Jacob J. Walker's Blog

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My Initial Research Proposal for my Doctoral Thesis

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Today I submitted my Initial Proposal for my UNISA Thesis Research. I fully expect that my initial proposal will either not be accepted, or that it will take some dialogue with UNISA before they accept it.  The contention will likely be based upon the fact that I’m taking legal passive-resistant efforts to get my thesis ultimately licensed under a Creative Commons license.  I feel I need to take these actions because when I signed up for my doctoral program with UNISA, I was basically forced to contractually to sign-away my copyright to the final thesis, and thus I will not have the direct ability to control the licensing of the work I’m creating.   I have attempted numerous times to contact UNISA to resolve this issue, with most of my emails never being replied to, so now I feel I must take a stronger stance if I am to be able to even have dialogue on the topic, and thus, I wrote the following in my proposal:

When applying to be accepted into the doctoral program with UNISA, I specifically and contractually agreed that “By signing this form I, in accordance with Rule PG18, cede to the University of South Africa the entire copyright subsisting in any dissertation or thesis, or part thereof, including any electronic version, that I may complete for the degree mentioned under 33 above.”

I never agreed that I would cede my copyright to UNISA for my research proposal, thus I believe I am within my legal rights to release this proposal under a Creative Commons license.   Although at this point in time I specifically cannot copy portions of this proposal into my final thesis, unless UNISA agrees to release the thesis under the same terms.  I also have not ceded rights to other works I have or will create, and thus I am free to create a work titled “This is NOT my Thesis” and this is not to be ceded to UNISA. I plan to work on such a paper first, and if UNISA allows the final thesis to be released under the same terms and licensing as this proposal, then I will likely make the personal decision to copy the work from “This is NOT my Thesis” into my thesis, which will then be contractually ceded to UNISA.  I consider using these legal loopholes and subtleties as a form of passive resistance, compatible with the examples set by Nelson Mandela, Thoreau, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. This is a passive resistance to ensure that all humans will have the right to benefit from this advancement in science.

I hope that this will not be met with opposition, but instead that I can work collaboratively with UNISA to have a policy that allows Creative Commons Licensing of student original work. I truly believe that this will be the next step towards UNISA being the African university in the service of humanity, by fulfilling its commitment to the UNGC, including students’ human rights, and increase its dedication to Ubuntu.

Further, it would be a great irony indeed, that a thesis being written about freedom of culture and content could not be released freely.  I plan to continue to work to help UNISA understand the value of Free Culture, and why this proposal, my thesis, and other students’ works should be allowed to be released under a license that is more conducive to a worldwide free culture.  I believe this proposal and the thesis itself should help towards that end.

Note: My use of the word “Ubuntu” is not about the Operating System, it is about the African philosophy of sharing that the Ubuntu Operating System is named after.

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This post has not been revised since publication.

Written by Jacob Walker

March 11th, 2013 at 5:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses to 'My Initial Research Proposal for my Doctoral Thesis'

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  1. […] in the “official” events of the week, I think it is more than symbolic that I submitted my research proposal for my doctoral thesis on Monday, and on Tuesday, I went to a school board meeting to work towards getting more transparency within […]

  2. Hi, I was just curious how did this work out?

    Dan

    18 Jun 14 at 5:28 pm

  3. I know I emailed you also, but for the sake of other potential readers, I thought that I should approve your posting, and share for them that overall I have been happy with UNISA, and that they changed their intellectual property rules to be better.

    Jacob Walker

    24 Jun 14 at 3:02 pm

  4. […] my work on my doctoral studies with the University of South Africa (UNISA).  I have scrapped my past draft research proposal, because I was not sufficiently enthusiastic about what would be gained from them, based upon the […]

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