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Scholarly Communication

 

If you are thinking of publishing your thesis with a publisher, depositing it via Open Access may at first seem contradictory to that goal. However, the two options are not mutually exclusive, and opting for Open Access first is definitely worthwhile considering. It increases the visibility and exposure of your work by making it discoverable by search engines. This can lead to higher citation counts, increased potential for international and interdisciplinary collaboration and attention from publishers. It will also provide a stable, long-term URL that you can use to promote and share your work and allow you to monitor the impact of your research by tracking citations and downloads which you can advertise to potential funders or employers. By making a reference copy publicly available you are also better protected against plagiarism.

Won’t Open Access interfere with my chances for publication?

Some authors have concerns that if they make their thesis Open Access this could impact on their ability to publish the work as a monograph at a later stage. There is some good advice in this book chapter Open Access and the Graduate Author: A Dissertation Anxiety Manual.

It very much depends on the publisher and there is, of course, a possibility that they won’t publish your thesis if it is freely available on Open Access. There is some information below about specific publishers. However, remember it is always possible to restrict access to your thesis again at any time. And while you are still looking for a publisher, your research is already available to the community. Interviews with editors and publishers showed that Open Access theses are always considered for publication, see Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities? Findings from a 2011 Survey of Academic Publishers.

A study, Dissertation to Book? A Snapshot of Dissertations Published As Books in 2014 and 2105, Available in Open Access Institutional Repositories concluded that only small numbers of dissertations produced in a year are subsequently published as books and the chance of being published varies depending on the subject area. The study also raises the point that students should also be aware that there is a substantial time delay between dissertation and book publication.

Publisher positions on Open Access theses

Cambridge University Press

"Authors who make their thesis openly accessible in their institution's repository will not be prevented from publishing the work later on as a monograph with Cambridge University Press."

Routledge

"Routledge will sometimes publish books based on theses, and acknowledge that in some instances students may have their thesis openly accessible on their institution's repository. It is usual that once a contract for publication is agreed that this thesis be shut down and only accessible to members of the home institution. This required period of restricted access may vary but will typically be around eighteen months after the publication of the book. The metadata (information about the thesis) may remain available and the thesis can be requested through mechanisms such as inter library loan during this restricted access period. However Routledge recognises that some authors are bound by requirements of their institution or their funder to make their thesis open access. For this reason there is not a hard rule and each case will be considered separately."

Palgrave Macmillan

"Palgrave Macmillan accepts proposals based on dissertations, even when those dissertations have been made available in online repositories. To be considered ready for publication, those dissertations must have been significantly revised." (Taken from Palgrave Macmillan's Early Career Researcher Hub, which also has some further advice)