Why restricting access to your published thesis may be important.
You have worked hard on your research project. You are ready to submit your thesis. This is indeed an exciting time and this milestone in your research career should of course be celebrated. However, as part of the submission process, it is important to spend a little time giving thought to what type of access should be granted once the thesis is passed by the examiners.
Since The University seeks to maximise the impact of research undertaken, once your thesis is accepted, it is published on the Minerva repository. This enables open and easy public access unless specified otherwise at the time of submission. Unless you specifically opt out, access to your thesis will be unrestricted.
Open access to your published thesis may result a range of unintended consequences including:
- foregone possibility of patent protection of intellectual property resulting in diminished commercial value of your research
- violation of 3rd party copyright or
- uncontrolled presentation of politically or culturally sensitive topics.
Therefore, given appropriate justification, you may nominate a restricted access option. During the online thesis submission process, Exceptional Circumstances: Restricted Access, External Embargo or Full Embargo options may be selected instead. These result in the following access restrictions:
- External Embargo limits thesis access to University members, staff or student with their login credentials via the University’s library
- Full Embargo which provides access only in the Library’s reading room and no copies can be made
- Exceptional Circumstances: Restricted Access can be applied to sensitive topics indefinitely but must be applied for separately.
Note that both embargo options will display thesis metadata (author, thesis title, keywords, abstract). Therefore, if the metadata contains sensitive information, then an application for Exceptional Circumstances: Restricted Access should be made. During submission you will be asked for an 80 word summary which is not made public. It is provided to assist potential reviewers in determining their interest in and suitability for examining the thesis. After thesis acceptance, the student is expected to submit an abstract which is made public as thesis metadata. If an abstract could potentially jeopardise patenting, a redacted version or even the 80 word summary may be submitted.
The embargo options are valid for 2 years after which the researcher and student will be contacted. At this time an extension of the embargo for another 2 years may be requested. If there is no response, the thesis embargo will be lifted automatically. Alternatively, if there are further concerns, an application for ‘Exceptional Circumstances: Restricted Access’ can be filed, which would restrict access indefinitely.
Instead of putting the entire thesis under embargo, it is also possible to restrict access solely to the appendix where a student could compile all 3rd party copyright, potentially patentable subject matter, or culturally and politically sensitive topics. These materials can then be referred to in the main body of work, allowing parts of the produced material, methods and results to be accessible for the wider public, while restricting access to sensitive materials.
Whilst the thesis access review process requires that authors are contacted in a timely fashion, it is in your best interest to be proactive in ensuring that restricted access is prolonged, if information is of sensitive nature.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is correct as of September 2019. For updates or inquiries please see the weblinks and contacts below. The RIC IP&Tech Transfer Services team does not manage thesis submissions, copyright or access.