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Submitting your thesis to ORA: Restricted access to your thesis

Dispensation from consultation

Dispensation from consultation offers you the means to a) extend the embargo applied to your work b) embargo specific content in your thesis from public release.

You should apply for dispensation from consultation for all or part(s) of your digital thesis (and possibly also the print version) if:

  1. your thesis contains third-party copyright material that you don't have permission to make available online via ORA (see info on copyright). 
  2. your thesis contains confidential or sensitive material (e.g. patient data, animal research)
  3. making your thesis freely available may invalidate an application for a patent on a product or process described in the thesis
  4. restricting access to your thesis is a requirement of any agreements with an outside body or sponsor
  5. you have another good reason

Dispensation from consultation can be applied for by completing form GSO.3C ( NOTE: ORA staff do not make the decisions with regards to the granting of dispensation, the decision is taken by the appropriate department and Graduate Studies Committee. 

Dispensation will always be granted i) where confidentiality has been made a condition of access to material which is subsequently incorporated in a thesis, and also ii) as regards digital copies where copyright is held by a third party and permission to disseminate it via the internet has not been granted by the copyright holder.

What can the Dispensation apply to?

You can request dispensation for any amount of your thesis, from a single image or block of text, up to chapters or appendices, to the entire thesis file. If you have particular requirements, you may need to be specific in the dispensation request. 

Dispensation typically does not apply to the Bodleian catalogue record or ORA record of your thesis, including the title, author details, and abstract of your thesis. These are available as a record of the degree undertaken and achieved at Oxford, and have always been made available, including prior to the existence of ORA. 

If you believe that content available in the ORA record should be embargoed, such as the abstract, this will need to be applied for specifically with this request detailed in the dispensation request. Generally this information is only very rarely removed, such as in extreme circumstances where there is risk of personal harm to the author or their sources.

If you think your thesis should be subject to restricted access, you should check with your supervisor and read the information about copyright and pre-publication concerns

Different extents of dispensation from consultation

  • Full thesis: if the full thesis has been granted dispensation from consultation the practical implication is a longer embargo on the thesis. However, the full thesis is still required to be archived in ORA, for preservation purposes, as a graduation requirement. If you have been granted an indefinite or permanent embargo on the full thesis you are also required to deposit a hardcopy thesis with the Bodleian, so that this work remains accessible to the academic community. 
  • Dispensation applies to certain content (e.g. images): the student must still submit an entire thesis as a graduation requirement. A dissemination copy (with content removed in line with the terms of the dispensation) should also be submitted that can be made publicly available after the standard embargo applying to the main content has elapsed.

NOTE: Being granted dispensation from consultation does not remove the requirement to archive the full and final thesis in ORA, it simply provides authorisation to disseminate an alternative version (with certain content redacted) or extend the embargo.

ORA staff are notified of successful applications for dispensation from consultation in an email sent from the Research Degrees team to the ORA inbox.

Modifications for which applying for dispensation from consultation is not required

It is possible to indicate a period of restricted access for your thesis when depositing it in ORA. Embargoes of up to three years from LTS, or 12 months from LTS if you have received funding from a UKRI funder, do not require dispensation from consultation. This embargo can be applied to all or a part of the thesis. ORA staff will check any indication of embargo with central records.

In cases where a publisher-formatted article has been included in the thesis but we can't make this available online, it is acceptable for us/the student to replace this with the author-formatted version without requiring the student to apply for dispensation from consultation. N.B. switching the version should not alter the pagination of the rest of the thesis.

It is acceptable to redact short snippets of sensitive information from a thesis during the review process, e.g. phone numbers and email addresses, without requiring students to apply for dispensation from consultation.

It is acceptable to reword references where this is is required by copyright permissions, without requiring the student to apply for dispensation from consultation.

If you think your thesis should be subject to restricted access (i.e. dispensation from consultation), you should check with your supervisor and where necessary with Research Services. Approval for dispensation from consultation should be sought at the time of submission of your thesis for examination by completion of forms GSO3A and GSO3C which are available from the Graduate Office. When depositing your thesis in ORA, it is also necessary to indicate any such requirement to restrict access to your thesis on the 'files' page of the deposit form or the deposit note field.

ORA staff will check any indication of embargo with central records


Appeals route

If you need to appeal an outcome from application for dispensation, the usual route of appeals would be firstly via the Degree Graduate Supervisor.


Sensitive Content

Sensitive Content

When depositing items into ORA it is crucial to take steps to ensure that sensitive information not intended for public release is not inadvertently made freely available on the open Internet. Errors could result in serious consequences for the University or third parties which could be of a legal, personal or financial nature. 

Further information is available here.


Useful links

Oxford Research Archive (ORA)






ORA (Oxford University Research Archive) is the institutional repository for the University of Oxford and is home to the scholarly output of its research members. 

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