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Category Research
Type Guideline
Approved by Board of Graduate Studies, 5 June 2014
Date Guideline Took Effect 5 June 2014
Last approved revision 29 September 2021
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible officer Dean, Graduate Research School

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


The aim of these guidelines is to provide students, supervisors and other staff with information on the inclusion of a candidate's own published material in a graduate research thesis.

Organisational scope

These guidelines apply to all PhD and professional doctorate candidates.


Published material
Content, in this context arising from a candidate's research towards their graduate research degree, formally or currently being made available to the public in a permanent form, for example conference proceedings, book chapters or journal articles.


1.     Overview

  1. The University of Otago encourages publishing during candidature for a doctorate, and the inclusion of published material and/or work submitted for publication in theses where appropriate. Such published material must have been prepared during the candidate's enrolment in the research degree.
  2. If candidates are planning to include published material in a thesis, they should discuss the most appropriate format for this with their supervisors. Practices differ across academic disciplines and it is important to obtain advice from experts within the relevant discipline.
  3. Two formats are commonly used for including published material in a University of Otago thesis:
    1. a hybrid thesis format, whereby published material is inserted either wholly or partially as chapters or sections in the thesis (usually with modification – see 2(a) below; or
    2. a thesis with publications appended, whereby published material is not included in the body of the thesis but is appended to the thesis in an unmodified format.
  4. For the PhD and professional doctorates, the University of Otago does not offer a formal “thesis by publication” option, whereby the thesis is composed solely of a portfolio of publications.

2.     Thesis requirements

  1. The thesis must be an integrated and coherent body of work.
    1. It may be necessary to alter the format of published materials for inclusion in the thesis, including standardising formatting and/or deleting duplicated material.
    2. Publications included sequentially may need to be linked by short bridging sections.
  2. If the hybrid thesis contains multiple publications, candidates need to ensure that they have:
    1. provided an introductory chapter to the thesis that gives some background context and rationale for the research, as well as describing the structure of the thesis
    2. demonstrated their ability to critically engage with the literature, which may mean including a chapter (or substantive sections) critically reviewing the literature
    3. carefully considered their research design and justified choices of methodology and methods where necessary, which may mean including a chapter (or substantive sections) on research design
    4. synthesised and discussed the findings from the publications, which may necessitate including a discussion chapter (or substantive sections).
  3. Where published material is included, the thesis must include a “Co-authorship Form” placed after the thesis abstract.
  4. It is expected that for any published material presented in the body of the thesis, the candidate will be a lead author.
  5. It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that any published work (or parts thereof) included in the thesis comply with copyright provisions and that any guidelines with regard to self-citation are followed.  More information on copyright is available on the University of Otago Library Thesis Information webpage.

3.     Examination of the thesis

  1. The inclusion of published material in a thesis does not guarantee a pass in the degree for which the thesis is submitted. The thesis must stand on its own merits and will be assessed as a single document. Examiners may require changes to any part of the thesis regardless of whether that material has been previously published or not.
  2. All aspects of the thesis including publications and appendices are examinable and may be raised at an oral examination. For example, if a co-author of an included publication conducted some analyses, the candidate may be required to answer questions regarding those analyses.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, please contact:

The Dean, Graduate Research School

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