Content which cannot be published

The final copy of your thesis which you submit for academic assessment can contain any kind of information. This 'full' copy must be deposited with the library. However, if this copy contains any kind of information that cannot be published (see below) you must also create and deposit a redacted copy, which can be shared.

Any documents you deposit which cannot be shared will be stored securely in Pure but not made publicly available. Please ensure that your redacted version has REDACTED at the beginning of the file name so that it is clear which version is which. 

Examples of information which cannot be published

  • People’s personal details such as names or addresses
  • Content which belongs to someone else and which you do not have the right to publish e.g. data which you have paid to access under the condition that you do not share it
  • Your signature on the Author's Declaration page

This is a non-exhaustive list and, as the author, you are best placed to judge whether or not your thesis contains any information which should not be published. This might be information which relates to religious, ethnic or political sensitivities. If in doubt please contact the Library for advice.

Where there is commercially sensitive content, including if you wish to make a patent application, or if you wish to have more time to prepare for publication, you may wish to request a deferring access to your thesis. You would not submit a redacted version in those cases.

What if my thesis does contain information which cannot be published?

The simplest thing to do it to remove the information after your thesis has been submitted for academic assessment. You should signify where information has been removed by replacing it with the word ‘Redacted’. You may also wish to give further information, such as the reason for the redaction. Other options will depend on the type of information you’re dealing with. You should replace content with a text box of the same size to retain page ordering.

Image Franz & P CC BY 2.0

If your thesis contains information about living people, and you believe that removing the information entirely would devalue your thesis, you could explore other options, such as pseudonymisation or the aggregation of variables. For further information see: Anonymisation: managing data protection risk code of practice

If information cannot be published because you do not have the permissions necessary to do so, you could seek permission from the rights holder. The most common example of this is material which is in copyright. We provide a separate guide to copyright and theses .

If your thesis contains information which cannot be published straight away but could be published at some future date, such as information to support a commercial patent, you can request a deferral of access. This is a finite delay to publication. To request a deferral contact your supervisor, please see Deferring access to your thesis.

The final option is to request your thesis not be published as an Open Access document at all. Requests of this nature will be considered on a case by case basis. To request an exemption from publication you will need to contact your supervisor at the earliest opportunity.

Further guidance on identifiable information 

It’s very unlikely that your thesis will contain the personal details of living people but if it does then these must be removed before it can be published. This is the law, as set out in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The exception is when a person has given you written consent to identify them in your publication.

Direct identifiers such as names and addresses are easy to spot but your thesis should not contain sufficient indirect identifiers (such as age or postcode) which, when taken together with other readily available information, might allow a person to be identified. For example, your research might have involved a person with a rare genetic disorder. If you also gave the city in which your research took place, readers might then have enough information to identify the individual, without the need for a name. For more information see the Sensitive data bootcamp.

If your thesis contains images of people who are recognisable, you would normally need written permission from the people in the photographs before you can publish them, for example by using a photography consent form. An exception is when you have a photograph of people going about their everyday business in a public place where they could reasonably expect to be photographed. For example, shoppers walking in a high street.

Your thesis should not contain your own personal details, including your signature. This is partly a security risk but also because your contact details are likely to change. If you wish to provide readers with your contact details, you should restrict these to your UoB email address. This will continue to function even after you’ve graduated.

The General Data Protection Regulation only applies to information about living people. However, while it is not illegal to share data which identifies deceased persons, there may be other reasons for not doing so. For example, involving ethnic or political sensitivities.

Author's Declaration page

You do not need to insert an electronic version of your signature into the Author's Declaration page when you submit your thesis to the library. For security, please leave this page blank and unsigned.

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