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Final eThesis access level options

The University is committed to ensuring as wide an audience as possible can access and read the outputs of its research and scholarship. The University supports the principles of Open Access (OA) and the efforts of its researchers to disseminate their research findings as widely as possible.

The University's Presentation of Theses policy requires that all final Postgraduate Research eTheses are made Open Access no longer than 12 months after submission, unless an exception to the policy is required for reasons of sponsorship or sensitive content. This policy was agreed by Manchester Doctoral College in line with the global shift to Open Research, including Open Data, and ensures consistency across all of the institution’s research outputs, aligning PGR theses with other research outputs affected by the University’s Publications policy.

The majority of PGR students will be able to comply with the policy by selecting either immediate Open Access, or Open Access with a 12 month embargo, for their final eThesis. In academic publishing terms, an embargo is a period during which access to scholarly work is restricted. An eThesis which is embargoed will not be discoverable or accessible via the University’s systems.

It will not be possible for certain PGR students to comply with the policy, in which case an exception to the policy can be requested. There are a number of specific reasons where an exception to the policy may be appropriate. The following scenarios outline the access level options available:

Scenario 1: Thesis can comply with default policy

Access level options: Immediate Open Access OR Open Access with 12 month embargo

Scenario 2: Thesis meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Contractual restrictions imposed by sponsor
  • Contractual reasons of theses partners (e.g. external co-supervisors)
  • IP / product protection / patent pending / potential commercialisation
  • Thesis contains personally identifiable or ethically sensitive data
  • Other (free text box)

Access level options: Open Access with 5 year embargo OR Indefinite closed access

Scenario 3: Thesis contains data likely to be included in future research by supervisor or collaborators

Access level: Open Access with 2 year embargo

Scenario 4: Student is on blocked Programme/Plan combination (CRUK MI)*

Access level options: Open Access with 5 year embargo OR Indefinite closed access

*Students associated with the CRUK Manchester Institute on specific programme/plan combinations are unable to comply with the policy, so will only be given the option of either 5 year embargo or indefinite closed access

Students funded (partially or fully) via one of the RCUK Research Councils are required as part of the terms and conditions of the grant to make a full text version of the thesis available within the institution’s repository within a maximum of 12 months following award. If there is a formal IP/Copyright contract in place with an additional external sponsor or collaborator this will take precedence and the eThesis may be lodged in the University of Manchester’s Institutional Repository with closed or embargoed access.

Benefits of Open Access

Open Access research offers many benefits to researchers and the wider world:

  • OA allows interested readers who are unable to access subscription journal content, or embargoed theses, to read and build upon research. This can include practitioners, policy makers, the general public, and researchers in developing countries.
  • For the individual researcher, making research OA has been demonstrated to provide a citation advantage, and can support the development of researcher profiles. Making an eThesis OA will increase its visibility, contributing to the establishment and development of the student’s research profile.
  • Increasingly required by research policy makers and funders, OA is an important consideration for all researchers. Making one’s eThesis OA allows students to gain experience of OA without compromising future publication strategies (many publishers do not consider a thesis to be a prior publication).

Plans to publish

The majority of students should be able to comply with the policy by selecting either Immediate Open Access or a 12 month embargo for their final thesis. The default option of Open Access with 12 month embargo allows you 12 months to arrange publication before your thesis becomes openly available.

The Scholarly Publications & Licensing Team at MIT surveyed the major publishers’ policies regarding graduate students’ reuse of work previously made available through their thesis and concluded that the majority of publishers do not generally consider a thesis as a prior publication. Several major academic publishers provide position statements on this issue:

  • Elsevier: ‘Elsevier does not count publication of an academic thesis as prior publication’
  • Nature: ‘The Nature journals are happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis which has been published according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification.”
  • Taylor & Francis: ‘Depositing your PhD in a repository won’t impact on future publication because there … should always be substantial differences between your thesis and a journal article, in length, style, format and content.’

Publishers are likely to require significant revisions and amendments to a thesis as part of the publication process, including expansion of scope and changes to structure. In most cases, publishers will also require the title of a thesis to be altered for publication, especially if the original thesis has been made openly available, so PGR students should consider this when deciding on the title for their thesis.

It is advisable for publication plans to form part of supervisor-student discussions, including after completion of the Notice of Submission form. This will ensure the supervisor is aware of the student’s intentions with regard to publishing, and any concerns about final thesis access can be addressed.

The Library’s eThesis team can provide guidance on self-archiving policies of specific publishers, which should be considered where theses contain published or soon-to-be published work (including journal format theses). Contact us for more information.

See Why might a supervisor override a selected access level? and Case studies to assist you in approving the most appropriate access level for final eTheses.