Using Material Created By Others In My Thesis Or Dissertation

A common misconception that students have is that all material used in their thesis or dissertation has to be 100% their own original writing or work. However, this is far from the truth and a lot of leniency is offered in terms of allowing students to include material created by others.

There are two main ways in which you can include material that is not your own: either through supplemental material that is used in helping to understand your thesis, or directly as part of your thesis paper. In this article, we will explain how to use material not originally created by you in both your thesis and as part of your supplemental material.


You are offered significant leeway in terms of being able to include material that is not your own in your thesis. However, there is a caveat to this and that is the fact that everything that is not written by you must be referenced clearly.

Now, every institution has its own policy on referencing, however, by far and large, the most common system of referencing used is the Harvard referencing system. In this referencing system, you must mark any text you have included as not your own by a sub or superscript.

Then, a reference is made below the made the page, giving the reader some brief information on the reference. This must be done for every piece of text you have included that is not your own writing. This cannot be stressed enough, as the standards for referencing work is very strict in higher education and failure to reference everything properly can lead to plagiarism claims.

Once you have created this reference, it is time to make a bibliography page. In the bibliography, you will include further details on the reference, such as author name, name of the book, page numbers and date of publishing.

Supplemental Material

As you may be aware, you are also allowed to submit supplemental material with your thesis. These are usually in the form of audio or visual files. Again, you are allowed to use material created by others for supplemental material. However, when handing in your supplemental material, you must include written permission by the owner to allow you to use this material. Furthermore, if the material is under third party software, then you must provide written permission to distribute it.

As you can see, students are permitted to use material not created by themselves, however, strict referencing must be adhered to and, when submitting supplemental material, you must provide the necessary permissions by the owners of the material allowing you to use their work. We hope that this article has given you insight into the strict referencing standards that need to be adhered to.