Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Theses

How do I lodge my thesis?

You will need to provide your Faculty Office with a digital copy of your thesis. Your Faculty Office will lodge the thesis with the Library on your behalf, once the appropriate documentation and checks have been completed. Your thesis will then be added to the Sydney eScholarship Repository.

Why has the University chosen to collect electronic theses?

In March 2011 University of Sydney commenced the University of Sydney (Higher Degree by Research) Rule (2011). The Rule replaced the existing regulations governing the submission of Higher Degree by Research theses. As a result of the new Rule there is no longer a specified format for the archival copy of a Higher Degree by Research thesis to be lodged with the Library. The only stipulation in the new Rule is that the student must provide a copy of their thesis to the Library.

In 2012, the Library put forward a recommendation to change the requirement from a bound paper copy to a digital copy, to enable digital preservation of and online access to Higher Degree by Research theses. The changes were endorsed by the Academic Board and the Senior Executive Group Research Committee (SEG RC).

These changes will provide greater access to and use of University of Sydney theses, and will bring the University of Sydney into line with other Australian and international universities.

Do I have to lodge my thesis electronically?

Yes. Except for in very unusual and exceptional circumstances, all Higher Degree by Research theses will be submitted electronically to your Faculty Office, and will be lodged in the Sydney eScholarship Repository.

You may still wish have a copy of your thesis printed and bound to keep in your own collection, or for your examiners. Contact your Faculty Office to check any faculty requirements.

Open access or local access (University of Sydney access only) - which option should I choose?

When you lodge your thesis you may choose between two levels of access:

  • Open Access: meaning able to be freely accessed viewed and re-used by anyone in the world via the internet.
  • (University of Sydney access only) Local Access: meaning able to be accessed viewed and re-used by current staff and students of the University of Sydney via Unikey authentication.

The University encourages students to enable open access to their theses, wherever possible. However, it may not always be possible for you to make your work open access. For example, if your thesis contains copyright material, and the copyright holder will not allow you to make that material openly accessible, you should choose local access to avoid breaching copyright.

For further information on copyright see the copyright and your thesis section of the University of Sydney Guide to Copyright.

What are the benefits of open access?

Providing open access to your work has many benefits. You can:

  • Share your work with a global audience, including researchers, higher degree by research students, industry practitioners and the public.
  • Have your work indexed by Google Scholar and included in the National Library of Australia's Trove discovery service.
  • Make it easy for other researchers to cite your thesis.
  • Ensure the ongoing preservation of a digital copy of your thesis.
  • Receive a permanent and citable web link to your thesis.

Who will be able to access my work if I choose local access (University of Sydney Access only)?

If you choose local access, all University of Sydney staff and currently enrolled students will be able to access your thesis, via Unikey login. A researcher or student from outside the University can make a request to access your thesis "on-site" in any of the University of Sydney Libraries. To do this they must produce appropriate identification and agree to the Information and Communication Technology (ITC) Resources Policy and the Library Rules.

What about plagiarism?

Unfortunately, plagiarism happens. Some researchers feel that their work is more vulnerable in an electronic format as it is easy to copy text in the digital environment. However, making your work open access constitutes a form of protection against plagiarism. The more people are aware of the existence of your thesis and are able to search for, access and cite it, then the possibility of another researcher successfully plagiarising your text and ideas is decreased. If your thesis is only available to a small number of people, then a plagiarist is more likely to be successful if they choose to copy your text or ideas without the appropriate acknowledgement.

Will I be able to publish articles from my thesis if I choose open access?

Yes. The text from a thesis chapter is rarely the same as the subsequent journal article, even in draft form. Journal articles are usually based on a chapter or sub-section of a thesis, but are first edited to suit the audience of the intended journal, and then are edited a second time through the peer review process.

Many research students want to publish from their thesis after the thesis has been accepted, but are concerned that making their thesis available on the Internet may then make it ineligible for later publication. Many of the major journal publishers (e.g. Elsevier) accept electronic access to theses and will publish articles based on electronic theses. However, some publishers will still insist on first publication.

We recommend that you check the policy of your intended journal publishers, and discuss your publication options with your Research Supervisor.

Please note: you have the option to restrict your thesis to local access if you find your publisher insists on exclusive publication.

Will I be able to publish my thesis as a monograph if I choose open access?

Yes. A thesis and the subsequent published monograph are rarely identical. Monographs are often based on a thesis but are usually re-written to include new information such as comments from examiners and reviewers and to incorporate new information.

Some argue that making a monograph available on the Web does not affect the market for a monograph. They suggest that Internet availability may even increase the eventual sales of the printed work by raising awareness of its existence.

We recommend that you check the policy of your intended publisher, and discuss your publication options with your Research Supervisor.

Please note: you have the option to restrict your thesis to local access if you find your publisher insists on exclusive publication.

A word of warning - beware of unsolicited offers to publish your thesis!

The Library wishes to advise the researchers of the University to take care if they are approached with an unsolicited offer to publish their research or thesis. Any unsolicited approach by a publisher should be taken with caution. If you are approached and in doubt, talk with your supervisor, colleagues, the Research Portfolio or the Library.

For more information please see the Publishing Your Thesis Via a "Print-On-Demand" Publisher information sheet and the Publish Your Research section of the Research Support website for further information, or contact your Academic Liaison Librarian for further information.

My thesis is by publication, which access option should I choose?

If your thesis is by publication¬Ě this normally means that the majority of the thesis is made up of published articles or book chapters. If you wish to make your thesis available open access, you will need to get written permission from your publishers to do so. Copyright Services has drafted a sample permission letter for you to use.

If your publisher will not provide permission to make an article in your thesis by publication open access, you will need to choose local access(University of Sydney Access only), and restrict access to your thesis to staff and current students of the University of Sydney only.

I've already submitted a paper copy of my thesis - can I still lodge a copy of my thesis with the Sydney eScholarship Repository?

Yes! All former PhD and Masters (Research) students are invited to deposit an electronic copy of their thesis and make it openly accessible via the Sydney eScholarship Repository.

For students who graduated before 2013, the process is different. See the deposit your digital thesis page for further information.

What file formats do I need to use?

Your thesis should be in PDF format (Portable Document Format). You may need to convert your thesis to PDF from the manuscript in Word or another format. Do not scan the thesis from a paper copy. To prevent the extraction of text and images from your work please read Preventing Text and Image Extraction from a PDF File.

Ancillary files should be included in the following formats:

  • Images - uncompressed Tif (.TIFF)
  • Audio - raw or .wav for archival purposes
  • Video - no prescribed format
  • Databases - no prescribed format
  • Programs - no prescribed format
  • Any other files should be in the native format

Ancillary files should be in standard, open or non-proprietary file formats wherever possible. If a supplementary file requires special software to read or use it please note this information and provide it to your Faculty Office with your thesis, so this information can be added to the repository with your thesis and supplementary materials.

Please contact the Sydney eScholarship Repository Coordinator regarding any questions you have about appropriate or sustainable file formats.

Who do I contact for help?

Contact your Faculty Office for assistance with lodging the awarded version of your thesis.

Contact the Sydney eScholarship Repository Coordinator for assistance with depositing a digital copy of your thesis.

Contact the Copyright Officer for assistance with copyright.