Universität Bonn

University and State Library

Publishing online on bonndoc

You can publish your doctoral thesis from the University of Bonn for free on our bonndoc publication server. This will make your work available in an open-access format all over the world, where it will be easy for other researchers to find and cite.

Some faculties require you to submit printed copies to the doctoral office or your institute library in addition to the online publication. Proceed as described in the information sheets from your faculty or ask us or your doctoral office.

We also give you the opportunity to publish doctoral theses from the University of Bonn subsequently online for free if they have already been published elsewhere.

Advantages of a publication on bonndoc

bonndoc is the institutional repository at the University of Bonn. Publishing your thesis on bonndoc offers numerous benefits:

  • Worldwide access to your doctoral thesis free of charge
  • Increased visibility for your work in various search engines and catalogs
  • Additional long-term archiving by the German National Library
  • There are no costs for you
  • Guaranteed citability by issuing permanent links (persistent identifiers URN and Handle; DOI is possible on request)
  • No restriction of your copyright: you can publish your work or parts of it elsewhere at any time (In the case of publications by a publisher, however, the publisher must agree to the parallel publication on bonndoc).
Publishing online on bonndoc
© Thomas Häpp / ULB Bonn

What to do


Preliminary considerations

  • Discuss the planned online publication with your doctoral supervisor and, for example, clarify whether an embargo period is necessary. In the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Agriculture, you will need written consent from your doctoral supervisor (Granted via corresponding forms from the doctoral office. In the case of the Faculty of Math. and Nat. Sciences, you must have Form 2 signed and then submit it to the doctoral office, otherwise we will not receive permission for online publication.).
  • If you want your thesis to be subject to an embargo period, please read our information on embargo periods.
  • If your doctoral thesis includes (journal) articles, you will first need to check in what form online publication is possible. You can find more information on our web page on cumulative doctoral theses.
  • Please take note of our contractual terms and conditions and legal information (only available in German).
  • Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, although you should be aware that we are unable to provide legal advice.


Getting your file(s) ready

  • Please check whether your title page and the following page are complete and match the latest template used by your faculty. Before publishing, you may need to enter the date of your oral examination, update the year of publication (i.e. the year of the online publication on bonndoc) and/or add the names of more reviewers.
  • For data protection reasons, we recommend removing your curriculum vitae if one is included (you are welcome to leave in a list of your academic publications that follows your curriculum vitae).
  • Convert the file(s) for your doctoral thesis into PDF format. Your file(s) must not have any PDF security restrictions, i.e. they cannot be password- or copy-protected. Additional materials and research data can also be published in other file formats.
  • Send your file(s) as a download link (e.g. via sciebo) or email attachment (max. 10 MB) to dissonline@ulb.uni-bonn.de so that other formal aspects and potential problems can be checked out. We will give you feedback.
    For doctorates at the Faculty of Arts, please also send a copy of the printing permission (imprimatur).


Registering for online publication

  • Please register your doctoral thesis for publication using our online form (only available in German. By clicking on the field names you get a translation and help texts in English).
  • You will need to prepare one or more abstracts and some keywords. We require at least one abstract in the same language as the thesis, although abstracts in other languages are welcome too. The abstracts can be up to one A4 page long.
  • Please read the declaration that is displayed below the form carefully (only available in German). After submitting the form, you have the option of downloading the declaration as a PDF file for your records.
  • Unless you have already done so, please send us the final file(s) for publication as a download link (e.g. via sciebo) or email attachment (max. 10 MB) to dissonline@ulb.uni-bonn.de after you have registered.

PLEASE NOTE: From 2024, printed copies for the USL are not required

From the year of publication 2024, i.e. for all publications from 1 January 2024, printed copies for the USL are no longer required if you publish online on the bonndoc publication server, as the USL has updated and modernized its collection guidelines.

However, some faculties still require you to print one or more copies for other bodies, e.g. for your institute library or doctoral office, despite online publication. The form and content of the printed and electronic version should be identical (except for personal data, if relevant). (If you need tips for printing these copies, you can follow the printing requirements on the habilitation theses page in step 2).

Our dissertations department team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Publishing your doctoral thesis

As soon as we have all the documents we need, we will take care of everything else. We will obtain permission to publish from your doctoral office and will publish your doctoral thesis on bonndoc once this has been granted. After that, we will send the corresponding confirmation of publication straight to your doctoral office. We will keep you informed via email of all the steps and publication via bonndoc.


Final steps

You have now fulfilled your publication obligations vis-à-vis the USL and can obtain your certificate from your doctoral office provided that you have done everything else required by the doctoral office.

