Student research

Open Research Online and student research 

The Open Research Online (ORO) repository provides access to a select number of undergraduate and postgraduate student research projects and dissertations. Student Research is an important addition to ORO and helps to showcase the excellent work of our Open University students. If you have been contacted by one of the participating module teams to submit your work to ORO, congratulations!

The Library Research Support team will help you with your submission to ORO, making sure your document is ready to be published. Before submitting your research project or dissertation, please ensure that all personal information is removed from the document, e.g. Personal Identifiers (PIs), OUCUs, postal and email addresses. The Library Research Support team will review your work for any copyrighted material before publishing it on ORO and will offer you advice and guidance on what to do next.

Copyright guidance

For the purposes of reviewing, marking, and awarding your module work, you are permitted to use any copyrighted (third-party) images, or other types of copyrighted content, in your student research project or dissertation. However, when you are invited to publish your work on ORO you may need to obtain permission to use the content. As your work will be made available to the public, it is important to make sure you have the right to use other people's content.

We have provided the answers to some of the most common queries we receive below. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Library Research Support team for advice.


What is copyright and why do I need to seek permission to use third-party content in my project/dissertation?

The Library Research Support team and Intellectual Property (IP) team collaborated to create a video guide for our Postgraduate Researchers (PhD, EdD, DHSC, MPhil) to help them understand what copyright is, and why it is important to seek permission to use third-party copyrighted material. The same advice applies to undergraduate and postgraduate student research projects and dissertations published on ORO. Please take a look at the video and accompanying guidance on the Copyright and your thesis webpage and if you have any questions, please contact the Library Research Support team

Can I make any changes or additions to my work before submission?

You are permitted to make small corrections, such as removing typos or correcting grammatical errors, but you must not otherwise alter your work from the version you submitted for assessment. If you wish to add a dedication or acknowledgement, you are welcome to do so.

What is a Creative Commons licence?

A Creative Commons (CC) licence allows a copyright holder to have control over how they would like their work to be attributed (acknowledged), shared, and adapted. There are six main types of CC licence. You can find an overview of the licences on our copyright and licences webpage and you can also download a PDF copy of our handy guide to the CC licences.

Do I need to pay a fee to obtain permission from a copyright holder?

No. You are not expected to pay any money to obtain permission from a copyright holder. If you are asked to pay a fee, do not proceed, and contact the Library Research Support team to discuss.

How do I get permission to include third-party content in my research?

Obtaining permission from copyright holders varies and is dependent on where you found the content. For your student research projects and dissertations, the majority of your third-party content is likely to be found in journal articles. The copyright terms for online journal articles are usually made very clear and they will state whether or not the content is covered by a Creative Commons licence, or if you need to ask for permission.

One of the most common ways to seek permission is to use the Copyright Clearance Center, also known as CCC Marketplace, or RightsLink. You can usually link through to the CCC website from the journal article you are viewing or alternatively, you can use the CCC Marketplace to locate the material you want to use manually. Please refer to our CCC user guide for some examples and guidance.

Sometimes you may have to contact a publisher or organisation directly by email. If you need to do this, you can use our sample permission email to help you construct your permission request.

Success! I have obtained permission. What now?

Keep a record of the permissions you have obtained. This may be in email format, or a licence document issued by a publisher. You do not need to submit this documentation to the Library Research Support team. Please keep them on file for future reference.

Help! I cannot get permission to use the content in my work. What do I do?

If you are unable to get permission, you have two options; find an alternative or redact. If it is important to use copyrighted content, such as an image, to illustrate a point in your work (and you have the time to investigate), finding an alternative may be the option for you. As there are many websites that offer free-to-use content, we have compiled some of the most popular ones in our free to use images, audio, and video guide. Terms and conditions of use vary so please check and ensure you comply and always credit the copyright holder.

If you decide to redact the content, please contact the Library Research Support team who will do this for you.

Who do I contact for help?

If you have any questions about the use of copyrighted content in your student research project or dissertation, please contact the Library Research Support team.


Contact us

Library Research Support team