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Theses: Info. for Supervisors

Information about theses at Southampton: thesis templates, guidance on e-theses, how to find theses

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What you need to know about e-theses as a supervisor

It is recommended that supervisors should discuss the 'Permission to Deposit Thesis' form with their students when they are about to complete their Intention to submit research thesis form.  This will assist the student in preparing for the final submission of their thesis once awarded.  Where this is not possible, conversations should take place around the time of the viva voce. There are a number of issues that it will be useful for you to discuss with your students:

  • Copyright
  • Embargoes
  • Associated research data/research notes
  • Format

Helping you help your student

The copyright of the thesis lies with the student. However most theses contain material which was not originally created by the student, that is third-party copyright material.

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 redacted in the pubicly available version of the thesis. In those cases, students should be advised to deposit a two copies of their thesis: one complete and one redacted, clearly marked (see thesis deposit - redacted material for more information)

Guidance on dealing with third-party copyright material is available from the Library.

University of Southampton Regulations state that embargos should not normally last more than three years.  UKRI expectations are that theses they fund are open as early as possible.  UKRI state that "… a full text version should be available within a maximum of 12 months following award.” (Research Councils UK (2024) Terms and conditions of Research Council Training Grants TGC 11.5)

Unless there are good reasons (academic, legal or commercial) a thesis should be made available as soon as possible after confirmation of the award.

Theses can only be embargoed for the reasons outlined on the embargo page.

Redacted material

Sometimes a candidate is unable to get permission to include third-party copyright material in the openly available thesis. In those cases, students should be advised to deposit a two copies of their thesis: one complete and one redacted, clearly marked (see thesis deposit - redacted material for more information)

Process

Embargoes are agreed by the student, the supervisor and Faculty Head of Graduate School, and recorded during the final submission process in PGR Manager.

Embargoes of longer than three years or extensions to embargoes to take them beyond three years must also be approved by the Director of the Doctoral College.

End of the embargo

The thesis will automatically be made publicly available at the end of the restricted period. The Library does not check with the supervisor of condidte before the embargo is lifted. It is the candidate's responsibility to contact the University if the embargo needs to be extended.

Once a thesis has been publicly released, it is not possible to apply an embargo.

Embargo extensions

Graduates requesting any extension to an embargo should in the first instance be directed to contact eprints@soton.ac.uk stating the reason for requesting the extension. They should do this no later than 20 working days before the embargo ends.

Library staff will collect advice and information from the graduate, Faculty Graduate School Office and/or supervisor as required to support the extension. Once collected, the information along with details of the thesis will be forwarded to the Director of the Doctoral College for a decision.

Interlibrary loans

Embargoed theses will be unavailable for inter-library loan to other scholars during the period of restriction.

Abstracts

Abstracts and the associated metadata (name, title etc)   are not included under embargoes. If the examined abstract contains sensitive material which should be embargoed, please ask the student to provide an edited abstract for public release.

All researchers, including postgraduate research students, are required to follow the University Research Data Management Policy with regard to the deposit of research data. They can deposit any associated research data and research materials in PURE. Supervisors and students will need to agree this and sign it off on the 'Permission to Deposit Form'. Note: Restrictions on access to research data, where required, should be appropriate to the data. For the avoidance of doubt, section 51 Regulations for Research Degrees concerning embargo length does not apply.

See the Research Data Management and the Data Plan for your PhD pages for more information on the University's research data policies and a link to Southampton's PhD DMP template. All postgraduate research students are automatically enrolled on Data Management Plans for Doctoral Students Blackboard course.

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.

Please see our data deposit videos at https://library.soton.ac.uk/researchdata/datasetvideos

The video Introduction for Supervisors to the Data Management Plan for Doctoral Students is availble to walk you through the process.

There is also a guidance document

The publicly available thesis doesn't have to be the same as final examined thesis under current University Regulations.  So a public thesis could have commercially sensitive or third-party copyright material removed or multimedia (e.g. 3-d structural models) could be included at appropriate places in the text. If the public thesis is diffferent the final examined thesis, both versions of the thesis must be deposited by the candidate.

The sooner a student starts preparing for the electronic 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 and students should be encouraged to use these rater than making up their own template.

The final deposited version of the thesis should a PDF/A-3a. See our thesis deposit guide: archival PDF for more information.

We recommend that if the student still wishes to publish from the thesis, the thesis is embargoed unless they know that the publisher is happy for the thesis to be available (some publishers object to the thesis being so publicly available pre-publication especially for monographs, while others , e.g. Elsevier and Springer Nature, have stated that they do not consider an e-thesis to be a prior-publication).

Embargoes are normally no more than three years in length, although they can be longer if there is adequate justification. All embargoes need to be agreed by the Faculty Director of the Graduate School. 

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: eprints@soton.ac.uk

Any embargo extensions must be agreed by the Director of the Doctoral College, therefore we recommend that realistic embargoes are set in the first place. Any embargo extensions requests for publication pending will require evidence that a publication is in process. Extensions should be requested via eprints@soton.ac.uk at least 20 working days before the end of the embargo. Theses that have already been made publicly available will not normally be re-embargoed.

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.

Southampton was one of the first universities in the UK to mandate electronic deposit of theses.

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) have agreed that: 

"In the case of Ph.D. theses funded by Research Councils, metadata describing the thesis should be lodged in the institution's repository as soon as possible after award and a fulltext version should be available within a maximum of 12 months following award. It is expected that metadata in institutional repositories will be compatible with the metadata core set recommended by the ETHOS e-thesis online service." (UKRI Doctoral Training Grant Terms & Conditions)