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Postgraduate students

The staff of the Sydney eScholarship Repository frequently receives questions from authors who have made their theses available on open access and have received unsolicited contact from publishers offering to publish their work. Their first question is always “Will the fact that the work is available on open access hinder the prospects of a publishing the work?” In short, no it won’t. As a general rule there is a lot of difference between a published work and thesis and the fact that work is available on open access should not hinder your publishing prospects in any way. If they do or your publisher asks you to remove your open access copy you may want to ask some more questions of your publisher as to what value they are adding to the publishing process. For an interesting take on the thesis to book process see “THESIS INTO BOOK: Advice to the desperate

The second question asked is, “Is the publisher reputable?” This is a good question. As the copyright owner of your work, you are free to do with it as you will. However there are some things that you need to be aware of in relation to publishing your thesis:
• Not all publishers deliver a quality product befitting of an academic publication. If you are approached by a publisher check to see that they are a reputable business and what it is that they are offering in the way of editing; royalty remuneration, distribution and marketing . If you are unsure ask your supervisor, colleagues and or peers in your field. As a rule, if in the course of your research you have not come across this publisher think carefully about publishing with them.
• Usually when you enter into an agreement with a publisher you assign your rights to that publisher. This usually means that you no longer own the rights to that work and this will hinder any future publishing of and from the work. It is very important that you read your contract carefully and seek some form of legal advice. The devil is in the details as they say.
• If you are still not sure, don’t sign with the publisher and send the manuscript to other publishers you know and trust.
Please note that this is only a guide and should not be seen as legal advice.


Finally remember “Don’t sign your rights away

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As the copyright owner of your thesis you are free to do with it as you will such as seeking a publisher, leaving it on the shelf or digitally archiving it on open access. To smooth the way to either making it available on open access or have it published, you will need to clear the copyright for any material that is not yours which you have included i.e. images, graphs, maps etc… . Most publishers will require you to have done this before they start to work on your thesis and this will need to be done before can make it available on open access via Sydney Digital Theses.

Clearing copyright means getting permission from a copyright owner to use their material (you do not need to do this if you are not going to do anything with your thesis after you have submitted it, but you never know… .).

You should seek permission in writing, the University Copyright guide section - Copyright and your thesis has reference to a template that you can easily use. As well, this guide has a lot of relevant information in relation to copyright. For a comprehensive guide relating to copyright and depositing your thesis see Copyright Guide for Research Students: What you need to know about copyright before depositing your electronic thesis in an online repository. This includes how long copyright lasts, exception and other templates for seeking permission.


It should be noted that archiving a digital copy of your thesis and making it available on open access should not preclude you from nor hinder your chances of the work being published. There are many benefits to having your thesis archived and available on open access:
• International exposure of your thesis
• Web access
• Indexing by Google Scholar, Scientific Commons and other scholarly search services
• Secure archival storage
• Permanent and citable web links that you can use in your resume or future publications.

To end with, a very important reminder. If you do publish, read your contract carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask that your original work i.e. your thesis, be made available on open access and remember. Don’t sign your rights away!

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