Thesis Access Restrictions

This page outlines information relating to Thesis Access Restriction including types of Thesis Access Restriction and other related material. If you require more information about Thesis Access Restriction including ANU policy and procedure, please see the related links in the right hand panel.

There are three types of Thesis Access Restriction, Full Confidentiality, Delayed Public Access, and Not Restricted. The definitions for each of these can be found below. Approval is required for Full Confidentiality and Delayed Public Access and the candidate can apply for these Thesis Access Restrictions when completing the Notification of Intent to submit milestone (NOI).

Thesis Access Restriction is considered on the basis of whether the thesis, or parts of the thesis, contain confidential material. Please note if a thesis contains confidential information this information should be confined to a confidential appendix wherever possible. For more information on confidential appendices please see the link to the Procedure: Higher degree by research - use of confidential or restricted information in theses, in the right hand panel.

Examiners of the thesis are unable to discuss the contents of the thesis during the examination period regardless of whether a Thesis Access Restriction applies. Any applications for Full Confidentiality or Delayed Public Access are in addition to this. Thesis Access Restriction timeframes begin on the date the Candidate's thesis is received by the ANU Open Research repository, which is after the approval of the research award.

What is considered Confidential?

Confidential information may be generated from research itself, by interactions with a third party, or by obtaining information regarded as confidential from a third party.

Confidential information that is generated may include:

  1. Requirements to prevent the substance of information becoming public;
  2. Requirements to restrict the way in which information is expressed;
  3. Requirements to maintain confidentiality regarding the source of information;
  4. Ethical standards in regards to the conduct of research and statements in those standards in relation to confidential information;
  5. Where a contractual agreement or undertaking has been entered into in relation to the use of any information that is required to be kept confidential;
  6. Where permission cannot be obtained to reproduce copyright material

Thesis Access Restriction may be requested for a number of reasons including:

  • Intellectual Property (e.g. commercial reasons, third party copyright, intent to publish)
  • Ethical Considerations (e.g. obligations to protect information from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, loss or theft.)
  • Cultural Sensitivities (e.g. material which may cause distress, offence to or impact the safety and security of particular groups)
  • National Security (e.g. defence intelligence)
  • Protection of Sources (e.g. privacy, impact the safety and security of individuals, including the author)

If the Candidate is unsure of whether the thesis contains confidential material or restricted information, the Primary Supervisor and Chair of the Supervisory panel should be consulted. For advice on copyright please contact the Open Repository team at the ANU Library. Detailed information, reference documents and supporting material on copyright can be found on the Open Research webpage

What is Delayed Public Access and when would you consider this?

Delayed Public Access restricts the public availability of the thesis through ANU Open Research repository for a specified period of time. If the period of time is greater than 12 months approval is required. Delayed Public Access should be considered when the nature of confidentiality required does not extend to the Examiners beyond the examination process. It can also be considered if there is an intention to publish. 

What is Full Confidentiality and when would you consider this?

Like Delayed Public Access, Full Confidentiality restricts the public availability of the thesis through ANU Open Research repository for a specified period of time. Unlike Delayed Public Access, the thesis Examiners are unable to discuss the content of the thesis for the period of restriction and will be asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Full Confidentiality requires approval regardless of the timeframe and should be considered only in exceptional circumstances.

What is Not Restricted and when does it apply?

Unlike Delayed Public Access or Full Confidentiality, Not Restricted allows public availability of the thesis through the ANU Open Research repository as soon as the research award is approved.   If the thesis does not contain confidential material it is considered to be Not Restricted by default.

What is a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and when is one required?

If an application is granted for Full Confidentiality to a Candidate's thesis, the Examiners must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). An NDA is a contract whereby the Examiners in question agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement for the specified period. The information covered may include parts of, or all of the thesis. An NDA creates a confidential relationship between the parties to protect any type of confidential and proprietary information included in the Candidate's submission. An NDA exists for the time period between approval of the Candidate's research award and the Thesis Access Restriction expiry.

Applying for Thesis Access Restriction

Application for Thesis Access Restriction can be made in the HDR Milestone Reporting eForm - Notification of Intent to submit milestone (NOI). When applying for Thesis Access Restriction you will be required to provide a statement supporting your request. Except for in exceptional circumstances, you should develop the supporting statement with your Primary Supervisor and Chair of Panel. This statement should be a concrete summary addressing the following points:

  • Why your interests would be damaged by making the thesis available;
  • Why these risks abate after the period of the requested delay;
  • Whether these risks were known (by you and/or your supervisor at the time of application for candidature or approval of the thesis topic);
  • Whether applications for patents or other protection for intellectual property have been submitted and you are listed as an inventor;
  • Whether the studies were funded under contract from a funder and the contract requires thesis access restrictions;
  • Whether the thesis contains confidential material or material which may cause distress, offence to or impact the safety and security of particular groups.