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Formatting your Thesis and Dissertation:Tools,Tips and Troubleshooting

Understanding Embargoes

What is an Embargo?

In academia, an "embargo" is a restriction placed on a thesis or dissertation that allows only the title, abstract and citation information to be released to the public, while the full text of the work is kept hidden for a limited period of time. Embargoes typically last from one to five years following the publication of a thesis or dissertation via a university's Institutional Repository or some other publishing service (e.g. ProQuest). 

Some colleges and universities encourage all authors to embargo their work, while others (such as Florida Tech) discourage embargoes except when they are absolutely needed.

Reasons not to Embargo

  • The more accessible your thesis or dissertation is, the more likely it is to be cited.
  • Making your thesis or dissertation accessible allows it to be scrutinized by others in the field, prompting collegiality.
  • You don't want to be plagiarized
    • If you are worried about copyright infringement and/or plagiarism, then you should get your idea out there as soon as possible so that it is documented and accessible. That way, you have proof that the idea originated from you and that the alleged infringer had access to your work. While copyright protection is automatic, people who are concerned about copyright infringement can also register copyright in it with the U.S. Copyright Office. ProQuest will do this for you for an additional fee, or you can do it yourself at Registration provides statutory damages and attorney's fees in the event of an infringement.
  • Having theses or dissertations available helps future scholars about the process of scholarship.
  • You do not intend to pursue a tenure-track position.

Why Embargo a Thesis or Dissertation?

Most theses and dissertations are not embargoed but are made publicly available following their formal defense as part of completing a master's or doctoral degree. Some reason to embargo a thesis or dissertation include:

  • The author wants to patent something described in the work.
  • The author wants to publish the work in whole or in part in the future and is concerned that making the work public will interfere with this.
  • The author has previously published the work in whole or in part, and the publisher is restricting the public release of the work in some way. 
  • The dissertation includes data covered by a nondisclosure agreement for a specified period of time, including personal information, company secrets, or intellectual property.

What are Florida Tech's Embargo Guidelines?

The standard embargo options for theses and dissertations at Florida tech include: Six months, One year, and Two years. If needed, you can also specifiy a different desired embargo timeframe. All requested embargos require a justification. The standard options for embargo justification are publishing process and patent filing process, However, if needed, you can specify a different justification.


Image of Embargo Options section of Electronic Theses and Dissertation (ETD) Access Form

Select access Option 1 or Option 2

Option 1: Immediate worldwide access - The thesis will be freely available on the Internet to all users. (Recommended)

Option 2: Embargoed access – Graduate students and their faculty advisor may request to embargo the release of their thesis or dissertation for up to 2 years (or longer by special request). The Embargoed Access Option is recommended if, for example, you plan to submit patent application or publication (although most publishers will not automatically dismiss papers derived from online theses). The thesis will not be available to anyone outside Florida Tech for (choose only one time period and indicate your justification):

Should I Embargo My Thesis or Dissertation?

Always discuss the pros and cons of embargoing your thesis or dissertation with your advisor prior to submitting your work. Below are links to recent articles that address this question:

How Do I Get Access to an Embargoed Thesis or Dissertation?

If you learn about a thesis or dissertation that you want to read but it currently is embargoed, your best bet is to contact the author. Additionally, if you try to access a document that is embargoed, you will be directed to a form where you can request access.

If you are having difficulty finding contact information for the author, try contacting your library or the university library at which the author earned his or her degree. 

Many thanks to Kay Coates, Zach Henderson Library at Georgia Southern University and  Shayna Pekala, Scholarly Communications Office at Indiana University, for permission to reuse content.