Research theses

Guidance on archiving a thesis on the Discovery Portal, restricting access, and copyright.

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The University of Dundee requires that following final examination, and including any amendments, a digital version of your thesis should be archived in the University's institutional repository Discovery.

Thesis Deposit Agreement (TDA)

Prior to archiving, a Thesis Deposit Agreement (TDA) form needs to be completed by the student in collaboration with their supervisor. Failure to do so may delay the validation of the thesis.

Depositing PhD and research masters theses in Discovery

PhD and Research Masters post-graduates are required to deposit, for archiving, a digital copy of the final version of their thesis. This process should be completed after the post-graduate has received email confirmation from Registry that their thesis has been accepted to the satisfaction of the examiners.

Please complete this process at least three working days before the deadline set by Registry in their email confirmation.

  1. Go to the Discovery
  2. Click on sign into your profile under Discovery Research Portal.
  3. Accept the terms and conditions and the email settings. You should now see your Discovery profile page.
  4. Click on the Add New button and a new window will appear.
  5. Click on Student Thesis and choose the appropriate type. ie Doctoral or Master’s Thesis.
  6. Click on the appropriate qualification type and the thesis form will open.

Work through the form, completing the details as required.

Note: The main text file should be in pdf format. If you have requested an embargo, you must enter the embargoed until date and an embargo reason, as detailed on your TDA. You should also ensure that the licence selected matches that of the TDA.

Once the form is completed, change the status to For Validation and click on the Save button. Once this has been selected and saved, you cannot go back to make changes. Any amendments should be raised with the Discovery Team (

Validation. LLC Research Services staff will validate your thesis, usually within 3 working days. Once completed an email confirming validation will be sent to the student, their supervisor and Student Records. The supervisor must respond, confirming that any embargo requirements are appropriate.

A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) will be assigned to the thesis but could take up to a week to become fully registered. The identifier is unique to the thesis and should be used whenever the work is cited.

Restricting access to a thesis

Where it is not suitable for a thesis to be made available to the public an embargo may be requested.

Students will be asked to provide a reason for placing an embargo and should do so in consultation with their supervisor. Valid reasons for using an embargo:

  • Intent to publish
  • Already published
  • On-going research
  • Commercial exploitation
  • Patent pending
  • 3rd party copyright issues
  • National security or political reasons
  • Content contains confidential information
  • Request by sponsor of research

Students should also provide a length of embargo, generally of between 1 to 5 years. The supervisor will be contacted 8 weeks prior to the embargo coming to an end and given an opportunity to extend the restriction to access, if required. 

Freedom of information requests

The Library and Learning Centre will endeavour to honour any requests made for an embargo. However, should a request be made during the embargo period, the maintenance of the restriction with require justification in line with the exemptions from disclosure in the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOI(S)A). 

Potential exemptions from disclosure

The following are examples of exemptions that could be used to maintain an embargo on a thesis (in whole or in part) if necessary. This list is not exhaustive and is provided solely for information. Each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Secretary of the University, further to guidance from the Records Manager & Information Compliance Officer.

  • Where information will be published in no more than twelve weeks (and where the intention to publish existed/was documented prior to the request being received).
  • Where the release of the information would cause significant harm to an ongoing programme of research and where the results of the research programme will be published.
  • Where the release of the information would cause significant negative impact to the commercial interests of the University or its partners or where information constitutes a trade secret.
  • Where the release of the information would constitute an actionable breach of confidence.
  • Where the release of the information would breach the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.    

In most instances, unless an agreement has been signed indicating otherwise, copyright ownership of the final thesis lies with the author i.e. the post-graduate. It is strongly advised that you clearly state ownership of the thesis by either applying an All Rights Reserved Statement or by selecting a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND licence. You can do this by selecting the appropriate option on the Thesis Deposit Agreement.

Supervisors and their students should discuss the issues surrounding third party copyright to ensure they are aware of the difference between publishing their work online and submitting their work for examination.

This involves materials included within a thesis that may have originated with a third party. For example:

  • maps
  • tables and diagrams
  • patented materials
  • sections taken from published works
  • photographs of art works
  • long quotations
  • photocopies or scans of historic documents
  • photographs not taken by the author of the thesis

Permissions must be obtained from the rights holder before reproducing these works in a thesis published online.

This is not the case for the version of the thesis submitted for example. Copyright law allows for the use of such material for the purposes of 'criticism and review'. For guidance on what is generally acceptable to publishers, in terms of re-use of material in a published academic work, look at the following guidelines:

NOTE: Third party copyright clearance is the responsibility of the thesis author. The Library and Learning Centre does not check and the University does not take responsibility for material reproduced within a thesis that infringes the copyright of a third party. We do, however, operate an immediate take-down policy should we be informed that third-party copyright has been infringed.

Where a copyright fee is demanded by a rights holder then University does not require the author to pay a fee in order to make material available online: An abridged version of a thesis can be accepted and made publicly available. The final full version must also be submitted but will be permanently embargoed.

Unlike submission for examination, archiving electronic copy of a thesis to an online repository is regarded as publishing. Open access is given to the public when a thesis is made available through the University repository and as such all sensitive material, such as personal and confidential data and commercially sensitive information, must be removed or anonymized prior to its deposit. Alternatively the thesis can be placed under an embargo thus restricting access to it.