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Syracuse University Libraries

Electronic Theses and Dissertations: ETDs Publishing Options and Embargoes

Open Access Publishing

Open access publishing and publications have experienced substantial growth, expansion and uptake in recent years. What exactly is an open access publication? There are many definitions, but in a nutshell an open access publication is a publication that provides immediately free online access to all users worldwide.

This may sound like a tall order, and yet there are to date over 4000 journal publications that fit this definition. The need for this type of access has been driven by the out-of-control costs for scholarly publications. Statistics kept by the Association for Research Libraries show that that between 1986 and 2006 journal prices have increased by 321%, while inflation has increased 68%. At research institutions around the world, scholarly work is submitted to commercial publishers only to be bought back by libraries at those same institutions at immense costs. The current system of scholarly publishing is not sustainable. Today the LANL Research Library has a world-class journal collection in science and technology which is under siege and will not last without changes in scholarly publishing.

So, why should you consider publishing in an open access publication?

  • Increased dissemination
  • Articles can be cited sooner
  • Articles potentially cited more frequently
  • Institutional costs for scholarly publishing are decreased

Publishing Options Overview

There are two types of publishing options available (1) traditional and (2) open access. The Traditional option is provided and managed by ProQuest. It is a required and a default option in the system. Open access is provided by SUrface (SU’s digital repository) and is an opt-out option.

  • Through the traditional option, full text dissertations and/or theses will be available through  ProQuest to people who have an individual subscription to the database; whose affiliated institution has a subscription to the database; or who pay the article viewing fee.
  • By choosing open access (SUrface), the full-text dissertations and/or theses will be available to the general public for free and searchable via search engines (like google). Students can opt out of the open access option by choosing "NEVER Release my work to SUrface".  

Under each option, students can also apply an embargo to their dissertation and/or thesis, which is a restriction placed on the dissertation and/or thesis for a specified length of time. For example, if a 6-month embargo is placed on the work, the dissertation and/or thesis will be not available until 6 months later after student’s official degree date.  Embargo periods are usually 6 months, 1 year and 2 years. If necessary, longer embargo periods may also be requested with approval from Dean of the Graduate School.

Reasons to choose open access

  1. When dissertations and theses are publicly available, your scholarship is available to anyone who might want to read it. That means more recognition, more impact, and more citations to your work by other researchers
  2. By choosing open access, you will have the ability to share a download link with potential employers and colleagues. (Campus access theses and dissertations can only be downloaded by those with a valid, current Syracuse University login and password.  This means potential employers, colleagues, friends, family, and even you will not be able to freely access your work.)
  3. Improve the dissemination of knowledge and the advancement of research by making your scholarship freely available online.

Reasons you might consider choosing an embargo

  1. You have concerns about your ability to publish your dissertation or thesis as a book or journal article.  Keep in mind that dissertations and theses that will later be published as books or journal articles are likely to require extensive revision, and the open availability of the dissertation or thesis should not be presumed to undercut its future market.  However, you should be informed about whether publishers in your field consider open access electronic dissertations or theses to be a prior publication.  You may want to consider an embargo or check on publishers' open access policies before submitting your dissertation.
  2. 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 to file for a patent. 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 ScholarWorks 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 six month embargo, you will have a total of 18 months to submit a patent application.  If necessary, longer embargo periods may also be requested with approval of the Graduate School Dean.