Should you release your thesis open access? Firstly, what is open access? Let’s start from the beginning, quoting from Wikipedia:

Open access (OA) is a mechanism by which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other barriers, and, in its most precise meaning, with the addition of an open license that removes most restrictions on use and reuse.


In case you wonder, there is a never-ending debate around the topic and refers to all the aspects of research. In the case of your thesis you may find yourself wondering if this is a good idea or not. In some cases you do not have to wonder at all as the university has chosen a particular path for you.

Some good reasons in favor of a the release of your thesis open access includes:

  • Extra visibility for your work.
  • Your thesis is going to be stored permanently and someone will take care about that at zero cost for you.
  • Transparency.

On the other hand, some reasons for not to release your thesis open access include:

  • You are giving away your right to use your thesis in an exclusive manner.
  • You actually do not really want to have your thesis in public display.
  • you may want to develop some commercial application and you do not want to give away your ideas.
Should You Release Your Thesis Open Access ?

As I said at the beginning, this is an open debate and for every good reason that you can find in one side, there is another valid reason on the other side.

Let’s analyze your situation. Depending to the regulation of your university you may find yourself in one of these categories:

  1. Your thesis will be released open access based on university policy.
  2. You would like to release your thesis open access.
  3. You and/or your supervisor would like to not release your thesis open access.

In the last case (#3) you probably have done your thesis as part of an internship in a company or a lab and you have used resource that the company does not want to disclose at the moment. You may want to check with your supervisor what are your options and what is the best way to proceed. Probably you will submit your thesis following the standard procedure of the university.

The first case, that happen more often that you can imagine, is probably the worst one. Someone else chose for you and the thesis will be published in some obscure database of the university. If you find yourself in this category you may embrace point 2 and “convince yourself” that is the right way to go. I do not see what you have to loose after all.

In the second case I assume that you made the conscious decision towards “open access”. Consequently, you may want to maximize the visibility of your thesis and publish your work in as many repositories as you think they are appropriate. Please note, that I am not suggesting you to favor open access. You should evaluate this decision with your supervisor and whenever their opinion differs from what you are reading, just follow their lead. Nevertheless, if you decided for the Open Access option the link below will represent a set of resources that you may find useful for disseminating your thesis and ensuring maximum visibility.

Should You Release Your #thesis #openaccess ? What you should know before taking a decision Click To Tweet

Resources for publishing open access:

These are relatively known repositories after your defense you may what to submit your thesis there.

In the Netherlands, and probably in many other countries there is a similar system, all the theses, from all the universities are funneled automatically into this repository

In other words you do not have to do anything, just submit the thesis for defense following the procedure of the university and will be automatically published in the DB of the university (here you can find the one of Tilburg ) as well as to the central repository.

Another popular repository in Europe is probably DART,

You may want to check if the university automatically publish your thesis there and, if not, act accordingly.

Finally in this Swiss website you will find an interesting collection of repositories that I would recommend to explore if you have the time:

This is a bit of extra work but will ensure proper visibility for your thesis. After all, what is the point of releasing your thesis open access if you are not going to share it? You spent months in building a good work, this is the time to share it!

This article (Should You Release Your Thesis Open Access?) is part of the miniseries on how to do a good thesis, you can see the full list of post at the following links:

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