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TGS Suspends Dissertation Embargo Policy

Modified: December 1, 2015

Last year, The Graduate School introduced a policy on embargoes intended to balance graduate students' ability to protect their work and the responsibility of institutions to share new knowledge. A dissertation embargo allows a student to delay public release of his or her dissertation via ProQuest's digital platform for a specified period of time in light of valid concerns about the protection of intellectual property. This issue is a complex one, and TGS has been in conversation with members of our community regarding the implementation of the embargo policy, particularly as regards the unique publication challenges faced by students in the humanities and social sciences.

Accordingly, the TGS dissertation embargo policy has been suspended pending further review and has been noted as such on the School's website. This means that TGS will revert to the previous procedure in which graduate students—in consultation with their advisors—determine the best course of action regarding ProQuest’s publishing of their dissertations. 

In the coming year, TGS will be further exploring this issue based on consultation with students, faculty, researchers, academic publishers, the University library, and peer institutions as well as the results of a forthcoming study on the question recently launched by ProQuest and the Council of Graduate Schools. Moving forward with this information will allow us to better evaluate our relationship with ProQuest as well as the significance of a Northwestern-based dissertation repository, while allowing us to make sure our policies are in line with nation-wide best practices for knowledge dissemination.