Restricting Access to Your Thesis

Like most research institutions, the University has an open access policy on research outputs. There is an expectation that most research outputs, including research degree theses, will be made "open access" – that means that they will be made available online, free of charge, to anyone who wants to use them.

Research degree theses are made available in two ways – the printed copy of the thesis is deposited in the University Library for reference and an electronic copy is added to the Leicester Research Archive and the British Library’s Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS).

An embargo means that the University has formally restricted access to your thesis. The embargo period will not normally exceed three years and over that period limited or no public access to the thesis is permitted – the thesis is not made available in the University Library for reference nor is an electronic copy added to the Leicester Research Archive or EThOS.

When is an embargo needed?

Occasionally there are circumstances which mean that open access is not appropriate. To protect this type of material, access to these research outputs can be restricted where the University accepts that there are good reasons for doing so.

A thesis embargo may be appropriate where the thesis contains material that is:

  • commercially sensitive - in these cases an embargo can provide time for a concept to be brought to market or for more formal protection, such as a patent, to be applied for
  • ethically sensitive - in these cases an embargo can provide time for ethical sensitivities to lessen where the thesis includes material relating to an identifiable individual, though situations of this type should be avoided as far as possible and issues relating to publication of results considered as part of the original ethical approval of the research

Some research students may also have concerns as to whether adding an electronic copy of their thesis to the Leicester Research Archive may harm their ability to subsequently publish their work commercially. Normally this is not the case and studies have shown that making work available through a repository like the Leicester Research Archive can in fact help secure a publishing contract.

Research students who think that they may need to request an embargo are encouraged to discuss this with their supervisory team as early as possible.

What does the embargo cover?

The thesis embargo may cover the electronic copy only or both the electronic copy and the print copy.

If the request is made on the grounds of concerns relating to subsequent publication, it is expected that an embargo applying to the the electronic copy only will be sufficient. If the request is made on other grounds, an embargo applying to both the electronic copy and the print copy may be requested.

The maximum embargo period is three years. Requests for an embargo period of more than three years will not be approved.

Requesting an Embargo

Embargo requests will be considered by the Graduate Dean who will give you written notice of her decision. If the embargo is approved, you should retain a copy of the approval notice as you will need to bring this with you when you make the first submission of your thesis to the Graduate School Office. 

Research students are required to provide with their request confirmation from their supervisory team that an embargo is appropriate.

Where the embargo is being requested on the grounds that it would harm the research student's ability to later publish their work, the request should include supporting evidence such as a letter from their publisher or an extract from the publisher's terms and conditions taken from the Sherpa-Romeo Website.

A request for an embargo should be made to the Graduate School Office on or before the date at which your thesis is submitted for examination - please complete and submit the Word Embargo Request Form.

Please note that even if an embargo has been approved, you must still submit an electronic copy of the final version of your thesis - this will then be stored securely until the end of the embargo period.

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