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E-theses - Restricting Access

From October 2011, theses deposited by successful PhD candidates will be made available within an online repository unless you indicate that you would prefer this not to happen. The following explains the circumstances in which you ought to consider not allowing your thesis to be made available in the repository.

  1. Third-party copyright
  2. Personal data
  3. Sensitive information other than personal data
  4. Considering publication of research

1. Your thesis contains a large volume of third-party copyright material that you do not have permission to make available online.

See the guidance on Copyright and E-theses.

2. Your thesis contains personal data relating to individuals who have not consented to allowing their information to be made available online.

Ideally, you should have considered issues such as this at an early stage with your supervisor. There is guidance on the use of personal data in research on the SOAS website.

If possible:

  • avoid including such data in your thesis;
  • consider whether your arguments could be made using anonymised data;
  • if you must include personal data, consider whether it could be included in an appendix to your thesis so that the main body of your thesis could be made available.

If none of these things is possible, you should refuse to allow your thesis to be included in the online repository. The hard copy of your thesis will also be restricted. You must indicate which parts of your thesis are affected so that these can be withheld if your thesis is the subject of a Freedom of Information request or Inter-Library Loan request. If possible, you should also indicate when the data will cease to be sensitive (the general assumption is that personal data can be disclosed 100 years after the birth of an individual).

3. Your thesis contains data that is otherwise sensitive

In some cases, theses might contain information which, if disclosed, would cause prejudice to other organisations or individuals. For example:

  • information that is commercially sensitive;
  • information relating to security matters;
  • information provided in confidence.

Again, if you refuse to allow your thesis to be made available online for these reasons, you should explain which parts of your thesis are affected and what harm you think the disclosure would cause. If possible, as with personal information, it would be helpful if you could indicate when these sensitivities will cease, as though you may still not wish your thesis to be made available online, restrictions can then be lifted on the hard copy of your thesis. As a guide, commercial sensitivities are unlikely to remain sensitive for longer than 30 years.

4. Publication of your thesis

An embargo is available if you are concerned that inclusion of your thesis in the SOAS e-repository will prevent you from finding a publisher for your thesis. This will last automatically for three years if you select this option on the form. If you wish to extend this period, you should contact the Library for details.