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Library Research Support: Your Thesis

Support for Research Staff & Research Students

Overview - Your Thesis

PGR students and doctoral supervisors may use this guide to find further information on the following topics:

  • Finding and accessing existing masters and doctoral theses
  • The submission process for Doctoral Theses at Durham
  • Guidance on copyright and including copyrighted material in your thesis.
  • Guidance and advice on open access and publication of your thesis.

Remember that you can search for, access and download many Doctoral and Masters (Research) theses from our theses repository, Durham eTheses.

Finding Existing Theses

Finding theses and dissertations

Submitting your thesis

Submitting your thesis

e-theses deposit guide

eTheses deposit guide

Restricting access

Restricting Access to your thesis

Things to Consider: Copyright & Publishing Your Thesis

Durham University "is committed to sharing the findings of its world-class research as widely as possible to enhance its use and impact within the academic and research community and more widely within society." This aims to reduce the barriers, where appropriate, to allowing researchers, including prospective doctoral students, to read and build upon your research.

Durham University Open Access Policy

Open Access and your thesis

PhD students are required to deposit a PDF of their thesis in Durham e-Theses, the University's open access e-theses repository. Durham e-Theses contains:

  • the full-text of Durham University Higher Degree theses passed after 1 October 2009
  • an extensive collection of PhD, MPhil and Research Masters dissertations from 1899 onwards.

Theses in Durham e-Theses are available alongside other UK theses through the British Library's eThos service, the open access aggregator service and other services.

Things to consider

  • You are likely to have read or used other doctoral thesis during the course of your own research.
    • These will have been theses and dissertations made open access by their authors through various sources such as those listed on our finding theses pages.
  • Your thesis is also expected to meet the requirements of Durham University's Open Access Policy
  • You may also be required to meet the expectations and requirements of any organisation which has funded your doctoral research (e.g. the UK Research Councils) which expect your thesis to be freely accessible.
  • You will need to balance these requirements with:
    • your own career intentions (e.g. publishing your thesis)
    • any legal or ethical implications for the content included in your thesis (e.g. copyright, data protection, patent applications).
  • This might include temporarily restricting access to your thesis, or providing access to a redacted version of your thesis through our repository where commercial IP or ethical considerations may warrant this.

Copyright and your thesis

Durham University's Open Access Policy requires that all Durham theses (with a few exceptions in extreme cases) will be required to be made open access; freely available to all with an internet connection.

Whilst authors of doctoral and masters theses may benefit from some exemptions to copyright for the purpose of examination, it is important that the copy of the thesis made available via Durham e-Theses complies with all copyright requirements - in particular where you have included third party copyright material within your thesis (photographs, maps, site-plans).

When depositing, you can choose from a range of licences (including Creative Commons licences, which offer options clearly indicating what uses can be made of your thesis, and which support researchers who may be commercially funded) and copyright statements to deposit the work under.

Further information can be found at:

Publishing your thesis

Aiming to develop the research presented in your thesis for publication, either in one or more journal articles or as a monograph, is something you may wish to consider as a means to raise the profile of your work, or may be a common "next step" on the academic career path in your discipline.

You should aim to discuss your aspirations and plans with your supervisor or department in the first instance, but we have provided some additional questions you should think about on this page.


Questions to consider

These are a few questions you should consider if you are thinking of publishing part or all of your thesis.

  1. Do you want to publish your thesis as a monograph, or would this have greater reach as one (or more likely, several) journal articles?
    • be aware of disciplinary differences and speak with your supervisor and examiners for advice
    • a monograph can take several years to be published, but may be the expected norm for a career in your academic discipline.
    • it may be preferable to have a number of strong peer-reviewed journal articles on your CV however, when applying for jobs.
    • some publishers may support publication of a chapter as an article as a precursor for rewriting for publication as a monograph, where this might raise the profile of the author or the research - but this should be discussed with the publisher as consideration of prior publication may vary.
  2. Do you own the copyright to all the content in your thesis?
    • if not (for example, third party copyright images, maps, diagrams) you may not be able to include these in a published format with out seeking permission or a licence to publish from the rights holders.
  3. How much extra work will this require, and how will you balance that against other commitments (finding a job, postdoctoral research, teaching, family)
    • this may impact upon your choice of publication format
    • it is very rare that a publisher well accept a thesis for publication as a monograph without substantial adaptation
    • your thesis was written for examination, essentially to persuade three examiners (who are likely to be experts int he relevant field) of its unique contribution to research and its scholarly credentials
    • a monograph being published by a commercial publisher will need to demonstrate an appeal to a wider audience with different levels of expertise, and offer commercial potential for the publisher in most cases.
  4. If you do need to adapt or re-work your thesis, can you still access and re-use the data collected or generated from your doctoral research?
  5. How will access to your thesis impact upon any discussions with a publisher?
    • Durham University's Open Access policy expects your thesis to meet the requirements of the University's Open Access Policy.
    • If your doctoral research was funded, the research funder may require you to make your thesis accessible.
    • If your thesis will be accessible prior to any publication date of content from your thesis, you should make sure your publisher is aware of this and check their policies around theses and pre-publication. See the 'Publishers and Open Access Theses' tab for further information.
  6. You may be approached by a publisher who indicates they are interested in publishing your research.

