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Proposed Presidential Policy on Open Access for Theses and Dissertations

A proposed new presidential policy on open access theses and dissertations is open for systemwide review until February 28, 2018. All members of the UC community are invited to comment on the draft policy. Visit the UC Academic Affairs website to read the draft policy, a cover letter with instructions on where to send comments, and a set of Frequently Asked Questions.

The draft policy was written by a task force including graduate students as well as representatives of the Graduate Deans, the Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs, the UC Libraries, and others. If passed, the policy will expand the University of California’s commitment to disseminating UC research as widely as possible by building on the Academic Senate and Presidential open access policies already in place. Like its predecessors, this policy on open access theses and dissertations would enable California and the rest of the world to freely access the research of UC scholars and, likewise, would improve the ability of UC’s graduates to reach a global audience.

Many UC dissertations are already freely available to read online; the draft policy would align practices across the UC system by requiring all new UC dissertations and theses to be made open access. The policy does not affect copyright ownership, which remains with graduate student authors absent unusual circumstances. Students who do not want their work to be available immediately can specify an embargo period.

Currently, all campuses make their dissertations available in ProQuest’s Dissertations and Theses database. This database is run by a commercial company and provides access for paying subscribers – including UC – and for users who want to purchase an individual thesis or dissertation from ProQuest. Students who want to make their thesis or dissertation available for non-subscribers can pay ProQuest $95 to also have their work added to PQDT Open, ProQuest’s open access version of the database.

Seven campuses additionally deposit their dissertations (and in most cases, theses) in eScholarship, UC’s open access repository and publishing platform. If the draft policy is passed, the graduate divisions at all ten campuses will be responsible for providing dissertations and theses to eScholarship (which already hosts over 25,000 UC dissertations and theses, as well as  nearly 50,000 publications covered by UC’s open access policies for scholarly articles).

Current availability of UC dissertations and theses,
without a systemwide policy

In addition to adding the theses and dissertations from three more campuses to eScholarship, the policy aims to increase clarity and consistency around embargoes and other electronic thesis and dissertation concerns across the campuses. Here are a few excerpts from the FAQ that accompanies the policy:

Does this policy affect copyright ownership in my thesis or dissertation?

No. This policy does not affect or transfer your ownership of copyright or intellectual property rights in your thesis or dissertation.

Does this Open Access for Theses and Dissertations Policy allow commercial use by eScholarship users or other end users?

No, unless the author of the thesis/dissertation chooses to allow commercial reuse. … [A]uthors may choose to grant eScholarship users and other end users reuse permissions, including commercial reuse, by choosing a Creative Commons license for their thesis/dissertation at the time of deposit, if their campus submission form supports these licenses.

Can I delay the release of my thesis or dissertation in an open access repository?

Yes. … Under this policy, an embargo period of up to two years may be requested upon filing. If there are compelling circumstances, you may be able to obtain an embargo of longer than two years. Please see Section III.D (“Delay of Open Access / Embargo”) of the policy.

Will journal or book publishers consider publishing my thesis/dissertation if it is already available in an open access repository, like eScholarship?

Yes. Though the policies and practices of publishers vary (especially depending on the discipline), generally speaking, scholarly publishers do not bar publication of articles or books that are based on theses or dissertations available in an open access repository, especially if there are substantive differences between the thesis/dissertation and the final work published by the publisher. This is partly because most publishers consider theses and dissertations to be “student works” that will require substantial editing and revision before being published in article or book form.

To read the full answers to these questions and several more, as well as the full text of the policy itself, visit the draft policy’s page at the UC Academic Affairs website.

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