The UK Research Councils have agreed that "metadata describing the thesis should be lodged in the institution's repository as soon as possible after award and a full text version should be available within a maximum of 12 months following award". (See the RCUK Doctoral Training Grant Terms & Conditions)
Electronic theses offer a number of advantages.
For students the electronic availability of their theses considerably increases access and visibility. Usage statistics for existing thesis repositories demonstrate a high level of interest in accessing theses online and a wide range of users not limited to education but also including governmental, commercial and voluntary sectors. The statistics also show a high level of international use that was not possible when theses were limited to print and microfilm formats. In addition, students have the chance to make full use of the opportunities offered in the digital world, e.g. multimedia, links to datasets etc., should they wish to take advantage of this.
For the University, the online availability of electronic theses will permit worldwide exposure of the quality of postgraduate research being carried out at Southampton. Studies show that prospective students are likely to explore the websites of potential places of study, and are particularly keen to be able to see what work is currently being carried out.
The move to e-theses is a trend throughout the higher education in Europe and N. America. UK universities which now require submission of an e-thesis include Oxford, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Imperial and UCL.
Following the move to both electronic and print thesis submission, there should not introduce any additional work for supervisors beyond signing the 'Permission to Deposit Thesis' form at final submission (see below), however there are a number of related issues which it will be useful for you to discuss with your students:
Traditionally it has been accepted that third party copyright is not an issue with print theses, although it would be good practice to clear copyright of this material. e-theses, on the other hand, are subject to copyright law.
Your student should clear copyright for any images, graphs, diagrams, long extracts of text etc, they include in their thesis. This can include material they have already published where they have assigned copyright to the publisher.
They should not have to pay and they should not compromise the academic integrity of their thesis because they cannot get copyright clearance. If copyright cannot be cleared then the material should be removed to a restricted appendix or, if this makes a nonsense of the text, the whole the e-thesis can be embargoed.
Guidance on dealing with third-party copyright material is available from the Library.
Embargos should not normally last more than three years.
It is possible to embargo just the e-theses or both the print and e- versions.
It is possible to embargo separate appendices to the e-thesis rather than the whole thesis (this is preferable for sensitive or uncleared copyright material).
Theses can only be embargoed for the reasons outlined on the embargo page.
Embargos are agreed by the student and the supervisor who both must fill in and sign the ‘Permission to Deposit Thesis' form.
The thesis will be made publicly available at the end of the restricted period. The candidate is responsible for contacting the University if there are any extenuating circumstances which warrant an extension to the original restriction.
Embargoed e-theses will be unavailable for inter-library loan to other scholars during the period of restriction.
Abstracts are not included under embargoes. Please check if the abstract contains material which should not be released. If it does, ask the student to provide a publicly safe version of the abstract for inclusion in ePrints.
Students can deposit any associated research data in PURE. Supervisors and students will need to agree this and sign it off on the 'Permission to Deposit Form'.
Students holding EPSRC studentships have to deposit their research data under the conditions of their funding. Students holding other RCUK studentships are expected to deposit their data.
A DOI for the data can be provided on request to enable citation. Where appropriate, research data can be included in the list of accompanying material.
E-theses don't have to be the same as print thesis under current University Regulations. So an e-thesis coud have commercially sensitive or third-party copyright material moved to a separate appendix or multimedia (e.g. 3-d structural models) could be included at appropriate places in the text.
The sooner a student starts preparing for the e-theses the better. Ideally this should be done from the start of the PhD process rather than waiting until the intention to submit stage. Both Word and LateX templates following the guidelines for a University of Southampton thesis are available.
We recommend that if the student still wishes to publish from the thesis, the e-thesis is embargoed unless they know that the publisher is happy for the e-thesis to be available (some publishers object to the thesis being so publicly available pre-publication, others , e.g. Elsevier, have stated that they do not consider an e-thesis to be a prior-publication).
You should advise students that it is possible to add bibliographic information for the articles and books published from a thesis to the ePrints record. Authors wanting to add extra information to their thesis record should contact the ePrints team, email: firstname.lastname@example.org