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Open Access for Theses: how to deposit

Guidelines for UCL research degree candidates on how to deposit an electronic copy of their final thesis in UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS).

Candidates for UCL research degrees are required to deposit an electronic copy of their final thesis in UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS), to be made open access in UCL's institutional repository, UCL Discovery. Theses are amongst the most highly-downloaded items in UCL Discovery. Making your thesis open access will mean that it is accessible worldwide, to anyone who wants to read it.

Read and follow the guidelines in each of the sections below to make sure that you deposit your thesis successfully. Your degree will not be awarded until you have deposited your thesis. You can contact the Open Access Team about depositing your thesis.

Note that only the final, post-viva copy of your thesis needs to be electronically submitted to the Library in this way. It is not required for the examination copy prior to the viva. General information for research degree candidates is available on UCL's Research Assessments website. 

Step by step guide

1. Check copyright and personal data

If your thesis contains any material subject to “third-party” copyright (including copyright in your own publications that is held by a publisher), it is your responsibility to decide whether it can be made available. You should discuss this with your supervisor. It is best to consider this when writing your thesis, to allow time for any necessary permissions requests to be resolved prior to submission.

Personal data, information that could prejudice the interests of an individual, and information whose disclosure would constitute a breach of confidence (e.g. patient data) must not be made openly available.

You must check the electronic copy of your thesis for copyrighted, personal or other sensitive material prior to submission. Failure to do so may result in this material becoming publicly visible online.

Copyright

Follow our step-by-step guide to copyright for theses to help you decide whether you need copyright permission, and find out how to arrange it.

Personal and sensitive material

Identifying photographs of individuals must be removed unless you have permission to make them available online.

Personal identifiers and contact details must be removed from your electronic thesis submission. This includes:

  • your signature on the declaration page and any others elsewhere; 
  • personal addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and other contact details

Please ensure that such material is completely removed or fully redacted – material that is hidden from view may still be accessible, for example by copying-and-pasting from the document.

Bibliographic information concerning your authorship on the title page, and material within the acknowledgements section, does not need to be removed.

Removing material or restricting access 

If certain material in your thesis cannot be made available, you can either

  1. deposit a second version of your thesis without that material, as well as the complete one (see section 3 below, Prepare your documents), or
  2. deposit the complete version only, if the material is so intrinsic to the thesis, or so widely dispersed within it, that it cannot be removed - and request an appropriate restriction on access (see section 2 below, Decide on access).
2. Decide on access

When you complete UCL's thesis Deposit Agreement Form, you will need to specify whether your thesis should be made open access immediately, or after an embargo period (delay). Embargoes on thesis should normally last no more than 12 months, but in exceptional circumstances longer embargoes are permitted. If you plan to request an embargo, please discuss the reasons with your supervisor before completing the Deposit Agreement Form, although the final decision on access conditions lies with you, as the author.

If your thesis cannot be made open access at all, you will still need to deposit a copy of it, but it will not be made openly available. 

The citation and abstract of your thesis will appear in UCL Discovery soon after deposit, even if the full text is under embargo or cannot be made available. If the abstract needs to be hidden as well, please indicate this in the Deposit Agreement Form.

Graduates who need to request an extension or other amendment to an embargo should contact the Open Access Team

Reasons for requesting an embargo

Future publication

Your thesis contains material intended for future publication (e.g. as a series of articles or monograph).

Personal data

Your thesis contains personal data, information that could prejudice the interests of an individual, or information whose disclosure would constitute a breach of confidence (e.g. patient data). This material is so intrinsic to the thesis, or so widely dispersed within it, that it is impossible to remove it.

Copyright

Your thesis contains material protected by third party copyright, that cannot be made open access. This material is so intrinsic to the thesis, or so widely dispersed within it, that it is impossible to remove it.

Commercial information

Your thesis contains sensitive information that would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of an individual or organisation, or intellectual property that may be the subject of commercial exploitation (e.g. a patent application).