Publishers and open access theses

One reason often given for wanting to restrict access to your thesis is that you as the author wish to publish your thesis in another format, and a publisher may consider this as pre-publication. This is an important factor to consider, especially if it is a norm within your discipline to publish your thesis as the next step in pursuing your academic career. You should discuss this with your supervisor, and approach publishers at the earliest appropriate moment to identify any concerns they might have. Please also consider the additional guidance below.

Committee on Publication Ethics (CoPE)

Many publishers are members of CoPE, including Sage, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, Elsevier and Royal Society Publishing. CoPE's policies on Intellectual Property for members to adhere to states that:

"Policies should be clear on what counts as prepublication that will preclude consideration. What constitutes plagiarism and redundant/overlapping publication should be specified." CoPE Policy on Intellectual Property

CoPE are currently consulting members as to best practice approaches to take, with the General Advice included in their March 2017 discussion paper indicating:

"Where a thesis (or a thesis chapter) contains otherwise unpublished work, such as the first description of an experiment or an original synthesis of an area of academic study it should NOT be considered prior publication. That is, it is acceptable for the work, or parts of the work, contained within the thesis to be submitted as a manuscript to a journal for publication or as a monograph to a publisher for publication. This condition applies even if the thesis is freely available via a university’s repository with or without the application of a license such as one from Creative Commons, which allows reuse." CoPE: Discussion document on best practice for issues around theses publishing (March 2017)

Examples of Publisher approaches to open access theses


"Elsevier welcomes submissions from authors and will consider these for publication where work has not previously been published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. Elsevier does not view the following prior uses of a work as prior publication:

  • Publication in the form of an abstract
  • Publication as an academic thesis
  • Publication as an electronic preprint"

Elsevier policy on pre-publication (Jan 2016)


"Palgrave Macmillan will consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis including those that have been made publicly available according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification. Prospective authors should bear in mind that every PhD thesis will need to undergo rigorous revision in order to be published as a monograph with our press."

Palgrave Macmillan guidance (Sep 2020)


"Most dissertations and theses posted in institutional repositories will be considered for publication, except where they are "the same or substantially the same as any previously published work"."

Sage policy on prior publication (July 2018)


"The following types of “prior publication” do not present cause for concerns about duplicate or redundant publication:

  • Abstracts and posters presented during sessions at conferences.
  • Results presented at meetings (for example, to inform investigators or participants about findings).
  • Results in databases and clinical trials registries (data without interpretation, discussion, context or conclusions in the form of tables and text to describe data/ information).
  • Dissertations and theses in university archives.

Wiley Best Practice Guidelines on Publishing Ethics (July 2018)


Durham e-Theses

PhD students are required to deposit a PDF of their thesis in Durham e-Theses, the University's open access e-theses repository. Durham e-Theses contains:

  • the full-text of Durham University Higher Degree theses passed after 1 October 2009
  • an extensive collection of PhD, MPhil and Research Masters dissertations from 1899 onwards.

Theses in Durham e-Theses are available alongside other UK theses through the British Library's eThos service, the open access aggregator service and other services.

Embargoes and restricting access to your thesis

Should you have reason to place an embargo on your thesis in Durham e-Theses, please download, complete and email the Restricting Access to your Thesis form to the Graduate School at Your request must be authorised by both your primary Supervisor and Departmental Director of Postgraduate Research.

Full guidance can be found on here or can be downloaded as a pdf as below.

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