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Access to your thesis

Confidential or restricted material and delays in public access

After examination and approval of the final version of your thesis, you are required to lodge a copy of your thesis with the University library’s Sydney eScholarship Repository. This is a pre-condition of being eligible to be awarded your degree.

However, if your thesis contains confidential or restricted material, you’ll need to apply for approval for restricted access to your thesis. If the confidential material is only in your appendix, you can apply to include a restricted appendix. If your thesis or appendix is restricted, access will be delayed for a number of months following lodgement.

Examples of where you might need to apply for restricted access include if your work has involved collaborations with industry partners, is dependent on intellectual property that could be misused by others, or includes content that may put your interests at risk.

If your research area includes working with confidential or restricted information, or you think your thesis may contain such material, you should talk to your supervisor early in your candidature.

Restricted access to your thesis in the library or a restricted appendix to your thesis need to be approved. You should contact either:

  • your dean, to get approval to delay access for up to 6 months.
  • the chair of the graduate studies committee of the academic board, to get approval for a longer period of up to 18 months.

The last opportunity for you to indicate that your thesis contains information that may need to have restricted access is when you complete your notice of intent to submit. Changes cannot be made during or after your examination. If you are close to completion, you should start this process as soon as possible.

See also: Submitting your thesis

Levels of access

There are two levels of access available for your thesis in the repository – open access and local access:

  1. Open access is available freely to the public.
  2. Local access means only staff and current students of the University can access your thesis using their UniKey login. Researchers and students from outside the University can also request access onsite at one of the libraries.

If your thesis includes any copyright material owned by others, you’ll need to check the terms of use to clarify whether you need to seek permission from the copyright holder to make that material available. You may find that the content was provided under an open license or a Creative Commons license that permits inclusion without further permission. If not, you’ll need to obtain the requisite permissions to be able to make your thesis available open access. If you do not have permission, you’ll need to choose the local access option to avoid infringing copyright.

Even if your thesis only includes your own published articles or book chapters you’ll still need to check the permissions of each article to make sure you can make your thesis available open access. You can do this through RightsLink® by following the instructions for theses that include published articles. You may find that you need to get written permission from your publishers to make your thesis available open access. If your publisher refuses, you’ll need to make it available local access only.

See also: Intellectual property for HDR students

If you need further advice in this area, SUPRA can assist you through our Legal or Advocacy Services.



This information is current as at November 2020 and is intended as a guide to the law as it applies to people who live in or are affected by the law as it applies in NSW. It does not constitute legal advice.

The SUPRA office is closed – but you can still get help!

To help protect the health of our community during COVID-19 our Postgraduate Advocacy Service, Legal Service and council are working from home. We are working to full capacity and are providing timely and accurate information, advice and support.