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Library Guides

Researcher Support Library Services: PhD Thesis submission

All postgraduate research students are required to deposit an electronic copy of their thesis into PEARL, the university's Open Access research repository.   Older research theses have also been digitized from Library holdings and added to PEARL.

Guidance on depositing your thesis

Depositing your thesis

The submission form will ask you to select an embargo period and give an option to licence your work.  You will need to be aware of any copyright issues (for example, including published versions of your articles, images etc.) and seek permissions or redact material accordingly.  The document gives a permissions seeking template and will advise on how to edit your document.  

For any queries on this process please contact


choose the top link: "University of Plymouth account"
log in using your username (not email) and password

Requesting embargos

Should I stipulate an embargo?

What is an embargo?

An embargo is a temporary lock applied to your thesis that prevents public download until the end of the embargo period.  Your thesis is still discoverable in Pearl (and via web searches) and the abstract will be visible.  The file itself will show a padlock icon which will automatically unlock at end of the specified period.  

Should I select an embargo period?

Increasingly, funders and institutions are moving to a position of immediate openness of research outputs.  We recommend making your work immediately Open as this aligns with Open Scholarship principles including funder mandates to be open in research outcome dissemination; increasing your visibility to be cited; and credits you with your ideas date/time stamped with an appropriate re-use licence (if CC is selected) should others wish to re-use your work.

Embargo options in Pearl:

PGRs can select from 3 options in the PEARL thesis self deposit process that can be applied automatically at the point of deposit:

  • No embargo
  • 6 month embargo
  • 12 month embargo

There is a 4th option for an Extended Embargo period (of longer than 12 months) for which you will need to complete a form and gain Supervisor approval:

Extended embargos:

1. Deposit your thesis using the link above and select a 12 month embargo when prompted.

2. Then please complete the below form and forward emailed approval from your DoS to the address given in the form:

3. Your extended embargo period will be applied once your thesis deposit has been approved by the doctoral college.

Scenarios where you may need to embargo your work:

Students may wish to embargo for purposes of future publication opportunities based on your thesis. However, these days, many publishers do not view thesis publishing as prior publishing and in any case would usually require a substantial review of structure for a new audience. Therefore, to publish from your thesis is rarely a reason to apply an embargo period.

PEARL is a non-commercial archive of University outputs. Most publishers are understanding of the purpose of open theses via repositories and have stated that an open thesis is not considered prior publication. Some of the big publishers who support this are:


  • Nature‚Äč: "[we] are happy to consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis which has been published according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification"
  • Elsevier: "To avoid any doubt, Elsevier does not count publication of an academic thesis as prior publication."
  • Wiley: "The following types of “prior publication” do not present cause for concerns about duplicate or redundant publication:....Dissertations and theses in university archives."


If you have published articles you would like to include in your thesis you will need to consider whether you signed your copyright away to the publisher upon publication. Most authors do find that their publisher owns the copyright of their work (unless money has been paid to the publisher to make it Open Access). If your paper is behind a paywall you can usually include the author's accepted manuscript version into your thesis.

Accepted Manuscripts: this the version of your work that has been through peer review with revisions made. It has not yet been typeset by the publisher. It will likely be a word document. The publisher's copyright policy often states you are permitted to share these versions publicly subject to an embargo period.

You can check your publisher's embargo period for your journal using the Sherpa tool:

If your journal requires an embargo you can select this within the deposit workflow in PEARL. Remember that the embargo applies from the date of publication of the article, not your thesis deposit. Depending on when your paper was published, the embargo may already have elapsed.

This is a common reason for requiring an embargo.

Using copyrighted material

Using copyrighted material

Find out about Fair Dealing and whether you need to seek permission for including copyrighted materials in your published thesis:

Copyright advice for researchers

Licencing your thesis

Choosing a licence for your thesis

You can choose to be as open or as restrictive in your licencing of your thesis as you wish.  Most research funders require an open CC-BY Creative Commons licence for outputs of funded research.  CC-BY is the most open of the Creative Commons family of licence types where the author retains copyright and should always be credited as the creator of the work but permissions do not need to be sought by others for reuse, adding to, remixing or commercial gain.  Funders require CC-BY as they wish to remove permissions barriers to future researchers.

Pearl offers the following licencing options:
  • Public Domain & CC0 (we advise against these options as this is relinquishing copyright and giving your work away)
  • Creative Commons licence (recommended, see below)
  • No Creative Commons licence (we advise against this as it means 'all rights reserved' with no further guidance explaining how people may use your work.  Beyond Fair Dealing, people would need to seek permission from you.  Once you have left Plymouth, you may be hard to track down.)
Creative Commons branching options in Pearl:
  • Allow commercial uses of your work (yes or no)
  • Allow modifications of your work (share alike, yes or no)

The Creative Commons licence for your thesis will depend on the options chosen above.  See the CC licences for more detail on what commercial, share alike etc. means.  (The Library recommends non-commercial as your thesis is not published for commercial gain, however, this is entirely your choice).

What are Creative Commons licences?

CC licenses provide clear indication of how work may be used, reused and distributed.  There is a standard, machine readable logo for each licence type and the general public clicking on these logos will find a clear explanation of how the work can and cannot be used.  Creative Commons licences can be as restrictive or as Open as required.  Often, they are used by creators and authors to remove some of the barriers to reuse of their work to encourage future development. 

There are six main Creative Commons licenses - you can find out more about these on the Creative Commons website

Thesis submission: Key resources

Further support

Further support