Restricting Access to your Thesis

Restricting Access to your Thesis

There may be a valid reason why you need to restrict access to your thesis. In most cases this will be for a limited period of time, e.g from 6 months up to 3 years.

However, if your thesis has been commercially sponsored you may have signed an agreement which does not permit you to make it publicly available. If you are in this position you should indicate this on the thesis access declaration form.

UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) expect a PhD thesis to be available open access within 12 months of the award, see: p. 23 of the Research Councils UK Conditions of Research Council Training Grants.

The three main requirements are:

  • Metadata describing your thesis must be available in Enlighten : Theses as soon as possible after the award of your PhD
  • Full text of your PhD must also be available in the repository no later than 12 months following the award
  • The funder body and award number should be acknowledged, eg: This work was supported by Arts and Humanities Research Council [grant number xxxxx]

This applies only to PhD theses under embargo with funding from any of the UK Research and Innovation bodies.

Other than this there are a range of reasons why it may be necessary to restrict access to your thesis. Because theses can be requested under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, grounds for embargoing access to a thesis need to relate to one of the exemptions provided for by the Act. The most common reasons why you might need to embargo access are listed below:

  • Your thesis is due for publication, either as a series of articles or as monograph
  • Your thesis contains commercially sensitive information, the release of which might prejudice the commercial interests of any person including the author, the University or an external company
  • Your thesis includes material that was obtained under a promise of confidentiality
  • The release of your thesis might endanger the physical or mental health or the safety of an individual

detailed list and guidance on the scope of exemptions is available from the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Theses may also be requested under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs). If you think you may need to restrict access to your thesis in relation to environmental information you may need to specify an EIRs exception rather than an FoI exemption. Information about EIR exemptions is available.

You should talk to your supervisor when establishing if there is a need to restrict access to your thesis. They will be able to advise if one of the exemptions permitted under the Act is applicable. If you need further help with this you should contact the FoISA co-ordinator for your School in the first instance. Your supervisor is required to sign the Thesis Access Declaration form to indicate that they agree with your decision on restricting access to your thesis.

Requests for embargoes should be made on the Thesis Access Declaration Form. All requests will be considered by your Graduate School. You must indicate in the space provided in the form which exemption you are claiming, and why you feel an exemption is necessary. It is important that you hand this form in to your Graduate School before you undertake your viva so that there is time for your request to be considered.

If requests are approved, theses will normally be embargoed for a period of three years with the exception of RCUK funded PhDs. Your College/School should inform you if your request has been approved. If you feel there is a valid reason why the period of embargo needs to be longer than three years you should indicate this in the appropriate section of the Thesis Access Declaration form.

Conversely, if you are granted an embargo but decide during the three year period that this is no longer necessary you can let us know by e-mailing theses@gla.ac.uk. We will contact your supervisor (or your Head of School, if your supervisor is no longer at Glasgow) to establish if it is appropriate to make the thesis available earlier.