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Oklahoma State University

Restriction (Embargo) on Immediate Publication of Thesis/Dissertations


Oklahoma State University Thesis/Dissertation Embargo Policy

Theses and dissertations submitted to the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Graduate College as a requirement of the student's degree program must be submitted in digital format and be in compliance with the OSU Guidelines for Electronic Theses and Dissertation Submission.  Throughout the country, institutions electronically submit theses and dissertations to ProQuest/UMI for cataloguing and publishing soon after degree conferral. Approximately 12 to 14 weeks after degree conferral, these submissions are available through the open access OSU E-Archive and the ProQuest Thesis/Dissertation database (via authentication).

One of the hallmarks of graduate education is public access to the knowledge created through students’ scholarly and creative activities and captured in their theses and dissertations. As a public land-grant institution, OSU is committed to this ideal. Moreover, open access fulfills, accelerates and broadens the dissemination of students’ work, increasing the likelihood that it will be acknowledged and cited early in scholarly careers.

Open-access work is fully copyrighted, and scholars who cite the work are expected to respect the author’s intellectual property rights in the same manner as any physically published work. In some cases, it may be appropriate to submit a petition to the Dean of the Graduate College to approve a delay in the release of an electronically submitted thesis or dissertation (ETD) into open access. This is called an embargo; an embargo is a period of time during which researchers cannot access an ETD from external search engines. Embargos may be appropriate for authors (1) who are seeking patents, (2) who want to publish their work through a traditional press that considers open-access publication to be equivalent to prior publication, (3) who have published material from their work with a publisher that does not allow open-access release for a certain period of time, or (4) who need to protect sensitive data or information. Graduate students must consult their thesis or dissertation advisors about the standards in their fields before deciding whether to request an embargo. The advantages of open-access availability of the work should be considered in making a final decision. When determining whether to grant an embargo, the Dean of the Graduate College will weigh the merits of the request against the larger needs of the scholarly community for broad and open access to scholarly work. Approved embargos will result in the thesis/dissertation being held by ProQuest and OSU E-Archive for the approved embargo period.

An embargo period can be six months, one year or two years. In extremely rare and extraordinary cases where sensitive data or information needs to be protected, writers of such theses and dissertations may also petition the Dean of the Graduate College to embargo their work from open access for a longer period. Upon expiration of the embargo period, the ETD will be automatically moved into open access. Authors of embargoed theses and dissertations seeking an embargo extension must file the renewal petition at least three months prior to the current embargo expiration date. As with the initial embargo, the Dean of the Graduate College will weigh the merits of your extension request against the larger needs of the scholarly community for broad and open access to scholarly work.

Approved by Graduate Council, February 17, 2006; Revised September 21, 2012