Open Access and Doctoral Theses

Universities generally now require that e-versions of doctoral theses are deposited in their online repositories and made available as open access. This is also a requirement of many funders.

As requirements vary the general advice is that policies of publishers, individual journals and funders need to be checked and advice sought from the institution where the thesis will be deposited. 

UKRIO has compiled a list of resources to aid the process.

Guidelines and Discussion Documents

  • Guidance from the University of Kent entitled ‘Copyright, Open Access and your thesis’: Brussels (
  • A list of publisher’s policies relating to articles previously published in theses, and policies on accepting journal submissions from work that first appeared in an author’s already released thesis :  (note: page was last updated September 8, 2023)
  • A blog post from UCL Centre for Doctoral Eduction entitled ‘A question that has no easy answers – or perhaps it does?’ written by Nazlin Bhimani, on the 3rd April 2019. Deciding whether to make your thesis open access or impose an embargo. The blog includes a table of pros and cons of imposing a thesis embargo:
  • A chapter which talks about causes of anxiety a PhD student may face when deciding to make their thesis open access: Cirasella, J., & Thistlethwaite, P. (2017). Open access and the graduate author: A dissertation anxiety manual. In K. L. Smith & K. A. Dickson (Eds.), Open access and the future of scholarly communication: Implementation (pp. 203-224). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • A downloadable board game called ‘The Publishing Trap’.  ‘The Publishing Trap is a board game from the UK Copyright Literacy team that allows participants to explore the impact of scholarly communications choices and discuss the role of open access in research by following the lives of four researchers – from doctoral research to their academic legacies.’
  • Keeping your thesis legal. A useful guidance document from the University of Aberdeen: Fuggen033.pdf (

Webinars and Videos

  • Five useful videos from Cambridge University entitled ‘My thesis, open access and me: experiences of submitting a digital PhD thesis at the University of Cambridge’.  Cambridge doctoral candidates and graduates talk about open access and their PhD theses:

Last revised January 2024. 


Please note that this list of resources is not intended to be exhaustive and should not be seen as a substitute for advice from suitably qualified persons. UKRIO is not responsible for the content of external websites linked to from this page. If you would like to seek advice from UKRIO, information on our role and remit and on how to contact us is available here.

UKRIO would like to thank our Advisory Board and other volunteers for their help in putting this list together.