Should I request an embargo for my dissertation?
If you are concerned that public release of your research may be inadvisable, you may request an embargo, which will restrict access to your work for a limited period of time. Reasons for an embargo include: making public information about a pending patent application, violating privacy rights; disclosing sensitive data or information; and adversely affecting your chances of publishing a revised dissertation. In these cases, you should consult with your advisor and dissertation committee to determine whether an embargo would be appropriate.
In 2013, the American Historical Association released its Statement on Policies Regarding the Embargoing of Completed History PhD Dissertations suggesting that doctoral students should be permitted to embargo online access to their dissertation for up to six years, with access being provided only for those on campus or with the student’s explicit permission off campus. If you are concerned that the availability of your dissertation in an open access repository will negatively affect your future publication prospects, you may find our Revising Your Dissertation for Publication page and the articles below of interest.
- Cohen, Philip N. "Sociologists: Don’t Embargo your Dissertation." Family Inequality. 2021.
- "Can't Find It, Can't Sign It: On Dissertation Embargoes." Harvard University Press Blog. 2013.
- Gilliam, Christian and Christine Daoutis. "Can Openly Accessible E- Theses Be Published as Monographs? A Short Survey of Academic Publishers." Serials Librarian no. 1–4 (July 2018): 5–12.
- Gold, Alexandra. "The Great Embargo Debate." Inside Higher Ed. 2018.
- McCutcheon, Angela M. Impact of Publishers' Policy on Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (EDT) Distribution Options within the United States. 2010
- Ramirez, M. L., J. T. Dalton, G. Mcmillan, M. Read, and N. H. Seamans. "Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities? Findings from a 2011 Survey of Academic Publishers." College & Research Libraries 74.4 (2013): 368-80.
- Ramirez, M. L., G. Mcmillan, J. T. Dalton, A. Hanlon, H. S. Smith, and C. Kern. "Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Sciences?" College & Research Libraries 75.6 (2014): 808-21.
- Rosen, Rebecca J. "You've Spent Years on Your Ph.D.: Should You Publish It Online for Free?" The Atlantic. 2018.
- Truschke, Audrey. Dissertation Reviews. Apr. 2015.
- Dissertation Embargoes and Publishing Fears
- Open Access and Dissertation Embargoes
- Publishing a Revised Dissertation
- To Embargo Your Dissertation, or Not?
- Dr. Audrey Truschke's follow-up tweets on this subject (2019)
- Weinberg, Justin. Should PhD Students Embargo Their Dissertations? Daily Nous. 2018.
If my work is embargoed, what information will be available?
The Graduate School allows two types of embargoes:
The citation and abstract will appear in DigitalGeorgetown and ProQuest. The full text of your dissertation, doctoral project, or thesis will be withheld from public distribution but will be available to the Georgetown community (current faculty, student, and staff). Your work will also be available to any researcher who contacts the Georgetown University Library in advance and comes to campus to read it. Visiting readers are not permitted to print or download your work.
The citation and abstract will appear in DigitalGeorgetown and ProQuest. The full text of your dissertation, doctoral project, or thesis will not be available to anyone. This most restrictive option could be requested for a patent pending application and must be supported by a letter from your mentor or Director of Graduate Studies.
How do I request an embargo?
The Graduate School's embargo policy is set out in Part V.B. of the Graduate Bulletin, "Publication of Theses, Doctoral Projects, and Dissertations." Additional information about requesting an embargo is on the Graduate School's Embargo Policy page. For questions about how to place an embargo, email email@example.com.
Is there a time limit on the embargo?
Both ProQuest and DigitalGeorgetown allow an embargo for up to two years. In rare circumstances, an extension beyond two years might be granted. Such request must be made before the expiration of any previously granted embargo and must be addressed in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School, accompanied by a letter of support from your mentor or the Director of Graduate Studies. The decision whether or not to grant such an extension will rest with the Dean.
Requests to extend your embargo in ProQuest should be made directly to ProQuest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you submit your thesis or dissertation through the ProQuest submission portal without requesting an embargo, your work will be made available openly in DigitalGeorgetown within a few weeks after graduation.
Can I embargo my work after it has already been submitted to ProQuest and DigitalGeorgetown?
Requests to embargo a dissertation that has already been publicly available will not generally be approved. Even if an embargo is allowed, it is important to note that if your work has already been freely available in DigitalGeorgetown, and any copies made by others won't be affected by a later embargo.