Unlocking the knowledge contained in doctoral theses

In most cases, it takes anywhere between three and five years to write a doctoral thesis and a lot of the content is original research. But until recently, once finished, bound, and the degree has been awarded, the doctoral theses would end up inaccessible to most potential readers.


So where are all the theses?

At City, the theses would be catalogued and then taken to the library store. The theses would be locked away in this store, which is in the university’s basement, and it would be necessary for them to be requested in advance and brought up to the library by  library staff in order for them to be read. Obviously, the potential readers would have to make a trip to the library.

But then, in 2011, with the launch of City Research Online, our institutional repository, things changed. The bound theses are still stored in the basement, but electronic copies of the theses are made available through City Research Online.

Has it made any difference?

A quick scan of the available data shows that in the past 10 years, the most popular print thesis was requested 37 times. This is in stark contrast to the most popular electronic thesis, which was downloaded over 7000 times in just over 5 year period. Our theses have been downloaded by readers across the globe, and I am doubtful that a reader from Estonia or Zimbabwe would take a trip to City to access the print copy.



The figures also show that only 48% of our print theses have been requested to be read, whereas all our electronic theses have been downloaded at least once. Even if we assume that those downloaded once only were viewed by a librarian, this figure is still below 2% of all City theses available online.

To browse theses in City Research Online, by school or by year, click on the theses icon and discover the amazing knowledge they contain.

Theses button in CRO





Creative Commons licenses made easy

CC licencses banner

Creative Commons licenses enable sharing of and access to creative works, such as images, scholarly literature or music.

Creative Commons in numbers

  • The American non-profit organisation providing Creative Commons licenses was founded in 2001
  • 1.4 billion works were available under a Creative Commons license in 2017
  • 56% of all works available under a Creative Commons license in 2014 didn’t restrict commercial use or adaptation

Where can you find works shared using a Creative Commons license?

flickr logo    Youtube logo   vikipedia logo  doaj logoplos logo

Creative Commons symbols, what they mean and what they allow or restrict

cc license infographic 2


The benefits of Open Access

The principle benefits of open access were first enshrined within the visionary Budapest Open Access Initiative statement released on 14 February 2002, and are still very much alive 16 years later.

The convergence of research sharing with technological distribution via the internet, it declared, would create an “unprecedented public good” by facilitating free, unrestricted, access to information for academics, scientists, students and the general public.

“Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge” (Budapest Open Access Initiative, 2002).*


As well proving an invaluable asset to society, open access publishing has specific merits for you as an academic researcher.

  • You gain more exposure for your work

The traditional publishing route often means work is locked behind a paywall resulting in knowledge for those who can afford it. When publishing open access, your work will be widely discoverable, and freely available, for anyone regardless of ability to pay.

  • Professionals can apply your findings in their services

Free and unrestricted content enables professionals outside of academia, such as medical practitioners, to obtain access to up-to date research and information they can use for vital decision making processes, and influencing service development.

  • You can achieve higher citation rates

As Open Access scholarship increases the visibility of your work, studies have revealed that open articles can receive as much as 18% more citations in other academic papers. The more your work is cited the more likely it is to be read.**

  • Your work can be access by the general public

Publishing research in openly available format will allow access for anyone with an interest in your subject. This provides the potential for your work to become the foundation for future innovative research that can yield greater societal benefit.

  • You can achieve compliance with funding rules

In light of more and more funders mandating open publishing as a requirement for grant allocation, making your work free at the point of access is an easy way to ensure you are complying with rules associated with your financial support.

  • You can give taxpayers value for their money

With the majority of research being supported by public funded research councils, choosing open access publishing routes ensures you are giving back to the taxpayers who made your research possible in the first place, and have a vested interest in the results.

  • Your work can reach researchers in developing countries

Escalating journal costs underpin a glaring inequality in access to  vital information for developing countries who may have difficulty in affording the subscriptions. Making your work open access is crucial for allowing them to access up to date knowledge for research development, at the same time, whilst increasing global visibility of your research.

* Budapest Open Access Intiative (2002) Available at: https://www.budapestopenaccessinitiative.org/ (Accessed: 16 October 2018).

** Piwowar H. et al. (2018The state of OA: a large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ 6:e4375.Available at: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4375 (Accessed: 16 October 2018).




Open Access Week 2018

OA week iconWhat is it about?

Open Access Week is a global event celebrating all things open access. It originally started as a local event in 2007 organised by SPARC on a few campuses in the USA. Today, International Open Access Week is held in hundreds of locations across the globe. As the Week became more established across the institutions, themes were being proposed for each Week ahead of time to allow institutions explore common topics of interest, should they wish to.

This year’s theme of the International Open Access Week:

OA Week 2018 Banner Website

As open access becomes the norm in all parts of the world, there is a need to design open systems to deliver open access to enable true inclusivity and equity across the diverse, global community.

