising from their candidatures.
- the University considers that students have ownership of the intellectual property directly related to their research project unless other arrangements have been mutually agreed to in advance by the student and the University. Students should be circumspect about entering into any contract with an outside body in order to obtain access to information, funding, or resource materials
- any legal agreement bearing on the intellectual property rights of a student should be signed in accordance with the University's normal procedure for signing contracts. Students are advised to seek independent legal advice before entering into any contracts that impact upon the ownership of their intellectual property. In recognition that research projects may involve researchers working in teams where the contribution to the research and ownership of the intellectual property of all relevant parties must be acknowledged, the University may seek to negotiate other ownership arrangements. Heads of Elements and faculty Deans may consider whether it is appropriate to proceed with a recommendation of candidature for a student who is not prepared to enter into an agreement, particularly if the student will be working as part of a team where the rights of staff and other students may be a consideration
- where a student's candidature is wholly or partially funded by an external organisation, the student's supervisor should notify the Office for Research of their intention to engage students on the project prior to their engagement. Students need to be fully informed of the University's obligations to the external organisation in relation to intellectual property
- the host element and the University should ensure that the research program is not unreasonably influenced by commercial or industrial factors and that a student's thesis is able to be examined and published
- any delay in publication (eg, while patentability is investigated and patent specifications are drawn up and lodged) should be minimised. The normal maximum delay in publication is 12 months. Any agreement should be sensitive to the legal consequences of publication of intellectual property in theses that may vary between the States and Territories
- the thesis examination is conducted 'in-confidence', and includes provision for confidentiality agreements with examiners should that be deemed necessary
- restricted access to theses after the examination will be considered by the University when a case is made, and only agreed to in compelling circumstances. Such circumstances could include commercial confidences, but not simply the denial of access by other scholars. When granted, restricted access should be for a limited time, and as short a period as possible
- agreement should be reached between the student and supervisor/s concerning authorship of publications and acknowledgment of contributions during and after the candidature. There should be open, equitable and mutual recognition of the student's and supervisor's contribution on all published work arising from the project
- no policy or agreement should be made that prevents students from meeting all the requirements of the relevant higher degree policy.
Policy and guidelines
The Copyright Act 1968 automatically grants protection to authors and creators of works without any requirement for registration. This protection applies to students both as authors, and as researchers accessing the work of other scholars and fellow students. Infringement of copyright constitutes academic misconduct (PDF 54k) and may lead to the imposition of financial and other penalties. Prosecution under the Copyright Act 1968 may render a student liable for fines and claims for monetary compensation.
Students should be aware of their obligations under the Copyright Act 1968. The Griffith University Copyright Guide and Intellectual Property Policy (PDF 327k) provide a useful introduction to the issue of copyright and how it affects students' candidatures.