This page gives information on the various types of sensitive content that may be present in a thesis and the actions that students should take to reduce risk.
When depositing items into ORA it is crucial to take steps to ensure that sensitive information not intended for public release is not inadvertently made freely available on the open Internet. Errors could result in serious consequences for the University or third parties which could be of a legal, personal or financial nature. The following guidelines are intended to limit the possibility of an undesirable situation arising. Checks and balances at each stage of the process are described.
Sensitive content might fall into any of the following categories:
You will need to have consent from research participants for the inclusion of their personal data in your thesis, to ensure compliance with data protection legislation and also to address any concerns about the publication of sensitive or confidential information. For particularly sensitive material, you may wish to seek consent for publication in an appendix to which access is restricted. A sample wording explaining about online deposit is available on the CUREC website to include in participant information.
A workable solution if your thesis includes sensitive or un-cleared copyright content is to separate that content into a separate appendix which can be embargoed enabling the rest of your thesis to be made freely available. Click here for more information
|Stage||Actions to reduce risk|
|Thesis/dissertation guidelines||Ensure information about sensitive content and patient consent are easily available to students and supervisors and factored into training, publications (eg handbooks) and similar.||Directors of Graduate Studies|
|Supervision||Supervisors ensure students are aware at appropriate points in their programme. Be aware of potentially problematic content when reading drafts and advise student.||Supervisor/tutor|
|Writing thesis||Remain aware of and note any content being included in the work to which access should be restricted.||Author|
|Transfer of status||Ensure student is fully briefed on types of sensitive content, patient consent and their responsibilities as author. Check with the student whether there is any or likely to be any content which may fall into the category of sensitive content.||Supervisor/tutor|
|Deposit in ORA||Check with supervisor and/or Research Services if unsure about the sensitive nature of any content in your work. Indicate that access should be restricted to all or part of the content using the ORA embargo functionality. Apply for the necessary dispensation from consultation. Indicate a date on which the content can be released if appropriate.||Author/depositor|
|ORA Review||Follow depositor instructions regarding embargo. Run quick check of content to identify any obviously potentially problematic content. If necessary contact author and/or supervisor.||ORA staff|
|Post-deposit||Retain a robust take down policy and procedure and take prompt action if necessary.||ORA staff|
If consultation or reproduction of all or part of the thesis would put at risk confidential material or invalidate an application for a patent on a product or process described in the thesis, or restricting access to the thesis is a requirement of any agreements with an outside body or sponsor governing supply of confidential material or the disclosure of research results described in the thesis, you should apply for dispensation from consultation. Please speak to your supervisor or Research Services for advice.
If your research involved some animal work/sensitive data, please ask your supervisor to send us an email to confirm that it will be ok to make your (abstract available immediately and your) thesis file available once the embargo period ends.
Medical Sciences Inter-Divisional Research Ethics Committee (MS IDREC) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Sciences and Humanities Inter-Divisional Research Ethics Committee (SSH IDREC) - email@example.com
Oxford Tropical Research Ethics Committee (OxTREC) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Central University Research Ethics Committee (CUREC) - email@example.com