Ph.D. Publication, Access & Embargoing
Like most institutions belonging to the Association of Research Libraries, Princeton University requires that a dissertation be made publicly available in order for a Ph.D. to be awarded. Since 1950, the Graduate School has accepted the deposit of a dissertation to ProQuest via Mudd Library as fulfillment of this requirement. Accordingly, Ph.D. candidates are required to submit to the Graduate School a signed copy of deposit from Mudd Library before they may be placed on a degree list. Students thereby grant to ProQuest a nonexclusive license to distribute the dissertation, but cede no copyright of the material.
Changes in the Graduate School’s and University Archive’s procedure for archiving and making accessible doctoral dissertations in electronic form have caused some concern among graduate students and faculty, particularly those in the humanities and some social sciences, that their ability to publish their dissertations as scholarly books will be affected negatively by the new access policies and that their future careers in the academy may be hampered. Briefly, a major change was to archive the second copy of the dissertation in electronic form in Princeton’s DataSpace digital archive, which is searchable by major search engines and therefore, in effect, open access. Moreover, dissertations published by ProQuest are available for free in electronic form to users at research libraries that also publish their students’ dissertations with ProQuest and pay a subscriber’s fee for such access.
Accordingly, the Policy Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee of the Graduate School instituted a dissertation embargo policy. This policy requires that:
- Students be given an option to embargo (that is, delay the public release of and access to) their dissertation for a period of two years, renewable, for the purpose of protecting their ability to publish their dissertation in book form.
- This embargo apply both to publication with ProQuest and to accessibility on Princeton University’s DataSpace; that is, an embargoed dissertation will not be available to those in the Princeton domain, or to university subscribers to free ProQuest access, or for the purpose of Interlibrary Loan.
- Students who wish to embargo their dissertation must have the approval of their adviser or dissertation committee in writing (as well as that of any others who have a relevant interest, e.g., funding sources), as well as the approval of the Graduate School, and that the approval must be received at the time of filing the advanced degree application for the Final Public Oral (FPO).
- All other policies and procedures involving the submission of doctoral dissertations will remain in place.
Features of the current dissertation submission and access policy will not change:
- The one hardbound copy of the dissertation must be deposited with the University Archives and will be available in that form to those who visit the library to read it.
- Students who choose to embargo their dissertation must upload it electronically to ProQuest so that ProQuest can release it when the embargo ends.
- The dissertation abstract will be published immediately by ProQuest.
- Students not choosing the embargo option will have their dissertations published by ProQuest, available to researchers at other university subscribers, and archived and accessible through the University’s DataSpace, which is open access.
Ph.D. recipients who have received approval for an embargo may just prior to the embargo expiration request a renewal of the embargo if they continue to believe that they need to protect their ability to publish their dissertation in book form. Renewal request are subject to the following conditions:
- The renewal provides for a two-year extension to the original embargo.
- The embargo may be renewed only once, so that a dissertation may be embargoed for a maximum of four years, including the extension.
- An embargo renewal must be requested in writing at least one month before the original embargo has expired and may not be requested more than three months prior to the embargo expiration date. (Original embargoes are always set to expire two years from the date on which the Ph.D. was awarded.) So, for example, a Ph.D. recipient who was awarded the Ph.D. on June 4, 2013, and who wishes to request a renewal of an existing embargo must request the renewal in writing before May 4, 2015, and may not request it before March 4, 2015.
- All written requests should be directed to the associate dean for academic affairs, who will acknowledge their receipt and approval.
This policy was originally approved by the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School on May 14, 2012; policy updates were approved by the same committee on September 19, 2013.