What are we doing at City?

Our priority this year is to raise awareness of open access and reach out to our research and student community. We will be posting a series of blog posts focusing on various topics we think our readers will find interesting and informative.


  • Come and see our book display in the library on level 5 and, as you come in to the library, our Open Access Week display board.

20181018_122849           OAweekboard

  • Come and watch a documentary focusing on open access, Paywall: The business of scholarship. When? Wednesday 24th October at 12.30 pm in B103 (University Building). Don’t forget to bring your lunch and gain an insight into the profit margins of some academic publishers.
  • Come and find out over lunch about open access at City with speakers from the Library and Research Office. When? Tuesday 23rd October at 12.30 pm in C313 (Tait Building).
  • Sign up for this and other events on the City Events website. 

We will also be tweeting and retweeting interesting posts using hashtags #oaweek and #Cityoaweek.



City Library unveils the new look City Research Online

This week, City Library is excited to unveil the new and improved City Research Online (CRO), the open access repository showcasing research by City staff and research students.


With a modern up to date image consistent with City’s webpages, the newly revamped platform, created by the Publications team, is designed for improving discoverability and accessibility of City’s research publications, for both the academic community and the public at large.

What’s different?

Exciting new changes to CRO include :

  • Easy access search tabs by City School for quick access to the right subject
  • Simplified University Structure and departmental breakdown for ease of navigation
  • Quick reference information on REF2021 and Open Access for City Staff
  • Links to City Research Online library guides for more detailed open access information

If you need help

If you need help with navigating CRO, or have any questions about open access, contact the Publications Team who will be happy to answer your questions.

ACT on ACCEPTANCE: make the REF 2021


What is Act on Acceptance?

From 1st April 2018, changes to HEFCE’s open access policy require researchers to submit their work to City Research Online within 3 months of acceptance to be eligible for the next REF.

As soon as you know your research will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, or conference proceedings, Act on Acceptance and make your research open access.

What do you have to do?

  • Upload your publications to your Publications profile as soon as possible after they have been accepted for publication.
  • Make sure it’s the accepted manuscript and not the published version: the accepted version is peer-reviewed but not typeset for publication.

What happens next?

The Publications Team will check your deposits to make sure they are compliant with the HEFCE policy, and the publishers’ terms and conditions regarding copyright and embargo periods. Once these checks are complete, they will make them available in the City Research Online repository.

What if you need help?

If you need help with depositing papers, or have questions about the open access policy, you can consult the City Research Online and Publications library guides.

Alternatively, you can contact the Publications Team who will:

  • Answer enquiries by telephone and email.
  • Meet with you in one to one appointments.
  • Help you understand the HEFCE open access policy.
  • Help you upload your papers to your publications profile.

Open Access

Open Access is about making research outputs freely available on the Internet at the point of access, as opposed to a traditional publishing model which places research published online behind a subscription or paywall. Open Access takes the results of research that has already been paid for and makes it freely available online. It includes journal articles and other types of research such as theses, conference papers and research reports etc.

How can an author make his/ her research open access?

There are 2 routes to OA: green and gold.

Green OA : This can be done by depositing an article published in a subscription-based journal in an institutional (such as City Research Online) or discipline-specific repository such as the SSRN or RePEc. or ArXiv

Gold OA: Gold open access is also known as the author pays model (usually the author’s institution will pay to deposit the article). A fee is paid to make the content available to everyone not just subscribers on the publisher website. In the case of articles, this is known as an Article Processing Charge (APC).

Many publishers are making open access content available eg. Sage Open, SpringerOpen . Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, among many others, also offer hybrid model, allowing authors to have their articles on open access within subscription journals for a fee. See the City Research Online and open access guide here. You can also check for yourself prior to choosing where to publish, using the Sherpa Romeo database (to check publisher copyright and self-archiving policies).

Benefits of open access?

The author benefits from increased visibility and potential for maximising impact outside of the academic community or internationally, the wider research community benefits from access to research findings regardless of their institution’s capacity to subscribe to a journal, society benefits from access to publicly funded research outputs and the journal in which the article was published will still benefit from citations and increased coverage. There is also central storage and preservation.

Additionally, many funding bodies now mandate or actively encourage research they have funded is deposited in a repository or made open access via another route.

The Sherpa Juliet database contains a summary of policies given by various research funders as part of their grant awards.

How is the Library supporting researchers and open access?

City Research Online is City University London’s institutional research repository. It contains a selection of research outputs created by City University London staff and researchers, mainly journal articles, book chapters and conference papers. Many universities have repositories to store their research output.

Rather than searching a number of repositories to find relevant research, harvesters such as OpenDOAR and ROAR have access to subject-based and institutional repositories, including City Research Online.

City Research Online content is also discoverable via City Library Search.