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Researcher Support

The University of Roehampton’s LibGuide for researcher support

Making your thesis available: Open Access and Copyright

Open Access is the immediate, online, availability of scholarly literature, free of charge, often coupled with the rights to use these articles in their entirety in the digital environment. Open Access increases the potential audience of your work, while still allowing you to retain copyright.

For the majority of publishers making your thesis available does not constitute prior publication and so it is unlikely to affect the ability to get work based on your thesis published in future, for example in academic journals or as a monograph. However, some publishers may take a stricter view of what constitutes publication. More information on publisher policies can be found via the Sherpa Romeo database.

Advantages of making your thesis available

There are a number of advantages to making your thesis available.

  • Increase the visibility and reach of your research. A thesis deposited in the repository will appear prominently in search engine results and will be indexed by authoritative sources (e.g. the British Library’s EThOS Service).
  • Previous research has suggested that research available open-access is more likely to be read and cited
  • A stable, long-term URL that you can use to promote your work, refer potential collaborators, employers and grant providers.
  • Track citations and downloads of your thesis.
  • Ensure long-term preservation and access.
  • Satisfy the open access requirements of funding bodies, such as RCUK.


Third party copyright

Third party copyright is content that you may use in your thesis that comes from other sources. It might be quotations or data, images, charts or graphs, that you wish to include.

Substantial use of this type of content may require permission to include in your thesis unless there is a clear statement on the work saying that it can be re-used. It will be necessary to apply an element of judgement over whether your use of third party content falls under an exception to UK copyright law based on whether it is considered “fair”. For example, the use of a single screenshot from a large website, or the use of a low resolution version of an image for the purposes of quotation, criticism and review. These decisions need to be made on a case by case basis and advice should be sought early if you feel it is not appropriate or necessary to obtain permission and wish to rely on a copyright exception.

Further information is available on the Copyright User website.

Obtaining permissions for copyright material

In order to obtain permission you will first need to identify who owns the work you wish to use. For material on a website, many pages now have a section about copyright (or terms and conditions of use).

You should not assume that if a rights owner does not respond to you then they have given permission to use their work.

If you receive permission to include  copyright protected material, you should save any correspondence with the copyright holders and indicate that permission has been received at the appropriate point in the body of your thesis.  

What if I can’t get copyright clearance for copyright material included in my thesis?

If you have taken reasonable steps but cannot gain permission to include material protected by copyright in your thesis, you will need to submit two electronic versions:

  1. The final version of your thesis.
  2. Publicly available electronic version – an edited version with all uncleared third party copyright material removed. If you do remove material from your thesis, please indicate where material has been removed using the following message: This [delete where appropriate] image/photo/screenshot/map/graph, [insert title or short description], has been removed as the copyright is owned by another organisation. The Library will preserve both copies but only make the publicly available version externally visible via Roehampton Research Explorer.

Alternatively, if you have made reasonable efforts to contact the copyright owner, we can add your thesis to Roehampton Research Explorer and make use of our take-down policy if contacted by copyright holders.

We encourage you to seek advice on copyright issues throughout the process of writing your thesis. Understanding copyright issues is important preparation for future academic publishing.

For queries regarding copyright and submitting your electronic thesis, please contact

For general copyright advice see the links below.

Useful Links


The above text is a derivative of “LSE (2016) Copyright and your thesis: a guide for research students” used under CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0.