Duke University Phd Dissertations

After you have submitted your electronic thesis or dissertation and The Graduate School has approved it, it will be available as follows:

  • The full text will be openly available in DukeSpace, Duke University Libraries’ digital repository, at a unique, permanent URL.
  • A description will appear in the library catalog, with a link to the text in DukeSpace.
  • Your thesis or dissertation will be indexed and available through search engines such as Google.

Open access to your thesis or dissertation as described above does not affect your copyright or ownership of the content of your thesis or dissertation.

Restricting Access to an ETD (Embargo)

While open access is the default, you will be offered several options for restricting access (referred to as an embargo) when submitting your thesis or dissertation through ProQuest. These same embargoes will be applied to the copy made available through DukeSpace. Embargo options should be discussed with your adviser, and both the adviser and the thesis or dissertation author must sign the availability options section of the Nonexclusive Distribution License and Thesis/Dissertation Availability Agreement (PDF).

When to Consider an Embargo

Some scenarios when you might want to restrict access to your thesis or dissertation:

  • If your work is based on data generated through research that will support other publications from people on the research team (such as your adviser), it may be necessary to refrain from releasing that data, as it underlies your dissertation, while other publications are prepared. The embargo options in these situations should be discussed with your committee and research team.
  • If you plan to apply for a patent based on research that is discussed in your dissertation, you should be aware of the rules governing prior publication of material for which a patent is sought. Generally, once patent applicants publish their ideas or invention, they have a one-year window. After one year, the applicant’s own publication may be considered “prior art” that could prevent the issuance of a patent. Since electronic distribution of your dissertation through either ProQuest or DukeSpace is publication for this purpose, an embargo will delay the beginning of this one-year time clock against a potential patent application. By selecting a two-year embargo, therefore, you will have a total of three years (two-year embargo plus one-year window after publication) to submit a patent application.
  • If your thesis or dissertation contains data or material that was generated pursuant to a grant or contract and the thesis or dissertation is subject to review by the sponsor or grantor prior to publication, you should select at least a six-month embargo. If you are unsure whether your research falls into this area, contact Export Controls at the Office of Research Support (919-668-2711).

If you are planning to publish all or part of your thesis/dissertation and know that publishers in your field consider open access electronic thesis/dissertations to be a prior publication, you may want to consider an embargo or check on their open access policy before submitting your thesis or dissertation. For more information, see the Publishing Concerns page.

Embargo Lengths

Duke offers three embargo options: six months, one year, and two years. These options are available when you are uploading your PDF to ProQuest. The embargo period begins from the date The Graduate School approves your thesis or dissertation and lasts for the selected time period. If you select an embargo, your thesis or dissertation will not be available through DukeSpace or ProQuest until the end of the embargo period. The title, abstract, attribution information, and subject classification will be available during and after the embargo in DukeSpace and the Library catalog.

Extending an embargo on DukeSpace

If you choose to embargo your thesis or dissertation when you submit it, and if at any time during the embargo period you subsequently decide that you wish to extend the embargo on electronic access to your thesis or dissertation on DukeSpace, write a brief e-mail requesting an extension to The Graduate School's Office of Academic Affairs (gradacademics@duke.edu) and Matthew Farrell (matthew.j.farrell@duke.edu) at Duke University Libraries. Provide your full name, the title of your thesis or dissertation, your graduation date, and your e-mail address.

If you exercise an extension, open electronic access to your thesis or dissertation through DukeSpace will not be available until five years after your defense. Be aware that this does not affect your embargo selection with ProQuest (six months, one year, two years), which is a separate distribution contract between the author (you) and ProQuest.

Paper copies

While the electronic copy is the official university copy kept by Duke University Libraries and University Archives, you still have several options if you, your family members, or your adviser would like a paper copy.

  • Order a bound copy (paper or hardback) through ProQuest
  • Take a paper copy to the University Bookstore, where it can be bound with a library-style binding
  • Have a local copy center bind it for you
Who owns the copyright in my thesis or dissertation?

You do! You are the owner of the copyright in your work from the moment it is fixed in a tangible form, including computer memory. You continue to own that copyright until you transfer it to another party. A transfer of copyright must be in writing.

Should I register my copyright with the Copyright Office?

It is not required that you register with the Copyright Office in order to enjoy copyright protection. Such protection is automatic, coming into effect at the moment original work is fixed in a tangible medium.

However, registration has certain advantages. First, if your work is registered you have strong evidence that you are indeed the author of the work and the owner of its copyright. Also, registration is necessary to enforce a copyright against an infringer or plagiarist. For these reasons, Duke recommends that you register copyright of your thesis or dissertation. This can be done online directly through the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov for a basic fee of $35 or through ProQuest, who will register the copyright for you and in your name for a fee of $65.

What effect does the license Duke asks me to sign when I submit my thesis or dissertation have?

Licenses are permission you give to others to use your work in ways that would otherwise not be permitted by copyright law. Licenses are permission; they are not a transfer of your copyright. Duke requires that you give a license to the university to put your thesis or dissertation in our repository of electronic theses and dissertations and to make it available on the Internet under the terms of a Creative Commons license. This means that Duke can distribute your work in a way that allows other scholars to read it and use it for noncommercial purposes, as long as they do not make changes to your work and always give you credit. This license is designed to enable scholarship and to protect you from plagiarism.

Since this permission that you grant to Duke does not transfer copyright ownership, you continue to hold all of the rights in the copyright “bundle” (the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, display and perform your work, as well as the right to authorize derivative works). These rights will now be subject to the license given to Duke, but nothing in the license will prevent you from transferring your copyright to some other party at a later date if you wish to do so.

Can I use copyrighted material from other people (quotations, images, etc.) in my electronic thesis or dissertation?

Quotations from other writers are a regular part of most scholarship and are generally consider a classic example of fair use. Fair use is an exception to the copyright holder’s exclusive rights. It provides an indispensable opportunity for scholarship, since so much of research involves building upon the insights of others.

There is no exact rule about how much one may quote and remain within the boundaries of fair use. Various guidelines that offer specific numbers of words or lines are advisory and do not have the force of law. In general, quotations from the work of others should be no longer than is necessary to support the scholarly point you wish to make. When you are subjecting the quoted material (or images that are reproduced) to scholarly criticism or comment, you have more leeway for fair use than in many other situations, but you should be sure that you do not use more of someone else’s work than is necessary for the argument that you are making in your own thesis or dissertation.

When something is fair use, permission from the copyright holder is not required. If you are using a large amount of text or images, however, and/or that material is not the subject of a specific scholarly analysis, you may want to seek permission. The library staff can help you locate the appropriate person or agency to ask.

In the case of images, you should be sure that the pictures you reproduce are closely tied to your research goals and are each made the subject of specific scholarly comment. If you use a large number of copyright-protected images by a single artist, or in some other way threaten to supersede the market for the original works, it is wise to seek permission.

More information, along with fairly conservative estimates of fair use for different media, can be found on the copyright guide (PDF) provided by ProQuest.

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