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Scholarly Communication


What is Open Access?

Open Access is simply making published research results freely available to anyone with an internet connection rather than keeping those results hidden behind a subscription paywall. The term open access was coined in 2002 as part of the Budapest Open Access Initiative. There is considerable information about Open Access here.

Should I think about making my thesis available through Open Access?

Absolutely. Consider how much research goes into a PhD thesis and think about the number of PhD students worldwide. This is a huge resource of original research that will likely remain hidden unless shared. Making all of this work and its results freely available to everyone will be of great benefit to the worldwide research community.

Am I required to make my thesis available?

Yes, if you are funded by any of the UK’s Research Councils. RCUK Training Grants have a requirement that students with funded PhD positions make a full text version of the thesis available no longer than 12 months following award of the doctorate. The RCUK Training Grant Guide states: "Councils recognise that commercial, collaborative or publication arrangements may necessitate a slight delay; the delay can be at the RO’s discretion but we expect the thesis to be deposited as soon as possible. The RCs expect the RO to have in place a documented process for determining where exceptions can be granted to the requirement for publication within 12 months."

For more information, see the overview of Open Access policies and funder requirements.

What if my thesis consists of already published articles?

If your thesis consists of already published articles, your ability to provide it for Open Access mainly depends on your publisher(s) and you will need to have their permission for Open Access publication. Additionally, if your publishers agree to Open Access, there may be further requirements to consider and it would be easiest to contact us directly to talk about the necessary steps. Some further information can be found on our copyright page.

What about copyrighted material I have used in my thesis?

If you wish to publish an article or a book using material from your thesis, then you would need to seek permission again from any third party rights holders; unless you specifically state in your original request that you will also be seeking to publish using the materials as well. It is not unknown in these eventualities for a rights holder to request or expect a fee to be paid. Permission is normally granted to reuse an item ONLY under the circumstances originally requested. Please refer to our copyright pages for further information.