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Restricting access to your thesis

Copies of finalised examined theses are deposited with the Library by the Research Degrees Office. The Library holds these theses in perpetuity as custodian of the thesis collection, managing access to the collection. Print theses are held in several of our libraries, accessible on request, whilst electronic theses are made available in the institutional repository Queen Mary Research Online (QMRO).

In some circumstances access to a thesis may not be appropriate, e.g. where an author is seeking subsequent publication. In such cases, an embargo provides a temporary delay to the release of the work, or sets in place controls over who can access the thesis and under what conditions. When deciding whether to embargo your thesis, the following are useful criteria to consider:


If you plan to submit your thesis, in whole or in part, for publication as a monograph; some publishers consider the publication of a thesis in an online repository as prior publication, whilst others do not.


  • Extended time is required for a concept to be brought to market.
  • A patent is applied for or awaiting application.
  • Agreements negotiated by a Research and Enterprise/Development Department for use of commercial data require a period of guaranteed confidentiality.

May cover a number of issues including but not limited to:

  • Use of material may endanger life or cause concern for the personal safety of the author.
  • Disclosure of details of animal experimentation or anthropological studies of vulnerable communities.
  • May be used to identify and target researchers and research partners.
  • The inclusion of confidential Government or security and intelligence data.

“Personal data are data which relate to a living individual who can be identified from those data or from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller. This includes any other person in respect of the individual” (Data Protection Act 1998).

Confidential data is data given in confidence or data agreed to be kept confidential, i.e. secret, between two parties that are not in the public domain such as information on business, income, health, medical details, and political opinion.

Sensitive personal data is defined in the Data Protection Act 1998 as data on a person's race, ethnic origin, political opinion, religious or similar beliefs, trade union membership, physical or mental health or condition, sexual life, commission or alleged commission of an offence, proceedings for an offence (alleged to have been) committed, disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings.


More info can be found here.


Embargoes are usually for two years in the first instance, although longer periods can be requested as necessary. During this time, the metadata only record, containing the title and abstract, can be viewable in QMRO if this is desirable. However, the full text of the thesis will not.

For print theses under embargo, the same arrangements apply; in addition, the thesis is excluded from the British Library EThOS digitisation programme.

At the end of this period, regardless of the format of the thesis, the Repository and Research Information Team will endeavour to contact researchers with regards to the removal of embargo or further extension of the embargo as appropriate. No thesis is released without the specific instruction of the author to do so; where we can elicit no response from the author, or where we fail to find up to date contact information for the author, the thesis will remain embargoed until further notice.

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