Reconceptualizing Open Access to Theses and Dissertations

53 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2022

See all articles by Orit Fischman Afori

Orit Fischman Afori

College of Management Academic Studies Law School

Dalit Ken-Dror Feldman

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 11, 2022


The global COVID-19 crisis has turned public attention to the special need for accessing cutting-edge studies that are needed for further scientific innovation. Theses and dissertations (TD) are prominent examples of cutting-edge innovative studies. TD are academic research projects conducted by graduate students to acquire a high academic degree, such as a PhD. They encompass not only knowledge about basic science but also knowledge that generates social and economic value for society. Therefore, access to TD is imperative for promoting science and innovation.

Open access to scientific publications has been in the focus of public policy discourse for two decades, but achievements have been limited. As part of this discourse, there has been no systematic discussion of the special case of TD and of the justification for adopting an open access publication policy toward them. The present study aims to fill this gap. We argue that the essence of TD as unique outputs of academic research merits a special policy mandating the publication of these studies in open access format, subject to certain exceptions. This policy is underpinned by several arguments, which we develop in our study, based on historic and normative analysis. These considerations support the reconceptualization of an open access approach designated particularly for TD, as opposed to other scientific studies.

To better understand current open access policies toward TD, we conducted a limited semi-empirical investigation to collect information. Our findings confirm that despite the growing awareness of the importance of an open access TD policy, no standard policy exists. Therefore, we propose to establish a mandatory global policy and standardization regarding the publication of TD in designated repositories, open to the public, that would generate together an "open world wide web of TD." Such a global framework would facilitate the progress of science and promote the public good worldwide. In the aftermath of the global COVID-19 crisis, it seems that the time is ripe for such a move at both international and national levels.

Keywords: Theses and Dissertations, Law and Technology, Intellectual Property, Open access, Open Science, Right to Research, Innovation Policy, Academic Policy, Progress of science, Copyright Exceptions, Publications Industry, UNESCO, Libraries, National Repositories

Suggested Citation

Fischman Afori, Orit and Ken-Dror Feldman, Dalit, Reconceptualizing Open Access to Theses and Dissertations (September 11, 2022). Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Orit Fischman Afori (Contact Author)

College of Management Academic Studies Law School ( email )

7 Rabin Blvd.
Rishon Lezion, 75190


Dalit Ken-Dror Feldman

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905

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