Contractual restrictions

Agreements with your sponsor or thesis partners include restrictions on making your thesis available.

International relations, defence, national security, public safety

Your thesis contains material whose disclosure would be likely to adversely affect international relations, defence, national security or public safety.

Licence

By default, theses are made available in UCL Discovery under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY) licence. Other licences are available on request (see the Deposit Agreement Form).  See UCL Copyright’s guidance on Creative Commons licences for further information.

3. Prepare your documents

You need to deposit the following documents:

  1. An electronic copy of your final thesis (incorporating corrections), in PDF format
  2. Any supplementary files associated with your thesis
  3. A completed Deposit Agreement Form

You must check the electronic copy of your thesis for copyrighted, personal or other sensitive material prior to submission. Failure to do so may result in this material becoming publicly visible online.

  • If your thesis contains third-party copyrighted material that cannot be made open access (see section 1, Check copyright), you need to deposit a second version without that material, as well as the complete one. Please name the files clearly (e.g. "complete version" and "edited version").
  • If the third-party material is so intrinsic to the thesis, or so widely dispersed within it, that it cannot be removed, you need only deposit the complete version and specify that it cannot be made openly available in the Deposit Agreement Form.

All deposits will be subject to the access arrangements you specify (see section 2 above, Decide on access).

PDF conversion software is available at UCL: there is more information on the ISD webpages.

If you encounter problems uploading a large file to RPS, you can split it into smaller ones. 

4. Deposit your thesis

To deposit your thesis and Deposit Agreement Form, you need to:

  • Log in to UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS)
  • Scroll down to the "My Summary" section, click +add, then click thesis/dissertation
  • Click Skip (unless you have already added your thesis to RPS)
  • Enter these details:
    1. Relationship: (Author of)
    2. Thesis type
    3. Title
    4. Abstract
    5. Authors
    6. Awarding institution: UCL (University College London)
    7. Date awarded: [the year you expect your degree to be awarded]
    8. Language
    9. Page count: [total number of pages]
    • Optional: You can record further details, if desired, in the Additional Information section.  Please do not record the name(s) of your supervisor(s).
  • Click Save & Continue
  • Click the link to deposit, then upload your thesis, any supplementary materials, and your completed Deposit Agreement Form. Once your files are uploaded, click “Deposit my publication” to complete the process. 

If you are unable to log in to RPS, please send your files via UCL Dropbox (or an alternative file-sharing service, or e-mail) to UCL's Open Access Team.

UCL's Open Access Team will notify you via e-mail (normally within 1 working day) when your deposit is complete. If you do not receive a confirmation of receipt within this timeframe, contact the Open Access Team: your submission has not been received and your degree will not be awarded until this is resolved.

After your degree is awarded, the Open Access Team will check the files and make the thesis available according to any conditions you have specified (see section 2, Decide on access). If you have decided to allow immediate access, your thesis will be made available after your award date.

For help with depositing, or if you need to deposit files in non-PDF formats – e.g. computer programs, video/audio files or datasets – contact UCL's Open Access Team.

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global

UCL also encourages authors to deposit their theses in ProQuest's Dissertations & Theses Global database, the world's most comprehensive collection of full-text dissertations and theses. PQDTGlobal includes millions of searchable citations to dissertations and theses from 1861 to the present day, and over a million full-text dissertations for download. Over 2.1 million titles are available for purchase in print. More than 70,000 new full-text dissertations and theses are added each year. 3,000 academic institutions worldwide have access to PQDTGlobal, including UCL (see our databases list).

Submitting your thesis to PQDTGlobal allows it to be included in subject indexes such as ERIC, GeoRef, Institute of Physics (IOP), MathSciNet, MLA, SciFinder, Sociological Abstracts, and PsycINFO, increasing visibility and citations. You will also be paid a 10% royalty for sales in traditional publishing format. You will retain your copyright and the right to publish your thesis elsewhere. You can submit your thesis to ProQuest directly, at disspub@proquest.com.

More information on why and how to submit.