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Provision of a hard copy thesis to the Library

The University policy relating to the deposit of theses is “Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Science, Master of Letters, and Master of Philosophy by Thesis” in the Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge. This states:

"Before being admitted to the Ph.D. Degree, a student shall deposit with the Secretary of the Board one or more copies of her or his thesis in a form or forms approved by the Board." (Chapter VII, Section 13, paragraph 22)

PhD graduands provide the Student Registry with a bound copy of their thesis to which they attach a 'Deposit & Copying of Dissertation Declaration'. Student Registry then provides the Library with these hard-bound theses which are catalogued and placed on the shelves in a restricted area. Further information about submitting a hard bound thesis can be found on the Student Registry pages.

Provision of an electronic copy to the University repository

Electronic theses need to be submitted to Apollo, the University’s institutional repository through the upload form in Symplectic Elements.

Electronic deposit does not mean that the full text of the thesis will automatically be available. Students are given the choice of different access levels and must discuss their choice with their Supervisor, before uploading a signed access confirmation form at the time the thesis is uploaded for deposit to Apollo. Access levels include the option to make a thesis available Open Access immediately or to embargo access for an initial 12 months, during which time the metadata and abstract of a thesis (but not the full text) will be findable in the repository. For further information on the different access levels and how they will be managed, see here.

Managing copyright issues

There are many copyright issues that can affect whether a thesis can be made Open Access. Information on third party copyright and what you need to obtain permission to use can be found on the third party copyright and your thesis page. In some cases it might not be possible to obtain permission for all third party copyright contained in a thesis. In these instances the University asks that the student either deposits under the controlled access level or that they provide two digital versions of the thesis:

  • A complete digital version of the thesis that reflects the hardbound version. This will be kept in the repository on a restricted access basis. It will be able to be requested for research purposes only.
  • A version of the thesis which has been redacted - where uncleared third party copyright has been removed. This might mean it appears in a closed Appendix, or that the items are 'blanked out' in the text. This version is the one that will be made Open Access.

Funder requirements for making theses available

Please note that students who are funded by a Training Grant from any of the UK’s Research Councils are required to make their theses available within a certain time period, unless there are exceptional circumstances. The UKRI Training Grant rules (TGC 11.5) state “We expect that a full text version of the thesis should be available no longer than 12 months following award of the doctorate. We recognise that commercial, collaborative or publication arrangements may necessitate a slight delay ... however we expect the thesis to be deposited as soon as possible.”

Given the variety of circumstances around a thesis, including the inclusion of third party copyright, intent to patent, commercially restricted information and many others, the University has a system in place to ensure that the access level of the thesis is appropriate and lawful. The University offers a four tiered system for access to their thesis: Open Access, Embargoed (to later become Open Access), Controlled and Restricted. Embargoed and Controlled theses can be requested and are supplied to the requestor with appropriate copyright management. Restricted theses are very rare and only under specific circumstances. 

In relation to the Training Grant requirement, our approach is that we let students decide what is the best access level for their thesis. UKRI agree that because the metadata about the thesis is online in the repository, and because the theses are either openly available or requestable through the Library as they always have been, that this complies with their requirement.

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