e-theses

Electronic submission and archiving of your thesis

From 1 October 2008, all theses submitted for examination must be submitted in electronic format, and are eligible for deposit in BURA: Brunel University Research Archive.

BURA is an online repository of research conducted at Brunel, or by Brunel University academics, and provides researchers with an opportunity to keep a permanent archive of their work and to raise individual research profiles. It is an open access repository, made available free of charge worldwide.

Copyright and intellectual property rights, research ethics, and other issues may have an impact on whether your thesis is eligible for archiving. The relevant issues may depend on the nature of your research, but should be borne in mind at the beginning of your programme.

Copyright ownership of your thesis

The author is the first owner of copyright in his/her thesis.

Depositing your thesis in BURA does not transfer copyright ownership to the University - you merely grant a perpetual non-exclusive licence to the University when you agree to deposit your thesis.

Copyright can be assigned to third parties, e.g. publishers, institutions or organisations in whole or in part, therefore it is important to ensure that you do not sign away any of your intellectual property rights unknowingly. Where your thesis is sponsored or commissioned by an external organisation or conducted on placement, you may be asked to sign a contract or confidentiality agreement, which may have implications for the future dissemination of your thesis research.

Before signing any agreements, you should consult your supervisor in the first instance and/or RSDO (Research Support and Development Office). RSDO's Contracts and IP Section who will be able to advise on the implications of contractual clauses and recommend the most suitable course of action.

The Freedom of Information Act and your thesis

Your thesis is currently subject to the Freedom of Information Act, as the University is a public authority as defined in the Act.

This means that unless your thesis meets the statutory criteria for exemption under this, or other Act of Parliament and is therefore embargoed, we must supply a copy of your thesis to anyone who requests it.

Using third party copyright material in your thesis

As part of your research, you may review and include third party copyright material in the body of your thesis or in its appendices.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you secure all necessary consents at the time you are conducting your research. These now must include permission to submit your thesis for examination electronically, as this is now the compulsory mode of submission. You must also obtain permission to include third party material in the final version archived in a public-facing open access repository. Examples of content that would require permission include company documents, film clips, images or music scores.

This is because in UK copyright law, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to control the reproduction or dissemination of their work in electronic format to the public, while print dissemination may be covered by statutory exceptions in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, under fair dealing. You may also not disseminate unpublished work in your online thesis without the explicit consent of the copyright owner.

When obtaining consent, it should be in writing, and you should obtain a warranty that the person granting consent is authorised to do so. As a rule, published material is generally owned or controlled by the publisher so copyright owners are much easier to trace and to contact. Some material may have multiple layers of copyright, eg a film may contain music, dialogue. etc which may need separate clearance if the rights are not all managed by a sole agent.

Confidential or sensitive information

In addition to third party copyright content, you may need to use sensitive data, or may wish to reproduce confidential information.

Where information is not in the public domain, extra care must be taken to secure consents, as you may breach the law of confidential information, as well as copyright law. With sensitive or personal data there may be data protection or ethical implications. Your supervisor will be able to advise further.

It may be that your thesis will need to be embargoed for a period. The initial embargo period is three years, but if appropriate it is possible to renew it. If you need to renew an embargo, you should contact the Library in advance of its expiry. Embargoed theses will be released after the expiry date.

Other intellectual property rights and your thesis

Where your thesis contains commercially exploitable designs or other content, it may not be suitable for online deposit, and may need to be embargoed.

Your supervisor will normally identify patentable content well before submission, and will recommend the best course of action.

Publishing your thesis

You may wish to publish your thesis, in whole or in part, with or without modification. This is one reason why it is important to obtain the right consents in the beginning, so that you are able to do so without delay or complications. Having permissions in place is also favoured by publishers.

Where your thesis is sponsored and you have signed contractual agreements, you may need to check that publication will not breach those contracts leaving you or the University open to legal action.

Where you publish your thesis prior to submission in whole or in part, you should disclose to your publisher, that you will be required to deposit your final thesis in the University's open access research archive.

As standard, many publishers require you to assign full copyright ownership to them, however, as a contract, it is open to negotiation, and you should try to retain your copyright ownership if possible. If your publisher is not willing to consent to you retaining copyright ownership while giving them a licence to publish, they may be willing to consider allowing you to archive your work in BURA. It is possible for work to be placed under a temporary embargo under certain conditions to allow for its commercial exploitation. See Submitting your thesis for more information on applying for an embargo.

Useful contacts and links

For further advice about these or other copyright issues, see other topics on our Copyright pages or contact the Research Librarian and Copyright Officer: copyright@brunel.ac.uk

Page last updated: Tuesday 04 February 2014