Embargo - Withholding a Thesis

In keeping with world-wide academic practice, the University of Waikato endorses the principle that research theses are, by their very nature, available for public inspection. In so doing, it helps to ensure that intellectual developments can be appraised, used, and built upon by all interested parties. It is usually possible to write a thesis that can be made public based on research and data that may be confidential. Candidates and their supervisors should design their research to that end. However, the University also recognises that in unusual situations, theses contain material that, for commercial or security reasons, should be withheld from the public for a period after the thesis has been completed.

The withholding of a thesis is an injunction against the release of the thesis for public consultation in the University Library and Research Commons which is an open access digital repository.
The request to withhold a thesis may be submitted by the student (with endorsement from the Chief Supervisor) or the Chief Supervisor. The request must clearly demonstrate that the thesis contains material of such a confidential or sensitive nature that its release to the public would do one of the following:

  1. breach prior contractual arrangements with, or seriously damage the interests of outside organisations connected with the candidate's research, or
  2. endanger the confidentiality of material that might be the subject of an application for a patent, licence or registration by the candidate, the University, or other interested parties, or
  3. contravene legislation or threaten national security.

Approval will not normally be granted for any other reasons. Material that the candidate would not wish to be available to the public on grounds other than those above should not be included in thesis.

Application to withhold a thesis

Once the need to withhold a thesis has been identified the appropriate university staff at the School of Graduate Research and/or Research & Enterprise Office should be contacted so that all options can be explored to minimise the extent of the restrictions on the thesis.
Candidates who wish to apply for an embargo should complete the appropriate form. All applications are forwarded by the School of Graduate Research to the Research & Enterprise Office for approval.

An application for withholding a thesis should normally be made when the candidate applies for registration as a higher degree student of the University. If a candidate is receiving support from a commercial or governmental establishment for whom he/she is carrying out the thesis research, then it will usually be clear at the time of registration that conditions (a) or (b) for an embargo are likely to be fulfilled when the thesis is completed.

However, there are circumstances when the confidential/sensitive nature of the thesis research does not become clear until that research is near completion. For that reason, requests for an embargo may be made up to the time of submission of the thesis for examination. Applications will not normally be accepted after the thesis has been submitted.

Length of withholding period

The normal maximum period that a thesis is withheld is two (2) years from the date on which the hardbound thesis has been submitted for final acceptance and confirmation of the student's grade.
A one-year extension to this limit will be granted only in the most exceptional circumstances, and where the lack of an extension would cause significant hardship to the author.

Related documents

To apply for an embargo, or restriction of access to your thesis, please complete the Request for Embargo form, and return to Research & Enterprise Office.