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Electronic Theses & Dissertations (ETDs)

Electronic Submission and Online Archiving of Theses and Dissertations

As of Winter Quarter 2012, all UCSC dissertations and theses are being submitted in electronic instead of paper format. As part of the submission process at the ProQuest/UMI website, students will complete the following University Agreement:

It is the policy of the University of California Santa Cruz to encourage the distribution of all theses and dissertations. Electronic copies of all UCSC theses and dissertations will be routed to the University Library. The Library will preserve and make accessible to the public all theses and dissertations in accordance with Library policies and best practices. Such access includes, but is not limited to online access to the public through platforms such eScholarship, the University of California’s open access institutional repository. Providing such access increases the availability and dissemination of your work at no charge to students, a benefit ProQuest/UMI provides only for a fee. If a student is approved to delay the release of his or her dissertation, the library will provide access to the electronically submitted dissertation when the embargo period concludes.

Since theses and dissertations are no longer being submitted on paper, we are no longer archiving paper copies; we archive the digital files instead. As mentioned above, ProQuest provides Open Access archiving of theses and dissertations; they charge a $95 fee for this service, which they call Open Access Publishing PLUS. As a UCSC student, you do not need to pay this fee to ensure global distribution of your work. Regardless of whether you select Traditional Publishing or Open Access Publishing PLUS, ProQuest will send a copy of your file(s) to the library, after which we will post them on eScholarship, where readers can access them from links you send them or from any web search, including Google Scholar. You will also be able to view statistics about how many times your work has been viewed and downloaded.

To see UCSC theses and dissertations already available on eScholarship, click here.

I want to include something someone else created in my dissertation or thesis. Do I have to get permission?

Many or most uses of images, quotations, and other materials in a thesis or dissertation would be fair use (please see the tab on Fair Use Basics for more information), but you cannot assume that an academic purpose automatically guarantees fair use. The key questions are basically: How are you using it? and Are you using an appropriate amount?

At one end of the spectrum, imagine a short quotation, or an image reproduced at a viewing-friendly (but not reproduction-friendly) resolution, and a dissertation that discusses and critiques that image or quotation. The writer is using the material to make a particular point important to their scholarship, and adding to academic discourse on the subject. No one is going to use the dissertation as a substitute for the original work. Few or no copyright owners would object to this type of use as a fair use, requiring no permission, and it is hard to imagine a successful challenge if they did. The analysis generally changes little for dissertations on the internet; you may want to consider whether you have included, for example, so many things from the same creator or at such a high quality that people would download a copy of your dissertation rather than buying a copy of the work.

On the other end of the spectrum, imagine a writer who wants to discuss one paragraph of another writer's work, but quotes ten pages that are not discussed. Imagine a writer who includes several images from a particular artist, in a format that shows more detail than a user needs to understand the writer's text, or is suitable for poster printing. Even though the writer is creating scholarship and has a noncommercial purpose, the amount used is more than is appropriate.

Many uses will fall somewhere between these two extremes, but in our experience most students writing a dissertation will fall closer to the first case. The nature of a thesis is that most external content is included because the author is making a point about it. Various guidelines exist to help evaluate different kinds of uses in the context of theses and dissertations, such as these from Proquest/UMI

A chapter in my dissertation was previously/will soon be published as a journal article. Do I need to get copyright permission from the journal?

It depends. Often when articles are published authors transfer their copyright to the journal publisher, who may or may not have a policy of permitting re-use by the author. However, this is such a common situation that many publisher policies explicitly allow it. Below are some examples from the standard agreements of a few large publishers; check the publishing agreement from your journal to see if it has a similar provision.

  • Springer: "The author retains the right to use his/her article for his/her further scientific career by including the final published journal article in other publications such as dissertations and postdoctoral qualifications provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication."
  • Wiley: "Re-use in other publications. The right to re-use the final Contribution or parts thereof for any publication authored or edited by the Contributor (excluding journal articles) where such re-used material constitutes less than half of the total material in such publication. In such case, any modifications should be accurately noted."
  • Elsevier: "Personal Use: Use by an author in the author’s classroom teaching (including  distribution of copies, paper or electronic), distribution of copies to research colleagues for their personal use, use in a subsequent compilation of the author’s works, inclusion in a thesis or dissertation, preparation of other derivative works such as extending the article to book-length form, or otherwise using or re-using portions or excerpts in other works (with full acknowledgment of the original publication of the article)." (one of the author's "Retained Rights.")

Publishing Options: Delaying the Release of Your Work

As part of the submission process at the ProQuest/UMI website, students will have the option to embargo their thesis or dissertation for up to two years. If a student chooses this option, the full text of the thesis/dissertation will not be available through ProQuest/UMI or posted Open Access in eScholarship. ProQuest/UMI will still post the abstract and description you provide, and your thesis or dissertation will still be listed in the library catalog. 

Most students opt to give broad reach to their work immediately rather than choosing an embargo. Reasons students have chosen to embargo their theses/dissertations include:

  • It is based on data that will be used for other/future publications of a research group, and the research group wishes the thesis/dissertation embargoed until these other works are published. If you think this situation applies to you, discuss it with your research group and advisor.
  • The student plans on obtaining a patent based on work in your thesis/dissertation.
  • The student is under grant or contract obligations that forbid publication in these circumstances.
  • The student plans on, or already has a contract to publish the thesis/dissertation with a publisher who requires that the work not be published elswhere.  Generally, theses and dissertations require revision and editing prior to publication to such an extent that publishing this original version is not an obstacle to a later publishing contract. Read more about this here.

ProQuest/UMI also offers embargo options for students concerned that their thesis or dissertation contains sensitive material, or copyrighted material included in a manner or amount beyond what is allowed by fair use. However, an embargo is only temporary. If a thesis or dissertation contains information of a sensitive personal nature or would violate copyright if published online, it is likely that it will still do so when the embargo concludes and the item is eventually posted. Students concerned about these issues may wish to speak to their advisor about editing their thesis or preparing a redacted version.

Subject Guide

Useful Links about Electronic Dissertations and Theses

Should I Register My Copyright?

You automatically own the copyright in your dissertation or thesis as soon as you create it, regardless of whether you register it. Most students choose not to register. Those who do register their copyrights do so because they value having their copyright ownership officially and publicly recorded, or because having a registered copyright is required in order to sue someone for infringement.

If you decide to register your copyright, you can do so

See page 7 of this circular from the Copyright Office to learn more about the potential advantages of copyright registration.

Usage Reports

Did you know?

If your dissertation or thesis is in eScholarship and you haven't been receiving usage reports, you can contact eScholarship to give a permanent or updated e-mail address. You will then recieve monthly reports via e-mail with the number of times your work has been viewed.