Availability of Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Once a student submits an electronic thesis or dissertation to the Graduate School and it has been approved, it will be available as follows

  • The full text of the thesis will be available through Digital Commons. 
  • The full text of the dissertation will be available through Digital Commons and ProQuest (unless embargoed).
  • Students’ documents will be available at permanent, unique URLs and will be indexed and available through the Library Catalog.

While Traditional Publishing from these repositories is the recommended publishing option, there are several options for restricting access (known as embargo).  Before a student chooses to embargo, we encourage them to discuss these options with their advisor.  Should a student choose to embargo a dissertation, it will only be uploaded to ProQuest. 

Why Embargo?

The following are some scenarios when an embargo should be considered:

  1. The work is based on data generated through research that will support other publications from people within the same research team (i.e. advisor).  As a result, it may be necessary to refrain from releasing that data while other publications are prepared. This option should be discussed with the advisor.
  2. If the student is applying for patents based on research discussed in the dissertation, be aware of the rules governing 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 which the applicant’s own publication may be considered “prior art” and prevent the issuance of a patent. By selecting a two-year embargo, the student will have a total of three years (2 year embargo plus 1 year window after publication) to submit a patent application.
  3. If the student is planning to publish all or part of the thesis/dissertation and knows that publishers in the field consider Open Access electronic thesis/dissertations to be prior publication, the student should consider an embargo. Check publishers’ policies before submitting the thesis/dissertation.
  4. If the thesis/dissertation contains data or material that was generated pursuant to a grant or contract and the thesis/dissertation is subject to review by the sponsor or grantor prior to publication, the student will want to select at least a six-month embargo. The funding contract should further describe review policies.

Options for Restricting Access to an ETD (Embargo)

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers three embargo options through ProQuest (for dissertations only) and Digital Commons (for thesis only): six months, one year, and two years.

These options are available when the student uploads the PDF of the dissertation to ProQuest or the thesis to Digital Commons.

The Process of Placing the Embargo

Doctoral Dissertations

To upload to ProQuest, the student creates an account and logs in to submit the dissertation. Once logged into the Publishing Options page, the student will:

  1. Select Traditional Publishing as the type of publishing.  This option still allows search engines and digital storage of the document.
  2. If the student wants major search engines to “discover” their work, the student would select Major Search Engines.
  3. The student clicks on the link “I don’t want my work sold to third parties.”
  4. The student clicks on “No, I don’t want my work to be available in ProQuest as soon as it is published.”
    1. The student will be asked to select one of the following embargo options: six months, 1 year or 2 years.  The student also may include a short note to the administrator here as well.
    2. There is a drop down box to list the reason for the delay.
  5. Once the student clicks Save & Continue, all the options will be saved and the student can proceed with the remainder of the upload. The dissertation will not be released until the embargo time period is over.
  6. A note about the length of the embargo should be included in the Electronic Dissertation Information Sheet which is submitted during the depositing.
  7. Students can contact Eva Bachman, Doctoral Programs Specialist, if they have questions about the upload process.

Creative Dissertations: English majors in creative writing hoping to publish their entire dissertation prepare only a title page and abstract for upload. A full paper copy of the dissertation is required to be deposited in the Library in lieu of upload.  Students in this major have up to an additional three years to embargo unless a contract states otherwise.

The embargo period begins from the date Graduate Studies approves the dissertation and remains for the selected time period.  If the student embargoes the dissertation, it will not be available in 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 the Library Catalog.

If the student wishes to extend an existing embargo of electronic access on their document, they should email Mark Larson, UNL Libraries, indicating the length of time the student wishes to extend the embargo. Include in the email the title of the dissertation, full name, graduation date and email address. This email will postpone the electronic release of the dissertation in ProQuest. The maximum time to embargo a dissertation is five years.

Masters Theses

During the thesis approval process, students should notify Terri Eastin, Masters Program Specialist, if they wish to embargo the thesis. The embargo period begins the date Graduate Studies approves the thesis and remains for the selected time period.  If the student chooses to embargo the thesis, it will not be available in Digital Commons until the end of the embargo period.  The title, abstract, attribution information and subject classification will be available during and after the embargo in the Library Catalog.

After the student receives approval to upload, they are directed to the following URL to upload and place an embargo in Digital Commons:  http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/ir_submit.cgi?context=embargotheses.  The student has the option to embargo the thesis/dissertation for six months, 1 year or 2 years. The student may wish to review availability of their document at the end of the embargo time limit.

Paper copies

While the official university copy kept by the Library and University Archives is the electronic copy, students still have several options if they, their family members, or their advisor(s) would like a paper copy:

  • Students can order a bound copy or copies (paper or hardback) through ProQuest
  • Students can take their PDF file or a paper copy to the University Printing Services (1700 Y St), where it can be bound with a library-style binding
  • Students can have a local copy center bind it for them (Kinko's, Staples, etc.)