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Publishing a cumulative doctoral thesis

A cumulative or publication-based doctoral thesis will include (journal) articles and/or academic papers that have already been published by a publisher or submitted for publication. Nevertheless, the doctoral thesis as a whole will still need to be published after the doctoral examination procedure is complete. As the publishers may hold relevant rights, you will need to check what requirements you have to meet before publishing your entire doctoral thesis (online). In some cases, for instance, you will:

  • Only be allowed to use a specific version of the article in your doctoral thesis
  • Be required to include certain phrases in your doctoral thesis at the start of the chapters containing your articles
  • Request an embargo period for the online publication of your doctoral thesis

In certain cases, you may remove articles before the thesis is published.

Icon: Publishing doctoral thesis
© Thomas Häpp / ULB Bonn

This web page contains general information about publishing a cumulative doctoral thesis. However, different faculties have different requirements concerning whether and in what form a cumulative doctoral thesis can be written, what additional criteria apply and in what circumstances you are permitted to remove related articles before publishing your thesis. Please always ask your doctoral office and consult the doctoral degree regulations.

What to do


Removing articles?

  • If necessary, clarify whether you have to publish the included articles when publishing your entire thesis or not. In particular, if these are only attached as an appendix, you may remove articles before the publication of the thesis in certain cases if your doctoral regulations provide for this (this is the case with the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Agriculture) and/or or the responsible doctoral body has approved this. Please consult your doctoral regulations and ask your doctoral office.
  • If you remove articles, you must always include the bibliographical information of these articles including the DOI (if available) in the thesis.
  • Nevertheless, we recommend the publication of the entire thesis including the complete articles, provided that the legal conditions allow this. In many cases this is possible.


Check the legal requirements

  • As the author, you are responsible for clarifying the rights situation for the articles that you would like to publish within your thesis.
  • In the simplest scenario, your articles will be open-access publications, e.g. those published under the popular “CC-BY” Creative Commons license or other CC licences, in which case you will be able to use them in accordance with the terms and conditions of your license without needing to consult the publisher.
  • Otherwise, your rights and obligations will be set out in the contract with your publisher. Please check this contract carefully and do not hesitate to ask your publisher if anything is unclear. Publishers often also offer special, less stringent terms and conditions for use within doctoral theses.
  • The following websites will give you a good overview of the terms and conditions that publishers apply:
    • Sherpa Romeo - search by the title or ISSN of the journal in which you published.
    • Publisher theses policies - this list has been compiled by TU Berlin specifically for use in doctoral theses.
    • Please bear in mind that both websites provide guidance only, not legally binding information.
  • The publishers’ own websites also often provide useful information (generally on pages called e.g. “Sharing Policy,” “Copyright Policy,” “Rights Permission,” “Self-Archiving” or “Green Open Access”).
  • If there are any co-authors, it is always a good idea to get their consent to publish the article(s) in your doctoral thesis.
  • Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, although you should be aware that we are unable to provide legal advice.


Incorporating your articles in your doctoral thesis

  • Incorporate your articles in your doctoral thesis. If they are not Open Access articles, your publisher may have specific requirements. In some cases, for instance, you will only be allowed to use a certain version of an article (preprint, postprint or the version used by the publisher) or will have to include specific wording (e.g. “© Publisher XY. Reprinted, with permission [full citation of original published article]...”).
  • You should always give the full bibliography for each article and use the DOI (if applicable) to link to the publisher's version.
  • If you would like to publish your doctoral thesis online, you should incorporate your pages of articles into the file in such a way that the text can still be copied. Integrating article pages as image files is not a suitable method for reasons connected with long-time archiving and accessibility.
  • We recommend adding continuous pagination, including on the pages containing the articles, as this will make it easy for other researchers to cite your doctoral thesis (some faculties even make this a requirement).


Our recommendation: overview of articles included

Future readers of your doctoral thesis will find it very useful if you provide an overview of the articles that it includes. We therefore recommend incorporating such a list in your cumulative doctoral thesis, e.g. toward the beginning of the document (after the table of contents or in the introduction). For all articles, this should include:

  • Full bibliography for the article
  • Active DOI link, beginning with https://doi.org/... (if applicable)
  • An indication of the version (preprint, postprint or version used by the publisher)
  • Details of the page/chapter in the doctoral thesis where the article can be found

The overview of publications may look something like this (however, please always follow your faculty’s specifications):

List of publications

The present work is a compilation of three peer-reviewed journal articles, together covering the results obtained within this dissertation:

1) Doe, Jane; Musterfrau, Maxi; Doe, Joe. A fancy title. The fancy journal, 2022, 3 (4): 22-30.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1000/demo_DOI
The published article is reproduced in Chapter 3.2 of the dissertation.

2) Musterfrau, Maxi; Doe, Jane; Mustermann, Max. A second article title. The other fancy journal, 2021 , 3 (4): 1-30.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1000/demo_DOI-2
The accepted manuscript of this article is included in Chapter 4.2 of the dissertation.

3) Doe, Jane; Musterfrau, Maxi; Mustermann, Max; Doe, Joe. A third article. WOW journal, 2020, 1 (1): 20-40.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1000/demo_DOI-3
The published article is reproduced in Chapter 5.2 of the dissertation.

Example (modified) taken from the University Library of the TU Berlin, source: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6502105


Publishing your cumulative doctoral thesis

Once all the above questions have been answered, you essentially have the same options for publishing your cumulative doctoral thesis as you do for a monograph one. The following links contain all the information you need plus step-by-step guides for each publication method. Please now proceed in accordance with the information you will find on these web pages.


Publishing cumulative doctoral theses

People usually distinguish between three different versions of a (journal) article that can be used in a doctoral thesis depending on the legal regulations:

  • Preprint (also known as the submitted version, author’s version, draft or manuscript version)
    The manuscript that you submitted originally prior to peer review
  • Postprint (also known as the accepted version, final draft, peer-reviewed version, final author version or accepted manuscript)
    The version accepted by the publisher, including amendments from peer review but excluding the final layout/printproof by the publisher
  • Version used by the publisher (also known as the version of record (VoR), published version, publisher PDF, final version)
    Final published version with the publisher’s layout


Dissertations department

We receive all the doctoral theses written at the University of Bonn, publish theses online on our bonndoc server and help doctoral students through the publication process. Availability: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm.


MNL Branch Library
Friedrich-Hirzebruch-Allee 4
53115 Bonn
2nd floor, room 2.013

Personal appointments only by prior arrangement

Avatar Dyck

Elena Dyck

+49 228 73-9533

Avatar Kneissl

Jaakko Kneissl

+49 228 73-9533

See also

Open Access Service Center

If you still want to submit articles, you will find useful tips on choosing a suitable open access journal on the Open Access Service Center website.

Open Access Service Center (only available in German)


Create an ORCID iD for free and give it to the publishers when publishing articles so that you can be clearly identified.

Useful tips

You can also find further useful information on the publication of cumulative doctoral theses in this presentation by our colleagues at the TU Berlin

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