Sending your research out into the world

On Wednesday 19 June 2019, there is a deadline for PGRs hoping to graduate in July to complete all the requirements for the award of their research degree.  Among a few other things, this includes submitting an electronic copy of your thesis to the University of Birmingham eTheses repository.

deposit etheses screenshot

Depositing your thesis is a great opportunity to engage with Open Research. Making your research openly available without any barriers is recognised as benefiting both the public and scholarly endeavour, speeding up progress and improving research quality and integrity.  The UoB eTheses repository receives over a million downloads per year and provides an important route for exposing your research to the world, allowing others to discover it and benefit from your work.  If people can access your thesis, they are more likely to cite it in their own research, helping to develop your own impact upon your field.  Thus, when you deposit your thesis and are asked to select an access option, it is highly recommended that you choose Option A (fully accessible).  In addition to sharing your thesis openly, you can also make data and software underlying your thesis openly available. Some guidance to get you started on that is available on our Research Data Management pages.

Of course there may be legitimate reasons why you can’t make your theses open access immediately and we provide several access options:

  • Option A: fully accessible
  • Option B: electronic version available upon request until specified end date
  • Option C: electronic version restricted until specified end date
  • Option D: full embargo (hard and electronic copy) until specified end date

The most common reason for not choosing Option A is having a commercial agreement in place.  You might also be concerned about sensitive data in your thesis, though in such circumstances you should discuss options for anonymisation with your supervisor and your thesis can then be openly available with some information redacted.  If you are concerned about the impact of open access on your ability to publish a monograph from your thesis, please check with potential publishers – most of them don’t have such restrictions in place. With pre-prints now becoming more established, most journals won’t object to you submitting an article based on research made openly available via your thesis.

If you are thinking about restricting access, you should check the conditions of any funding you have received. It is increasingly a condition of funding that your thesis is made openly available within a reasonable time from graduation.

As with any research publication, you will need to ensure your thesis complies with copyright legislation.  In short, you should only include third party created material if it is out of copyright, your usage falls under fair dealing, you have obtained permission, or a suitable reuse licence is in place.  You can find out more on the library’s copyright pages.

On the thesis guidance section of the Library Services webpages, you can find out more about your access options and get detailed instruction on how to upload your thesis.

What factors will you consider when deciding which access option to select for your thesis?  What does open access publishing (of theses or journal articles) mean to you?

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Helen Kara

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