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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.


The restriction can be applied to the entire thesis or only to one or more sections of it. It may in extreme cases apply to the abstract - the extent of the restriction has to specifically applied for.

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

It is possible to indicate a period of restricted access for your thesis when depositing it in ORA. This embargo can be applied to all or a part of the thesis. ORA staff will check any indication of embargo with central records.

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.
  • 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

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.


Useful links

Oxford University Research Archive






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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