Your online thesis will be cataloged so that it can be found in library catalogs such as bonnus and that of the German National Library, which will also put it into long-term archiving.

Would you like to view published doctoral theses?

You can view all doctoral theses that have already been published online in the bonndoc section for the respective faculty. First select the faculty and then click on the "E-Dissertationen" collection.


Design of the PDF file

Each faculty has its own rules regarding formal design. These web pages have templates for you to download:

Please read the following explanatory notes:

  • The location to be included on the title page must be your official place of birth (and not, for instance, the town where you live or another place with links to you).
  • For the Faculty of Agriculture, Medicine, Arts and Law/Economics: the year on the title page must be the year of publication (i.e. the year the work is published online on bonndoc).
  • For the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences:  the year on the title page must be the year the thesis was originally submitted to the doctoral office for review; the year of publication (i.e. the year the work is published online on bonndoc) must be entered on the page with the reviewers’ information.

The title page of your doctoral thesis as described above must be included in your PDF file, usually as the first page. This is followed by another page with details of your reviewers, the day you completed your doctorate and any other relevant information. The specific requirements for the title page and the following page vary from faculty to faculty (see previous question).

However, if you wish, you can also place a freely designed cover as the first page before the title page, which you can also use as a book cover in the printed copies (e.g. for your institute library and your doctoral office). This cover will be displayed as a preview image on bonndoc. You can find an example here.

Exception: for doctoral theses in the Faculty of Medicine (Dr. med./Dr. med. dent.), you are not free to choose your own design and may not use a self-designed cover.

Although neither the central administration nor University Communications have any objections in this regard, the design and look of your thesis should always be agreed with your faculty.
You can find information on how to use the logo correctly on the University of Bonn’s corporate design web page.

No. PDF files with security restrictions such as passwords, copy protection or blocks on printing are not permitted. We will gladly explain why:

  • bonndoc is an open-access publication server, meaning that we only accept data without any usage restrictions. All documents should be as accessible as possible for all readers, and protective settings such as a block on copying or printing present an obstacle in this regard.
  • The long-term archiving of all files must be guaranteed. A few years or decades down the line, we or the German National Library may be required to convert the files into other formats due to advances in technology. We can only do this if the documents have no security settings.
  • The text has to be extractable in order to be incorporated into our full-text search and to enable your doctoral thesis to be assigned to relevant topics and given keywords in an automated process at the German National Library.

Completing the online form

We recommend using special characters and formatting sparingly. If they are essential, however, please use HTML.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) describes the content and layout of a page to be published on the Internet. Within the document, HTML instructions (“tags”) go inside angle brackets. Web browsers then interpret the HTML texts and display them correctly.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. You can also find more information and help with HTML online.

Here are a few useful tags if you want to make certain text in your abstract or title bolditalicunderlined, etc.:

HTML text: How it will appear on bonndoc:
<strong>bold</strong> bold
<em>italic</em> italic
<u>underlined</u> underlined
<sup>superscript</sup> superscript
<sub>subscript</sub> subscript
<nobr>non-breaking text</nobr>
<br />This tag generates a line break.

There are specific HTML codes for special characters not found on a keyboard.

Character codes for Greek letters:

letter lowercase
alpha &#945; &#913;
beta &#946; &#914;
gamma &#947; &#915;
delta &#948; &#916;
epsilon &#949; &#917;
zeta &#950; &#918;
eta &#951; &#919;
theta &#952; &#920;
iota &#953; &#921;
kappa &#954; &#922;
lambda &#955; &#923;
mu &#956; &#924;
nu &#957; &#925;
xi &#958; &#926;
omicron &#959; &#927;
pi &#960; &#928;
rho &#961; &#929;
(final) sigma &#962; &#930;
sigma &#963; &#931;
tau &#964; &#932;
upsilon &#965; &#933;
phi &#966; &#934;
chi &#967; &#935;
psi &#968; &#936;
omega &#969; &#937;
theta symbol &#977; &#938;
upsilon mit hook symbol &#978; &#939;
pi symbol &#982; &#940;

The keywords that you provide for your work yourself by entering them on the online form are put on the Internet as so-called metadata. This makes it easier to do a targeted search for them using various online search engines.

Your keywords should be precise, concise and common in the relevant field. It may help to consider what search terms might be used by other researchers interested in the topics covered by your doctoral thesis. It also makes sense to pick keywords that you are not already using in the title of your work.

We recommend providing at least five keywords. You can enter them in German or English on our registration form (ideally, you will do both).

