Intellectual property and the availability of your thesis

Find out about Victoria’s expectations regarding intellectual property and access to your thesis.

The public availability of your thesis

Openness of knowledge

An important component of the university tradition is that knowledge is openly available for examination and criticism by peers.

Victoria’s Human Ethics Committee Guidelines (Appendix 1 of the Human Ethics Policy) require that research results be disseminated and not kept secret.

The expectation that your thesis will be publicly available

It is normally expected that the final version of your thesis, which must be submitted to the University Library in both hardcopy and electronic form, will be freely available to the public.

Once in the Library, your thesis may be consulted, borrowed and copied in accordance with the regulations. The electronic version will be published through the University's online research repository, ResearchArchive.

Implications for your research

You should bear in mind the expectation that your thesis will be publicly available when:

  • choosing topics for research
  • making requests for information
  • giving undertakings to the suppliers of information about confidentiality
  • writing up.

Very often you will be able to omit sensitive information from your thesis as you write.

Withholding access to your thesis

Only in exceptional circumstances will it be possible to withhold access to your thesis.

Legitimate reasons for withholding public access

The main reason the University may agree to withhold access to your thesis is to protect intellectual property or material of a sensitive commercial nature.

Other reasons are outlined in sections 6, 7 and 9 of the Official Information Act 1982. All information held by the University is subject to this Act, which operates on "the principle that the information shall be available unless there is good reason for withholding it".

The University can give no guarantee that information held by it will not have to be made available under the Official Information Act 1982.

Applying to withhold access

To have your thesis withheld from public scrutiny, you will need to apply to the Faculty of Graduate Research using the form below.

You must:

  • apply as soon as it becomes apparent that withholding access may be necessary
  • have very good reasons for seeking to withhold access
  • have the support of your supervisors and Head of School.

Note that:

  • permission will only be granted in exceptional circumstances
  • the maximum period that access may be withheld is two years.

Intellectual property and research with commercial potential ownership

In general, you own any intellectual property (IP) you have exclusively created in the course of your studies. You will retain the copyright to your thesis after deposit in the Library.

In certain circumstances, however, you may be required to sign an IP agreement assigning intellectual property to the University. You may also be required to sign an agreement with any external party involved in your research.

Will I need to sign an IP agreement?

The most important thing to consider is the commercial potential of your research.

  • Is there a chance that your research will lead to the creation of commercially valuable IP?

Additional factors determining whether you will need to enter into an IP agreement are:

  • the involvement of a third party in your research, e.g. a company, a research institute or another university
  • the possibility that you will use existing IP in the creation of new IP
  • the extent to which your use of University resources may contribute to the creation of new IP
  • the extent to which your research is part of a larger research programme
  • the likely contribution of your supervisors to the development of new IP
  • existing IP agreements with third parties.

If you think an IP agreement may be necessary

If you think an IP agreement may be necessary, you must read the University's Intellectual Property Policy and discuss things with your supervisor.

Negotiating an IP agreement

Your Head of School will be responsible for negotiating an agreement with you. You will be entitled to seek independent advice before signing the agreement.

When must the agreement be signed?

An IP agreement must be signed before you will be given approval to carry out your intended research.

If you refuse to sign an IP agreement, you may not be allowed to pursue your research project, though alternatives can be explored.


Once your research is underway, you must notify the University of any IP you create that:

  • you believe may be of commercial interest
  • you developed under commission by the University
  • takes the form of software that is of commercial value and not for open source distribution.

Benefit sharing

The University’s IP policy is that benefits derived from commercialisation of the IP owned by the University shall be equitably shared between the creator(s) and the University.