Information for Supervisors

Introduction

From October 2011, students registering for research degrees at Lancaster University are required to submit one print and one electronic copy of their thesis. This change to the regulations was agreed at Senate in June 2011. It applies to the following degrees: PhD, MD, DClinPsy and MPhil. The change does not affect dissertations produced as part of the requirements of taught Masters' degrees, nor to undergraduate dissertations.

Theses are made available online through the University Institutional Repository, Lancaster EPrints and the British Library's EThOS service. They are freely available and can be found through search engines.

Many UK universities already require the electronic deposit of doctoral theses, and have well-established collections. Other universities are working towards implementing an electronic theses policy.

Lancaster graduates who are not required to submit their theses electronically should be encouraged to do so.

The role of supervisors

With the introduction of electronic theses you should be aware of issues which your students may raise. These may include:

Restricting access to a thesis (embargo): The electronic version of a thesis is normally publicly available online. While this offers many advantages to the student, there are a number of reasons why it might not be appropriate for a thesis to be available online straight away. Students therefore have the option of asking for access to be restricted for a limited period (normally five years maximum). We have more information about embargoes. The Head of Department must countersign any request to restrict access and the embargo is approved by the Student Registry.

Copyright: Electronic theses introduce a new element of complexity into the copyright regime for theses, because of third-party copyright. This covers material such as maps, photographs, reproductions of paintings or long extracts of text which is not the work of the student. Historically it has been accepted within UK higher education that students may include third party copyright material in their thesis without asking permission of the copyright holder. This is because print theses are unpublished documents produced for the purpose of examination. However, when a thesis is made available online, it is considered to be "communication to the public", and therefore published. This means that in order to make a thesis available online permission has to be obtained for any third party copyright material included. We have a full explanation of the procedures. Supervisors are unlikely to get involved in this process, but it may be useful to discuss the issue with your students if they are likely to include a significant amount of third-party copyright material in their thesis.

Lancaster University thesis regulations

You can find the full official Lancaster University regulations on theses in the latest edition of the Manual of Academic Regulations and Procedures, which is often referred to as MARP . You should use the version of MARP in force at the time when the student registered.