As the author, you can decide what other people are allowed to do with your work. Creative Commons (“CC”) licenses are frequently used for open-access digital publishing. These are available on bonndoc for your publications. They are a set of predefined licenses featuring various restrictions.
You can find out more about Creative Commons licenses and background information on the Open Access Service Center page about licenses.

The USL Bonn recommends using a “CC-BY” license wherever possible (i.e. reuse allowed if the author is credited). This guarantees the greatest scope for reuse, something that is desirable from a research policy perspective.

Creative Commons licenses are granted voluntarily. If you do not choose a Creative Commons license, your doctoral thesis will be published under a general copyright notice.

You can pick your chosen license in our online form for registering your doctoral thesis (see our step-by-step guide to online publication toward the top of this page).

N.B.: a Creative Commons license can only be granted for cumulative doctoral theses or those including (journal) articles if all the publications that it contains have also been published in an open-access format under a corresponding Creative Commons license. Otherwise, granting a Creative Commons license for these kinds of doctoral thesis is not recommended.

We are seeing very rare instances of a technical fault at the moment, particularly in Google Chrome, that is preventing the form from being submitted. We are working on a solution. Should you experience this problem, please deactivate browser plug-ins such as translators or use a different web browser to complete the form.

Please do not fill in the form again. Instead, send us your desired changes by email and we will update your registration in our system.

General questions about publishing online on bonndoc

You will be able to request an embargo period for your doctoral thesis on bonndoc under certain circumstances. For instance, this may be necessary if parts of your work are yet to be published in academic journals.

  • Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences: in justified exceptional cases, the doctoral board can grant an embargo period of up to one year for the electronic version of the doctoral thesis upon request by the doctoral student and supervisor. The doctoral board can approve an extension of this period in special exceptional cases if another request is made.
  • Faculty of Agriculture: doctoral theses published online can be embargoed for up to one year in exceptional cases. The doctoral students concerned make their request to the dean of their faculty in consultation with their doctoral supervisor.
  • Faculty of Medicine: an embargo period of up to two years can be granted for the data carriers that are accessible online. To obtain this, the doctoral student and first supervisor will have to submit a joint written request to the doctoral office but do not need to state their reasons. An embargo period of more than two years can only be requested from the doctoral board if justification is given.
  • All other faculties: although there are no specific rules on embargo periods, please ask your doctoral office whether you might be able to request one in an exceptional case.

A request does not usually have to meet any formal requirements. Please contact your doctoral office directly for more information on how and where to make your request.

The doctoral office will notify the dissertations department at the USL Bonn about any embargo periods that have been approved. Even if your publication is currently embargoed, you will still have met the criteria for completing your doctorate, meaning that you do not have to wait until the end of the embargo period to obtain your certificate.

As well as making your request to the doctoral/dean’s office, please also let us know that you are planning an embargo so that we can make the necessary preparations in good time. To do this, select “Sperre (Embargo) wurde/wird im Dekanat beantragt” (“Embargo has been/is being requested from the dean’s office”) in our registration form for publishing online (alternatively, email us at dissonline@ulb.uni-bonn.de if you do not opt for an embargo until after you have submitted the form).

Yes. However, how exactly additional materials can and should be published varies from case to case. Materials that form an integral part of your doctoral thesis and that are enclosed with the printed copies, e.g. on a CD/DVD, generally have to be published along with the electronic version too. They can be published on our publication server bonndoc directly in many cases. If research data is involved that other researchers can continue working on, however, it is often a good idea to publish it elsewhere, e.g. in specific research data repositories such as bonndata.

Please note that publishing additional materials/research data for a doctoral thesis on personal websites or your department’s website should be avoided as this will not guarantee their long-term availability.

We would be happy to advise you and will refer you on to the Research Data Service Center at the University of Bonn if necessary.

You can find further information on publishing and archiving research data on the center’s pages:

Research Data Management - Project Completion (accessible only in the university network)

Research data repositories bonndata & RADAR

Once the thesis is on the server, it can no longer be removed from there or modified for legal and integrity reasons.

A doctoral thesis can only be embargoed retrospectively—both on the bonndoc publication server and on the German National Library’s server—in exceptional cases (in the event of e.g. problems with patent procedures, ongoing legal proceedings involving plagiarism, retrospective revocation of a doctorate, unforeseeable problems with a publisher that also published the thesis) and with special permission from the dean’s office for your faculty. In some cases, an amended version of the thesis can be uploaded that is linked to from the embargoed publication.

Well before your work is published, therefore, you should clarify all details (not least with your doctoral supervisor), e.g. whether an embargo period is necessary due to upcoming publications or patent applications.

