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What a student should know about the public nature of academic theses

Students who are preparing their theses should keep in mind that the thesis is a public document. The thesis submitted for evaluation may not contain any secret information.

Information about the thesis can be retrieved from the Aaltodoc portal. Archived copies of the thesis itself may be viewed at the Learning Centre in electronic or in printed form. In addition, theses produced in a digital format will be electronically sent by the Learning Centre to anyone requesting a copy.

If a thesis is produced on commission for a business, any parts of the thesis containing commercial secrets must be left as part of the background material, and not be included in the actual thesis for evaluation.

Saving on the Aaltodoc portal

No thesis will be put on the Aaltodoc portal, where it may be obtained by anyone, unless the author gives his or her consent. Thesis meta data, however, (such as the name of the thesis and author, the author’s graduation year and degree programme, and thesis keywords) shall continue to be available online for public view.

Authors may choose to make their entire thesis texts public, in which case the thesis in its entirety will be available to all Aaltodoc users in PDF form. Background material is separate from the thesis itself, and therefore it is not saved on the Aaltodoc portal.

If the author dos not grant permission, the thesis shall not be obtainable directly from Aaltodoc, but a customer may submit a request to the Learning Centre for it (oppimiskeskus@aalto.fi).

Juridical background

According to the Constitution of Finland, documents and electronically saved files in the possession of public authorities are public, including theses. Aalto University theses are public documents. Everyone has the right to obtain information about them. This principle was affirmed in the guidelines for higher education institutions issued by Finland’s Ministry of Education in 2004.

Electronic theses are sent to requesting parties free of charge, unless the volume of requests, or comparable reason stated in the Openness act, would unreasonably inconvenience the university’s operations. The possibility provided by the Openness act to obtain a thesis in digital format does not mean that the recipient may freely forward it or distribute it to others through a data network.

The Administrative Court of Northern Finland issued a ruling, effective 15 Feb. 2019, that the library of the University of Lapland shall, according to the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999), email theses produced in digital format to customers on request, even without the author’s permission for online publishing. As copyright does not restrict the giving out of a public document, no permission is needed from the author in order to provide the document.


For further information, contact: Anna Johansson, Matti Raatikainen (firstname.lastname@aalto.fi)


References:

  • The Constitution of Finland (731/1999)
  • Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999)
  • Ministry of Education guidelines 3/500/2004
  • Ruling of the Administrative Court of Northern Finland 15 Feb 2019/0036/1