Confidentiality of PhD Theses in the UK

Tina Barnes

Dr Tina Barnes is a Senior Research Fellow with WMG (formerly Warwick Manufacturing Group) at the University of Warwick

This report is based on a survey conducted in March 2010 aimed at establishing an overview of current trends in practice among UK institutions with respect to addressing issues of confidentiality as they pertain to PhD theses in the UK

The traditionally cautious attitude that academia has toward confidentiality, is predicated on the need to uphold the fundamental principle of free and open access to research outcomes and transparency of standards in research degrees. This principle however is sometimes challenged where research relies on industrial sponsorship. The most frequently cited reason for requesting an embargo on a PhD thesis, in both the 2004 and 2010 surveys, is that of protecting commercial interests”.