Although we endeavor to put doctoral theses online as quickly as possible, processing times vary considerably. How long a thesis will take to process depends on numerous factors including:

  • How complete your documentation is when you submit
  • How soon we receive permission for publishing online from your doctoral office

As soon as we have received all the correct and complete documents, we can finalize the publication within a few days.

Tip: please also think about submitting any forms from the doctoral office there once they are complete (particularly the form 2 on which your doctoral supervisor grants their consent to publishing online if you are with the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences). Otherwise, the doctoral office will not allow us to publish and the process will be delayed.

The USL Bonn does not have any objections in this regard, as you only grant us a simple right of use for publication via bonndoc. All other rights remain with you, so you can use your thesis at any time and publish it elsewhere.
However, the various publishers have differing views on the matter. Although some view publication online as additional advertising, others are categorically against digital publication of the full text because they tend to view it as competition.

If you sign a contract with a publisher, you must make sure that it will not adversely affect your original electronic publication on bonndoc and, if necessary, remove any clauses that give the publisher sole distribution rights. The electronic version on bonndoc cannot be removed or amended retrospectively.

Yes, of course! University of Bonn doctoral theses can be published subsequently online on bonndoc for free. If you have already used a publisher, however, you must first clarify with them whether your work is permitted to be published online.

Essentially, you can follow our step-by-step guide to online publication (see top of this page).

However, you should bear in mind the following:

  • The electronic version of your doctoral thesis must have the same content and form as the version that your faculty approved for publication. Please leave your file in the condition it was in originally when you published your thesis for the first time and do not change the year of publication.
  • We do not need permission from your faculty or your doctoral supervisor.
  • When you are registering via our online registration form, please select “ja” (yes) when you get to “Nachpublikation” (“Subsequent publication”).

Electronic publications on our server can be cited as shown in the example below. However, the exact form the citation will take depends on the citation style you want to use. Different fields tend to use different citation styles. What is important is that the URN link (or handle/DOI link) is always specified, as these are unchangeable persistent identifiers (see also “What are URNs, Handles and DOIs?”).

Last name, first name:
title of thesis : subtitle, if there is one
Location, year of publication
Type of thesis, university
URN link (you will find this on the page for your thesis on bonndoc)

Example: Doe, John: Online publications at German universities : an empirical study. - Bonn, 2023. - Doctoral thesis, University of Bonn. Online edition on bonndoc: https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:hbz:5-XXXXX

URN (Uniform resource name), Handle or DOI (Digital object identifier) are to electronic documents what the ISBN is to books, i.e. they act as unchangeable persistent identifiers that are valid internationally.

Any thesis published on bonndoc is given a URN and a Handle, which are displayed on the publication’s bonndoc page in the “Zitierbare Links” (“Citable links”) box. Upon request, you can additionally receive a DOI for your thesis.

In principle, the URL displayed in the address bar of the browser (e.g. https://bonndoc.ulb.uni-bonn.de/...) only specifies the server on which it is stored, not the document itself. If the document is moved to a different server, this URL will change.

By contrast, the URN, Handle or DOI — as identifiers of the document itself — will remain unchanged. Should the document be relocated to another server one day, a system running in the background will update the destination linked to by the URN, Handle or DOI to the new location. This allows a logical and traceable citation method that will last for decades.

For this reason, you should never use the URL displayed in your web browser’s address bar when citing a publication on bonndoc — always use the URN or Handle link (or the DOI link, if applicable) instead (starting with https://nbn-resolving.org/..., https://hdl.handle.net/ or https://doi.org/...). Which of the  identifiers you use is up to you, as all are of equal value.

No. bonndoc does not support VG WORT’s standard payout scheme using the METIS process. However, you can participate in VG WORT’s special payout scheme if your texts can be copyrighted. Please see the information provided by VG WORT on academic publicationsand online texts for details (only available in German).


Dissertations department

We receive all the doctoral theses written at the University of Bonn, publish theses online and help doctoral students through the publication process.
Availability by e-mail and phone: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm.


MNL Branch Library
Friedrich-Hirzebruch-Allee 4
53115 Bonn
2nd floor, room 2.013

On-site appointments only by prior arrangement!

Avatar Kneissl

Jaakko Kneissl

See also

Research Data Service Center

This tells you everything you need to know about organizing, publishing and archiving the research data that you have accumulated during your doctorate.

Open Access Service Center

Here you can find more details about open-access scientific publishing.

ORCID iD - Identifying authors

Create an ORCID iD for free so that all your scientific publications can be associated with you and nobody else, even if you change your surname, for instance.

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