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Your Research Thesis

This page will provide information on

  • Depositing a research thesis onto ORCA
  • Copyright queries and licences
  • Benefits of Open Access
  • Embargoing the thesis for a limited period
  • Open Access requirements and future publishing
  • Depositing the thesis

    Cardiff University requires the final version of all research degree theses to be deposited in the University's institutional repository, ORCA. The final degree will not be awarded until Academic Registry receives confirmation that the thesis has successfully been deposited into ORCA, together with the rest of the paperwork from the Convenor of the Examining Board in each School. The full text of the thesis will be openly available via ORCA and the British Library’s thesis service EthOS either immediately upon upload or following the expiry of an agreed embargo period.

    Having research theses openly available via ORCA is in line with the University’s commitment to Open Access (OA) as outlined in the University Open Access publications policy which recognises the social and economic benefits associated with free access to academic research. The contents of Cardiff University theses are freely available for personal research and study, education and not-for-profit purposes.

    A guide to depositing theses into ORCA can be downloaded here. Further information, guidance and forms related to submitting your thesis for examination are available from the student intranet.

    Copyright queries and licences

    Third party copyright

    The author needs to make sure that they have made best efforts to seek permission to include any third-party copyright material in the electronic version of the thesis. Third party copyright refers to copyright material other than your own, and includes extracts of texts from publications such as books and journals, or illustrations such as images, maps, photographs, diagrams, tables etc.

    While you may be permitted to use such materials in the thesis for examination purposes, you do not necessarily have permission to make these materials freely available online. However, "insubstantial" extracts of third-party copyright material can be included under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act 1994, if they appear with a proper reference to the original source. "Insubstantial" amounts generally considered acceptable for inclusion is, for example, a 400-word extract from a book or journal article. You will always need to get written permission from the copyright owner for any images, photographs, diagrams, charts, tables etc. that have been directly copied from another publication.

    If you have been unable to gain all the necessary permissions, you will need to decide if you wish to make an edited version which excludes the third-party material publicly available. In these cases, the material will need to be removed and replaced with a statement that confirms this, e.g. "this image has been removed by the author for copyright reasons".

    In exceptional circumstances, where copyright law requires the redaction of significant parts of a thesis, the thesis may be held by the University and the National Library of Wales in print form and not stored in the repository. For more information about this route and to apply for a Library Deposit, see the intranet pages.

    Further advice on copyright can be found in the the intranet guide on Copyright and your Ethesis or by contacting the Library Copyright Team at

    Your copyright

    By uploading a copy of the thesis to ORCA, you are not transferring any copyright or intellectual property. You still retain ownership of the copyright of your work.

    Creative Commons licences

    You have the option of applying a Creative Commons licence to your thesis. Creative Commons (CC) is an international non-profit organisation that provides free licences for authors to use when making their work publicly available. This licence provides protection for the author of the work and clarifies the uses that others may make of the work without them needing to get in touch with the author.

    There are six core licences of varying degrees of permission. The most applied licence for a thesis is the Creative Commons-Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works licence, but you can choose another if you prefer. This flowchart is a useful and easy guide on choosing the most appropriate licence for your work.

    If you do wish to apply a CC licence, please inform the person making the deposit for you or contact the repository team at

    Benefits of Open Access

    There are many benefits to having your work fully and freely available. By making your work available in full immediately, it increases the visibility and exposure of your work, and can help you build your research profile. This can lead to higher citation counts, increased potential for international and interdisciplinary collaboration and funding, and attention from publishers.

    Studies such as the Springer White Paper The OA effect indicate that your research is more likely to be read, cited and recieve social media attention if it available OA. Hosting your thesis on a repository such as ORCA also enables it to have a stable URL that you can use to promote and share your work and allows you to track citations and usage statistics. It ensures you comply with the OA requirements of research funding bodies and allows long term preservation of your work. It also ensures you are better protected against any plagiarism of your work as internet-based software (for example, Turnitin) can be used to detect similarities.

    Embargoing the thesis for a limited period.

    Embargoes for theses are managed by Registry.

    You may decide to embargo access to your thesis for a limited period. You can have a 12 month ‘opt-in’ bar on access on the grounds of contractual restrictions; commercial potential; sensitive information; impending publication and intent to publish. This is the most common embargo length and is simple to arrange. Information and the relevant form are available on the Student intranet.

    You can also apply for a longer bar of up to 5 years on the following grounds: contractual restrictions; commercial potential; sensitive information; impending publication. Applications for a longer bar must all be accompanied by a statement from the Head of School and a clear justification for the requested duration.

    Open Access requirements and future publishing

    A common worry with having an electronic copy of the thesis available online is whether this will have a negative impact on future publication. Uploading your thesis to an institutional repository doesn’t constitute prior publication and does not automatically exclude it from being published in book form. Many publishers recognise that a book based on a thesis would undergo extensive revision, so the original thesis being available is not an issue. It is always advisable to contact each publisher directly to discuss electronic thesis availability and embargo length. Many publishers have no blanket policy but will look at each case on an individual basis. More information on publishers' policies and open access is available on the Cambridge University Library webpages.

    If you require further advice or information please contact the ORCA Team at