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Thesis deposits

Disclaimer: This page is intended as guidance only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

Benefits to making your thesis available electronically:

Electronic submission of theses in the Warwick Research Archive Portal (WRAP) is required of all PhD students, from the academic year 2008/09 onwards. This can have great benefits for students, departments and the University, including:

  • Wider visibility for your research through high search engine ranking and harvest by external services
  • Extends the global reach of your research and encourages better use of your thesis by others and helps to get your work noticed, used and cited
  • Easy worldwide access for colleagues, collaborators, job applications and grant proposals
  • Helps meet your funder's expectations for open access, as detailed in the RCUK terms and conditions and new RCUK open access policy
  • Speeds the progress of research
  • Plagiarism protection
  • Permanent guaranteed hosting with a unique url

Issues to consider:

It is very important to consider the amount of access you should allow to the electronic copy of your thesis. There are three main reasons for this:

  1. Your thesis contains personal or commercially sensitive material
  2. Your thesis contains third party copyright material
  3. Publishers views on prior publication

Once you have decided what level of access you would like us to provide to your electronic thesis, you will need to indicate this on the form you submit with your thesis to the Graduate School. The form can be found in their Forms, Policies and Procedures Library, listed as the 'Library Declaration and Deposit Agreement'.

Sensitive material and patents

University rules permit you to request an embargo on access to your thesis for a specific period. This would apply to both the print and electronic versions. You should discuss this with your supervisor and follow the standard procedure for arranging an embargo, informing us that your thesis should not be made publicly available online when you submit. More information can be found on the Graduate School's website.

Sensitive material which would mean embargoing access to your thesis includes:

  • Patient or pupil details in clinic-based or education topics
  • Confidential data revealed by sponsors or through interviews/questionnaires
  • Real names or personal addresses in case studies or questionnaires
  • Evidence that animal testing was done
  • Partnerships with commercial companies who may have a stake in your results
  • An idea which you wish to patent.

If you are considering patenting the idea(s) described in your thesis then you might find the Warwick Ventures web page on Intellectual Property useful. In order to obtain a patent, you must not have already published about the idea, and WRAP deposit would constitute publication.

Third party copyright material

It is illegal to make an electronic version of your thesis available if it contains third party copyright material, which you do not have permission from the copyright holders to include.

Material that might be in your thesis and which could be considered third party content includes:

  • Photographs you did not take
  • Sections that you subsequently published without significant alteration in a journal or book
  • Long quotations from other works, even if properly attributed
  • Material for which a patent was granted
  • Models/diagrams sourced from books
  • Maps, such as Ordinance Survey photocopies, or sourced from books
  • Photocopies or scans of paintings (including portraits) and other artworks, or manuscripts/old accounts/other historical documents

You can include any of this material in your thesis, as it is submitted for the purposes of examination, without needing to seek permission from copyright holders. But we cannot put an electronic version of your thesis online if it contains any material that is not covered by another exception to copyright law, or permission granted by the copyright holder.

Print copies of theses are made available for consultation after they have been submitted for examination. However, access to the print copies are restricted to those able to access a physical copy of the thesis, and rights holders have been comfortable with that. Allowing online access to theses requires more sensitivity to copyright law.

Copyright law allows referenced quotation of others' work, so you don't need to worry about all content that you include from others' work. If you are including a substantial proportion of another's work, then you may still be able to use it, if you do so in order to criticise or review the content that you have included. Such exceptions require you to make a judgement for yourselves, so you might want to consider whether you would be happy, as an author, with others copying a similar quantity of your own work. When in doubt, it is always better to ask for permission.

Incidental inclusion of a trademark is not an infringement, e.g. if a photo or video clip happens to show a person wearing branded shoes, or drinking a Coca-Cola.

Your options:

  1. Obtain permission from copyright holders and include evidence of this permission with the full thesis
  2. Submit an additional abridged version of your thesis without the copyright material but referring to it so that others can find it when reading your work. (You must still submit a whole copy, which will only be accessible to authorised members of University staff.) Please be clear to label the copies/files appropriately, upon submission
  3. Submit the full electronic version of your thesis to WRAP but stipulate that it must not be made openly accessible on the form submitted with your thesis

When do I need to ask for permission?

Not every quote or extract has to be covered by rights owners' permissions. Fair dealing allows for criticism and review, and for small extracts of others' work to be included with your own. How you interpret fair dealing under copyright law is up to you. (Note: this is not the same thing as "Fair Use" which applies only in the USA.) If you are making a serious critical point and your argument cannot be justified without reproducing the content to which you refer then it may be covered by fair dealing and it's up to you to make a judgement call on the matter.

The International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers have provided guidance on quotations and excerpts. You might find this helpful, particularly if you wish to include content from one of the 12 key publishers who signed up to this guidance. It makes clear statements about the inclusion of diagrams and illustrations, which are more tricky to know how to handle than text.

How quick and easy is it to seek permission?

This depends on what material you wish to include and who the rights owners are. It will take time and you should ideally seek permission from the earliest stage at which you think you wish to include the content in your thesis.

Rights owners might be the publisher, author or illustrator. It is a good idea to start by contacting the publisher. Publishers of your own work are generally inclined to let authors include their publication material in their online theses, but you will need to ask.

Publisher web sites are a good place to look for who to send your request to: look for information on copyright, permissions or clearance for example and you can use the template text provided below to help request permissions as well.

It may take a long time (weeks) for a rights holder to get back in touch with you, but a lack of response does not indicate permission to go ahead. Sometimes obtaining permission to use third party copyright content can be a tricky and lengthy process.

Ask the WRAP team for advice on seeking permissions: publications at warwick dot ac dot uk

Template text for contacting a publisher

Dear Sir,

I am contacting you to seek permission to include the following material within the electronic version of my PhD thesis:

[Provide full details of the material you intend to include]

If you are not the rights holder for this material I would be grateful if you would advise me who to contact.

The thesis will be made available within the University of Warwick's online research repository (http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk). The repository is non-commercial and openly available to all.

What do I do once I have the permission?

If a copyright holder indicates that permission has been granted you should indicate this at the appropriate point in your thesis, e.g. 'Permission to reproduce this ... has been granted by...'. You should keep a copy of any letters or e-mails you received from rights holders, and include electronic copies of them with your submission.

A publisher may wish to charge you a fee before they will allow you to use their content in your online thesis, but you do not have to pay unless you wish to. You do not have to make your thesis (or that content) available online.

What happens if I can't get permission?

If you get no response, or if the response is a negative or too expensive for you, then you can use the option to embargo access to your thesis online, or submit a version of your thesis with un-permitted content removed.

Prior publication issues

If you are looking to publish material from your thesis once your PhD has been awarded you should be aware that some publishers have concerns about this. For some publishers WRAP deposit can constitute prior publication.

The WRAP team conducted a survey of publishers on this issue and the results of this survey provide more advice on this topic.

Process for submitting your thesis

When preparing and submitting your thesis you should refer to the Graduate School. Their pages have further guidance for students who are approaching the point of submission.

If you wish to embargo your thesis or submit a copy with any problematic third-party copyright material redacted please indicate this on the Library Declaration and Deposit Agreement which should be bound into the front of the hard bound copy you submit to the Graduate School.

Where to find help?

  • Book a WRAP@mydesk session
  • Email publications at warwick dot ac dot uk