Access options for your thesis

If you are a post-graduate research student, you will need to make a choice regarding access at the time you submit your final approved thesis to the library.

The award letter sent out by the Research Student Administration team once the award of your degree has been approved will direct you as to how to deposit your work to the library. When you deposit on the eTheses system (https://etheses.bham.ac.uk/) you will be asked to select an access option as part of the submission process (though as detailed below, you should think about this in advance and discuss it with your supervisor).

You will also have the choice as to whether to apply a Creative Commons licence permitting wider re-use and re-distribution of the work at the stage your thesis becomes openly available online. For more information on the range of licences available please see: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Please note: You should discuss your access option with your supervisor in advance of when you come to deposit your thesis. University guidelines advocate this is discussed at the ‘Notice of Intention to Submit’ stage to ensure paperwork is submitted in a timely manner if this is required.

Access Options A, B and C detailed below don’t require any paperwork to be submitted in advance.

This information is also available in a word document (21KB).

Option A – Fully Accessible (Open Access)

Recommended

Under the terms of option A the electronic thesis is made available on the eTheses Repository for download shortly after submission.

The thesis is supplied on an all rights reserved basis meaning the author retains copyright and there's no limit to what author can go on to do with the work.

The hardbound copy of the thesis will be catalogued and made available as a reference only item from a date after the formal graduation ceremony has taken place.

Provided there are no impediments to making the thesis openly available online, we strongly encourage you to select option A.

This is because option A:

  • Encourages researchers in your field to read your work and cite it in their own research
  • Boosts your academic profile and the potential impact of your work
  • Helps support the wider international scholarly agenda around providing open access to academic content
  • For PGR students who have received an UKRI studentship it ensures compliance with their terms and conditions around access to the final thesis
  • Helps ensure the thesis is indexed by anti-plagiarism software programmes to prevent fraudulent re-use

Option B – Electronic version available upon request

Under the terms of option B the electronic thesis is not freely available to download within a period of time (reasonably) set by the author, however the library is authorised to supply full-text electronic copies to individual requesters and organisations provided the work is to be utilised for non-commercial purposes. A metadata record will exist for the thesis on the eTheses Repository shortly after submission.

The thesis is supplied on an all rights reserved basis meaning the author retains copyright and there's no limit to what author can go on to do with the work.

The hardbound copy of the thesis will be catalogued and made available as a reference only item from a date after the formal graduation ceremony has taken place.

If selecting Option B you will be required to provide an expiration date after which the thesis will become openly available in accordance with the terms of Option A.

Please note, that if you received UKRI funding to support your studies, an option B restriction cannot last for more than 12 months beyond your date of graduation for it to be compliant with the UKRI funder terms.

Option C – Electronic version restricted

Under the terms of option C the electronic thesis is not freely available to download within a period of time set by the author. Any requests for the electronic copy of the thesis will be passed on to the author who will have opportunity to give or withhold their consent for a full-text copy to be supplied to a named requester. A metadata record will exist for the thesis on the eTheses Repository shortly after submission.

The thesis is supplied on an all rights reserved basis meaning the author retains copyright and there's no limit to what author can go on to do with the work.

The hardbound copy of the thesis will be catalogued and made available as a reference only item from a date after the formal graduation ceremony has taken place.

If selecting Option C you will be required to provide an expiration date after which the thesis will become openly available in accordance with the terms of Option A.

Please note, that if you received UKRI funding to support your studies, an option C restriction cannot last for more than 12 months beyond your date of graduation for it to be compliant with the UKRI funder terms.

It is important for authors of theses restricted under an Option C restriction to be contactable and to respond to emails sent out in relation to requests. Where an author is uncontactable the library reserves the right to seek permission from the head of the school or department where the thesis was completed.

A long-term Option C restriction will hinder the ability of researchers in the field to access the thesis, especially those based outside Birmingham and overseas. This in turn will likely result in fewer academic citations and a reduced academic impact. The maximum period of restriction the library will countenance is 100 years from date of graduation; however such a lengthy restriction is not advised.

Option D – Full Embargo

In the event that access to both the electronic and hardbound copies of your work need to be restricted, a restricted access form will need to be completed and signed by the author, lead supervisor and head of school to apply for a full embargo (Option D). Full embargoes are typically granted for no longer than 4 years but are dependent on case by case circumstances. You should ideally submit this paperwork at the same time as submitting your ‘notice of intention to submit’. The restricted access form is available to download on the notice of intention to submit page. 

Embargoes are adjudicated upon by the library weighing up a variety of competing interests. The length of time an Option D Embargo is awarded for varies depending on the circumstances.

Once an Option D Embargo expires, the thesis will revert to becoming subject to the terms of Option A, B or C depending on the preference indicated by the author. We will require this choice to be provided by the author at the time of the thesis submission before graduation. Shortly before the embargo expires we will contact the author to confirm that the original post embargo choice is still correct. If the author wishes to extend the restriction, the author should contact the Scholarly Communications Services team at: ubira@lists.bham.ac.uk  and provide a rationale for extension before the current embargo expires.

Option D Embargoes may be suitable for those theses which:

  • Have been supported by commercial interests and contain potentially commercially sensitive intellectual property (up to 4 years)
  • Are subject to a contractual or legal undertaking between the thesis author and a third party (up to 4 years)
  • Are subject to ongoing negotiation with publishers for future monograph publication (up to 2 years) Please be advised that an option A, B or C restriction are appropriate access choices if you plan to publish in journals (Ramirez et al., 2014).

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