Graduate Research School Doctor of Philosophy Candidates Incorporating Published Material in the Thesis

Incorporating Published Material in the Thesis

(Some of the content in this section is based on material developed by the University of Queensland.)

JCU HDR candidates are strongly encouraged to publish the results of their research. In a great many cases (ideally most cases), at least some of the research will be published or accepted for publication before the thesis is submitted. Where their published work contributes directly to the argument and supports the findings of the thesis, candidates are also strongly encouraged to incorporate relevant portions of the published material into their thesis.

Publication or acceptance for publication of material in the thesis provides an indication to the thesis examiners of the quality and originality of the research in the thesis. However, it does not pre-empt the judgement of examiners: it is neither a criterion nor a guarantee for recommending the acceptance of a thesis in whole or in part. An acceptable HDR thesis will always be more than the sum of several published papers.

Peer reviewed papers may be incorporated into a thesis if each of the following conditions is met:

  • The papers have been published, accepted for publication, or submitted for publication during candidature;
  • The papers contribute to the argument of the thesis;
  • The candidate is the first/principal author of at least 75%, but usually all, of the papers included in the thesis; and
  • The research and written work is substantively the candidate’s.

Papers can be incorporated into a thesis in several ways:

  • Passages from published papers can be transferred directly  with appropriate acknowledgment of the source (or in an appropriately edited form and referenced) into one or more chapters of the thesis; or
  • A published paper or an accepted manuscript can form a single chapter (or several papers may form successive chapters) without any editing. Candidates who elect to include published papers without any reformatting should note that examiners often find this arrangement ‘reader unfriendly’ and that a more acceptable and coherent format can usually be achieved with minimal editing (see below).

The readability of a thesis in which the data chapters have been written as papers can be facilitated by:

  • Removing redundancy;
  • Cross-referencing;
  • Including brief explanatory statements as to how each component contributes to the whole thesis;
  • Including a summary of the major findings at the end of each chapter (examiners typically interrupt their reading at the end of chapters and need to be able to pick up the story again quickly);
  • Reformatting in a single format; and
  • Producing a single list of references.

A published paper or book chapter can be included in its original format as an attachment to the thesis; however, this is not usually necessary if the citation is provided.

Work that has been submitted but not yet accepted for publication may be included in the thesis, but must be clearly distinguished from work that has been published or accepted or publication.

Where the papers have been jointly authored, the nature and extent of the candidate's work must be precisely identified for each paper (e.g. to the extent of identifying which figures or passages of text represent the original work of the candidate). However, as stated above, the candidate is strongly advised to document the contribution of others in qualitative rather than quantitative terms as illustrated in the table below.

The following table illustrates an acceptable method of doing this (*Smith is the HDR candidate in this example):



Details of publication(s) on which chapter is based

Nature and extent of the intellectual input of each author, including the candidate


Smith*, J., Jones, R, and Brown, G. (date). Paper title, journal, volume, page numbers.

The authors co-developed the research question. Smith collected the data and performed the data analyses with assistance from Jones and Brown. Smith wrote the first draft of the paper which was revised with editorial input from Jones and Brown. Smith developed the figures and tables.

Before including the work of co-authors in the thesis, the candidate must obtain their written confirmation that they consent to the inclusion of the paper in the thesis and accept the candidate’s contribution to the paper. These agreements must be appended to the forms submitted by the candidate with the thesis using the following format:

Thesis Title:


Name of Candidate:

Details of publication(s) on which chapter is based

Nature and extent of the intellectual input of each author, including the candidate

I confirm the candidate’s contribution to this paper and consent to the inclusion of the paper in this thesis

Chapter No.




The candidate should appreciate that the examiner of a thesis will have different motivation from the reader of research paper. The examiner of a thesis is interested in the evidence that the candidate has met the requirements for the degree. Thus it is essential to outline the rationale for the approach taken. It may be desirable to include more methodological detail than in a publication, such as comprehensive descriptions of methodologies or statistical treatments, in a general methods chapter or appendices.

The irreducible minimum treatment that is required where papers have been published prior to submission and where they are incorporated as a whole or in parts into a thesis is that the thesis must contain:

  • An independent and original general introduction to the aims and design of the candidate's research project that incorporates an up-to-date and original review of pertinent existing work in the field that is entirely the candidate’s own work. This introduction will contextualise the candidate's project and research question in relation to the present state of knowledge in the field and /or to the social, cultural or policy context.
  • Chapters in a logical and cogent sequence leading to an argument that supports the main findings of the thesis, while further expansion of aspects of published papers (such as more comprehensive descriptions of methodologies or statistical treatments) is encouraged through the use of appendices or additional text in a chapter.
  • An independent and original general discussion that is entirely the candidate’s own work and that integrates the most significant findings of the thesis and presents the needs and prospects for future research. If work published by the candidate during candidature is ancillary to the thesis and does not form part of it, the publications should be listed in a section that details additional publications by the candidate that are relevant to the thesis but do not form part of it. Work undertaken and published prior to candidature cannot be included in the thesis.

Candidates must note that the thesis examiners may request amendments to those parts of the thesis which derive, in whole or in part, from published papers, and that the prior publication of those parts of the thesis is NOT an academically acceptable defence for not incorporating those amendments into the final version of thesis.

Optional suggested steps to converting a paper into the data chapter of a thesis

This procedure should only take a few hours per data chapter and is likely to make the thesis much more reader friendly than including a bundle of papers per se. However, there are disciplinary differences in thesis genres, so check the appropriateness of these suggestions with your advisors.

  • Consider whether you want to include a conceptual diagram for the entire thesis in your Introduction and whether it should be replicated on the front page of each chapter with the relevant sections of the diagram highlighted.
  • Include a statement on the front page of each chapter that states what the chapter is about and explains how it fits in to the overall structure of the thesis.
  • Indicate whether the chapter is: (1) published, (2) in press, (3) in review or (4) has been prepared for publication but not yet submitted, giving the details of the authors, title and journal/target journal, citation, etc.
  • Reformat the Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion sections of the paper into the style of the thesis; use decimal numbering if appropriate.
  • Reformat the abstract of the paper and convert it into a summary placed at the end of the chapter.
  • Go through the paper and insert links to the other chapters in the thesis and remove any redundancy that appears in other (prior) chapters, e.g. methods that have been covered in a methods chapter, descriptions of the study site. Make sure that you insert appropriate links to other chapters in the thesis.
  • Search for words such as ‘we’, ‘our’, etc., and replace with the equivalent first person singular.
  • Re-label all figures and tables in the chapter and indicate the number of the chapter and the number of table, e.g. replace Table 1 with Table 4.1, etc.
  • Excise and if necessary reformat the cited list of references from the paper, remove duplicates and insert a common reference list for the entire thesis.
  • If the paper has been jointly authored ensure that the thesis contains the information on the nature and extent of the work for each paper (for example, to the extent of identifying which figures or passages of text represent the original work of the candidate as explained above).
  • Document the nature and extent of the intellectual input of others to the work reported in the thesis (whether otherwise cited or not) in the Statement of the Contribution by Others in the introductory material at the beginning of the thesis as explained above.