Your thesis

In this section you will find information and guidance to help you with submitting an electronic copy of your thesis, which will be added to the university’s online research archive- SHURA.

You will need to complete a Thesis-deposit-agreement-form For detailed guidance with this, and copyright in general, see the Guide to copyright and your electronic thesis.

Note – this advice refers to the electronic thesis you submit for addition to SHURA, not the version you send in for examination.

Why do we ask for an electronic copy?

As a research degree student, you must  submit an electronic copy of your thesis to be added to the Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive (SHURA) – you can see examples at

Putting your thesis on SHURA has a number of benefits:

  • Your thesis entry will be indexed by search engines and so will appear in search results, which
    • increases access to your work
    • creates potential for a wider readership and increased citations
    • promotes both you and your work
  • Your thesis will be linked to from EThOS, the British Library online catalogue of theses- see
  • There will be a safe and secure copy of your work
Making your thesis temporarily unavailable- embargoes

There may be circumstances in which you want to delay making your thesis available for download.

For example you might want to write your thesis up as a book or article(s) and the publisher you are interested in has a policy which means they will not accept work if the thesis is openly available.

If you want to delay release of your thesis you can ask for an embargo to be applied to it. There is a section on the thesis deposit agreement form where you can apply for an embargo. If you want a one year embargo you simply need to tick that box. If you want an embargo of more than one year you will need to tick that box and get the agreement of your head of research degrees.

The embargo starts from the date of conferment, not the date you send in the electronic thesis, so it is best to send your thesis and completed form in as soon as possible after conferment.

For more information on choosing a publisher / journal see our guidance.

What are third party materials?

Third party materials refers to anything you use in your thesis to which you do not own the copyright. You can make use of less than a substantial amount of such material without seeking permission, but do remember to provide a reference.

What if you need to make substantial use of third party materials?

If you make ‘substantial use’ of third-party materials, you need to get permission from the copyright holder, unless specific exceptions apply.

For a detailed discussion of copyright exceptions, see the University of Leicester guide (from which our examples are taken) or the IPO guidance.

The important exceptions for your thesis are ‘criticism, review and reporting current events‘ and ‘quotation.’ These allow you to use material from other works as part of your thesis, as long the use made is fair and sufficient acknowledgement of the original is made by means of a reference. In general, fair use implies that you only use as much as is needed for the purpose of your thesis.

You can also make use of third party materials if the copyright holder has waived some / all of their rights, or if the copyright has expired.

If you do need to get permission for substantial use of third-party materials you must:

  • Make sure you know where you found the items, how to attribute them, and who the copyright holder is.
  • Contact the rights holder via email or letter and ask for permission to include these items in your electronic thesis as soon as possible- copyright holders may take a long time to respond.

All doctoral researchers must submit the version of record as an electronic file- this is the final version of your thesis as approved by the examiners after any amendments required by the examiner(s) have been agreed as satisfactory.

If you’ve asked for and received permission for all third-party items used in your thesis, you can include the acknowledgements in the version of record-  put ‘Reproduced by permission of {copyright holder}’ next to the item(s.), e.g.

‘Reproduced by permission of Taylor & Francis’

If you have had to remove any items because of copyright, you’ll need to produce and send an additional edited version. In this edited version you will need add a statement to note that an item has been removed, and a reference to the original. For example-

'Item removed for copyright reasons.

Bryman, A. (2016). Social research methods (Fifth ed.)'

A lack of response must not be taken as implicit permission. If you do not get explicit permission, remove the item from the edited version.

Reproducing images of individuals

If you are going to reproduce images of individuals in your thesis you must secure explicit written permission from the individual(s) concerned.

Data protection responsibilities

You must be sure not to include personally identifying material in your thesis.

If you reproduce copies of  forms,  such as ethics information or consent forms, be sure to redact any personal information- including your own.

Submitting your electronic thesis

The file(s) you send must be in the PDF/A format- your word processor should offer you the option to ‘Save as’ PDF- you may need to select ‘Options’ to specify PDF/A format.

We recommend the file name for the version of record includes these elements-

initial, family name, year of award, type of award, first three words of the title.

For example : ajones_2018_phd_technologyandpedagogy.pdf

We recommend the file name for an edited version  includes these elements-

initial, family name, year of award, type of award, first three words of the title, edited.

For example : ajones_2018_phd_technologyandpedagogy_edited.pdf

You can deposit supporting files or digital artefacts along with your thesis text. You should name them with your initial, family name, year of award, type of award, first three words of the title, and a descriptive element.

For example : ajones_2018_phd_technologyandpedagogy_class.mp4

Send your files and the completed Thesis-deposit-agreement-form to

Copyright permission letter

Dear [NAME],

I am currently in the process of finalising my  thesis on [TOPIC OF YOUR THESIS], which I am shortly due to submit to Sheffield Hallam University.

During my research, I came across the following : [DESCRIBE THE ITEM]. I would like to request your permission to include it in an electronic copy of my thesis.

Sheffield Hallam University requires students to submit an electronic copy to their institutional repository, the Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive SHURA (, which is a digital archive of research outputs from the University. I would like my thesis in SHURA to be available in full, to anyone, free of charge (‘open access’).

I believe that the inclusion of [DESCRIBE THE ITEM] is integral to my thesis and would therefore be extremely grateful if you could grant permission for me to use this in the manner detailed above. Naturally, I would fully reference your work and include any acknowledgement you deem appropriate.

Please let me know if you require any further information, otherwise thank you in advance for your kind permission.

Your rights

You own the copyright over your thesis. This means that you can use your content as you wish. For example you can make it available to the public under certain conditions by using a Creative Commons licence, such as the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) license, which is the standard licence we use at Sheffield Hallam University for electronic theses. This CC BY-NC-ND license means that people are free to copy, distribute or transmit your thesis on the condition that:

  • they acknowledge you as the author (BY),
  • they do not use your thesis for commercial purposes (NC),
  • and they do not alter, transform or build upon it (ND).

This protects your rights whilst encouraging use and distribution of your work. Since the license is non-commercial, third parties cannot use your thesis ‘for commercial advantage or monetary compensation’. This means, amongst other things, that nobody can sell your thesis online without your explicit permission.

Since you are the owner of the copyright, you are responsible to police use and enforce your copyright yourself. It may be for example that someone is selling your thesis on a third-party website. Where a breach of your copyright occurs, you will need to contact the third party who has breached your rights and ask them to remove your thesis from their website, in other words: issue a takedown request.

For example, if the thesis is being sold on Amazon, the takedown request needs to be submitted via Amazon’s report infringement page. You will need to log in using your Amazon account or create an account if you do not already have one.

Suggested text for a takedown request

“The infringing material can be found here xxx and has been placed on your platform by yyy (the “seller”).

The seller has breached the creative commons licence terms under which this copyright material was published and has not been given permission to publish my thesis, nor to make it available for commercial purposes. This email is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”), and I seek the removal of the aforementioned infringing material from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately.

As a service provider or host, I request you to remove or disable access to the infringing materials upon receiving this notice.”