Birkbeck Library > eLibrary > ORBIT - Thesis Repository

Put your research into ORBIT...

Online Repository of Birkbeck Institutional Theses

In July 2012, Birkbeck College doctoral (PhD and equivalent) courses defaulted to submission of one digital copy and one hard copy of a final thesis as standard.  Digital copies are made openly accessible to showcase the research undertaken at Birkbeck.  ORBIT outputs updates to Twitter with each new addition @BirkbeckORBIT

Click here to search or browse ORBIT.

Please note, if you submit a digital thesis, you must include the full, unredacted copy of record at minimum. Supplementing this with a redacted "public" copy is optional.


Do I have to deposit an e-thesis?

Why should I deposit a digital copy?

  • Enhance your academic standing by enabling easy access to your thesis, widening your audience and increasing citations.
  • Preserve your research in a single, searchable space with a permanent URL.
  • Help demonstrate the breadth of research carried out at Birkbeck.
  • Enable easier detection of plagiarism.
  • Share information about your thesis on EThOS and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.
  • Save on binding costs.

Why does Birkbeck want me to deposit a digital copy?

  • It demonstrates the breadth of research at Birkbeck.
  • It secures your research in a central, searchable archive.
  • It accelerates the dissemination of research.

What happens to my thesis once I send it?

  • Your thesis is added to ORBIT, Birkbeck's thesis repository, from where it is openly accessible to anyone with an internet connection (unless embargoed).
  • ORBIT is harvested by EThOS, the British Library’s Electronic Thesis Online Service, which holds digital copies of more than 250,000 theses from UK institutions.
  • Unless embargoed, the full text of the thesis becomes openly accessible on the web through Google. Metadata (and possibly full-text depending on the content aggregator) becomes available through services like Worldcat, and repository search engines like SHERPA, OPENDOAR, and BASE.

What is Open Access?

  • Open Access (OA) is free, immediate, permanent online access to the full text of research for anyone, webwide.” You can read more about it here. Contributors give permission to keep their work in a current format and to freely distribute electronic copies of it - nothing else. There is no assignment of copyright to the college or any of its constituents.

Doesn’t OA enable plagiarism?

  • Digital files can be compared more easily than hard copies. As a result, the detection of plagiarism is actually easier, helping to protect your intellectual property.

Is depositing equivalent to publishing?

  • No. If you wish to publish some or all of your thesis, but would still like to make it available via ORBIT, you should speak to your intended publisher for guidance on their copyright requirements. It is possible to restrict access to the full-text on ORBIT to comply with this.

How do embargoes work?

  • Candidates who wish to have their thesis embargoed must complete an embargo request form. Embargoes are usually for two years. If approved, the hard copy is not visible on the catalogue, and will not be viewable at the library. The digital copy will display only metadata about the thesis; the full-text file remains locked until the embargo expires, (unless you arrange an extension or permanent embargo.) If you have successfully arranged an embargo, please state this clearly in your submission email.

What about extended or permanent embargoes?

  • The current process for extending embargoes will apply for digital theses. Extension applications should be submitted via the Research Student Unit. If successful, the information will be passed to the ORBIT team to extend the embargo.

Which draft of the thesis should I deposit?

  • You should only send your final, post-examination version, with any required corrections completed. ORBIT is not a means of providing copies for examination. Examination copies should be submitted in the manner previously detailed on the procedures page.

What is Third Party copyright...?

  • When your work goes onto ORBIT, it will become openly accessible on the internet. If you have used material created by others, by extension this becomes available too, which may infringe their copyright.  Fair dealing applies where third party material is used for review or criticism, education and research, or where a less than substantial portion is used, but this is entirely dependent on the context.  As a rule of thumb, assume that work, particularly images and long extracts of text, is copyrighted and seek permission to reproduce it.  If possible, check as you write so that issues do not arise just before submission. The IPO publishes guidelines on whether you might require a licence, and locating copyright owners and organisations if you do. You can use this template letter for permission requests. You should keep a paper or digital trail of requests and permissions in the event of a dispute.

...and why is it important?

  • It is your responsibility to ensure, in advance of completing your submission form, that you are not freely disseminating third parties’ work without permission. The college will not accept responsibility for any copyright infringement which may occur as a result of the dissemination of your digital thesis through ORBIT. There is a clause in the submission form (11) specifically soliciting your acknowledgement that the thesis does not contravene third parties’ copyright by its dissemination through ORBIT. If it does, you can request that the full-text file is locked until permission has been granted by completing the digital thesis third party declaration form. ORBIT has a take-down policy when notified of rights infringement, but the responsibility for checking copyright rests with you.

What if I can't clear the third party objects in my thesis?

  • If you have not been able to secure clearance for third party copyright, you still need to submit the full version of your thesis, along with a completed third party declaration form to ensure we are aware the digital copy needs to be locked. The full version will be archived as the copy of record, but will not be openly accessible (see How do Embargoes Work?) It is up to you to make clear which version you are sending using the file-naming format guidelines. If you want to, you can also submit a public version with the third party copyright excised. This will sit alongside the full version but will be openly accessible (unless embargoed for another reason such as imminent publication, etc.)  You can use this flowchart and table to determine if your thesis will be Open Access.

What’s the point in submitting digitally if it won’t be Open Access?

  • Many of the benefits stated above still apply, even to theses where the full text is not openly accessible.

What format should my files be in?

  • College guidelines are available on layout and presentation of hard-copy theses. For digital theses, the standard file format is PDF. Any elements of the thesis created using software like Access, Excel and PowerPoint should be incorporated into the main text, in the body of a single PDF file. If you are unable to incorporate separate elements into a single file, they can be submitted for upload as separate files, as long as they are all included in the same email. ORBIT can host multimedia files for video, picture and sound formats, but these are also subject to third party copyright. Please note that the library is not responsible for providing software to open old “legacy” file types in the long-term.

How do I submit my e-thesis?

  • Submission to ORBIT is via the official email address. This is for submission only and messages sent to it cannot be replied to.
  • Once submitted, you will receive a delivery report acknowledging receipt. Your thesis will then enter the ORBIT workflow.
  • This is the only means of submission for digital theses. As submission of two copies is required, if one of your submissions is a digital copy and you fail to submit via the official email address, it can have serious consequences.

How should I name my files?

  • You should submit the PDF version of your thesis in the following filename format: “Version-Year/Surname/Initials/Degree/BBK.pdf”
  • For the full version, prefix the filename with “Full version-” i.e. “Fullversion-2011SmithJRphdBBK.pdf
  • For the public version, prefix the filename with “Public version-” i.e. “Publicversion-2011SmithJRphdBBK.pdf

Should I include the signature page?

  • We do NOT recommend you include this, as a scan of your signature could be misappropriated by others. You can use PDF editing tools to clip the page or just the part containing the signature.

Why aren't older theses available on ORBIT?

  • It is extremely difficult to check and clear copyright permissions for older theses.  With this in mind, ORBIT will only host digital theses which were either already on BIROn, or submitted from 2012 onwards.  If you are trying to find an older Birkbeck thesis in digital format, try the British Library's EThOS project.


Download the FAQ as a PDF