Embargoes of ETDs
The broad availability of theses and dissertations in electronic form has raised
concerns among a small number of sectors of the academy. Some graduate
students have been warned by their advisors or threatened by publishers that
if they allow open access to their work, it will preclude future publication of
the content in certain journals or as a monograph. The key issue is that certain
publishers consider that openly accessible theses and dissertations constitute
publication. Disappointingly, the most prominent and vocal of these
publishers seem to be primarily scholarly and professional societies, where
one might hope for greater alignment with the broad interests of the academy.
Charles B. Lowry notes that the level of concern about ETDs in repositories is
often related to a fairly small number of specific disciplines, and that limited-
period embargo policies, that keep the ETD from public view for a specified
period of time, will often address those concerns.5 In our survey, 87% of the
institutions had a policy allowing students to request a limited-time embargo,
and 10% had a policy allowing students to request a permanent embargo.
This “prior publication” issue is one that has impacted the adoption of
ETD programs in the US. In the CNI survey, we asked, “In discussions among
stakeholders on campus, what is your perception of the issues that
discouraged implementation of an ETD program at your institution?”
Respondents were asked to answer this question whether or not they had
already implemented an institutional ETD program. Respondents could
choose more than one concern, and most of them did. It is interesting to note
that institutions that have already implemented an ETD program expressed
more concerns by faculty and students over the prior publication issue than
institutions without an ETD program. Presumably those concerns were
addressed at least in part by policies such as embargo periods, and this helps
to explain the high rate of availability of this option among institutions that
have implemented an ETD program. Concerns about adequate technical
support and general disinterest in change received the aggregate highest total
of responses (somewhat important and important) for institutions without
ETD programs. The results are displayed in Table 1 below.
RLI 270
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ETDs and Graduate Education: Programs and Prospects
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C O N T I N U E D
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JUNE 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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