Publishing Options, Embargo, & Copyright

Publishing Options, Embargo, & Copyright Topics

Students relax in the shade of a large tree by Lake Spafford in the Arboretum as ducks swim in the lake.  The spring weather is warm for students to study on the grass.


Copyright Workshop for Graduate Students & Postdocs

  ► Next Workshop October 31st 2023 2:30 - 3:30pm (Register Here


UC Davis Scholarly Communications Officer Michael Ladisch helps graduate students and postdocs clarify copyright questions such as:
• Do I need permission to use copyrighted material in my dissertation?
• Do I have to register copyright for my work and how do I do it?
• Can I use parts of my dissertation in a journal article?
• Can I publish parts of my dissertation as a book?
• What is the UC Policy on Open Access for Theses and Dissertation?
• What is an embargo and should I apply it to my thesis?
• What are Creative Common licenses?

Requirement for Open Access Release

The University of California is committed to disseminating research and scholarship conducted at the University as widely as possible. The UC Policy on Open Access for Theses and Dissertations requires the deposit of theses and dissertations in an open access repository to be freely and openly available to the public, subject to an embargo obtained by the student. For more information on the policy visit the UC Policy webpage.

Previously, the full text of electronic theses and dissertations was freely accessible only to researchers from UC campuses and those with ProQuest accounts, unless the student paid an additional fee to ProQuest for open access release. Through a partnership between UC Davis Graduate Studies, the UC Davis Library, and the California Digital Library, theses and dissertations filed for the Spring 2021 degree list and forward will be available for open access through eScholarship (UC’s open access repository and publishing platform), aligning UC Davis with the practices of the other UC campuses and with many institutions world-wide.  This means more publishers, researchers, and potential collaborators may freely access your thesis or dissertation.

The UC Davis Library offers an excellent list of resources to encourage and support Open Access publishing. 

More information about open access is available on the UC Office of Scholarly Communication website.

Immediate Release & Embargo

On the Thesis/Dissertation Release Agreement form, you are asked whether you would like your thesis or dissertation released to the public immediately after your degree is awarded or after a period of delay called an embargo.  Depending on your field, past or future publication considerations, and the content of your paper, you may or may not wish to delay open access.  

Important Note: When submitting your ProQuest ETD upload, select the 'traditional' .  Do NOT opt for the Open Access Plus publishing option available .  This option requires payment of a fee for a service that is provided to UC Davis students automatically and at no cost through UC eScholarship. 

  • Immediate release - your thesis or dissertation will be delivered to ProQuest for release and separately open access released through eScholarship, shortly after your degree has been officially awarded.  See the ‘Process for Open Access’ FAQ below for timing info.  
  • 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 unviewable for a period of time. Embargoes of the UC Davis thesis or dissertation are permitted for a minimum of six months and up to six years with approval of the major professor.

Here are some articles that may be helpful in deciding whether or not to embargo your thesis or dissertation:

Embargo and Open Access Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why Not to Embargo?
  • • You want to publish your work, but don’t yet have an agreement - The more accessible your thesis or dissertation is, the more likely it is to be seen and cited.
    •  To build collegiality - Making your thesis or dissertation accessible allows it to be reviewed and scrutinized by others in your field, potentially expanding your own network of collaborators and benefitting scholars in your field.  
    •  You do not intend to pursue a tenure-track position.
    •  You are concerned about being plagiarized:
    •  If you are worried about copyright infringement and/or plagiarism, then it may be beneficial to release your work as soon as possible. That way, you have proof that the ideas 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 with the U.S. Copyright Office. See more about copyright registration below.

    Additional notes about immediate release and institutional deposit to eScholarship:
    •  Public release and institutional deposit do not affect your rights as an author - you retain copyright, and are free to publish all or portions of your work.
    •  University surveys in the US and abroad consistently show the benefits of institutional deposit for those looking to publish their work - i.e. publishers may look at how frequently the electronic version of the thesis or dissertation is viewed as evidence of the work's likely commercial appeal.
    •  Only a small number of publishers consider institutional deposit of the thesis or dissertation as a publication.
    •  Publishers who DO consider institutional deposit as a publication are normally referring to cases where they intend to publish the full paper as-is.
  • Why Embargo?
  • •  The author plans to publish their work in full or in part in the future, and does not want it publicly available until after that time, and/or the publisher has explicitly told the author not to release their work.
    •  Many publishers do not consider open access of the thesis or dissertation to be a prior publication.  If possible, verify standard guidelines with current or potential publishers.
    •  The author has previously published the work in full or in part, and the publisher has communicated that public release should not be permitted.
    •  The thesis or dissertation contains copyrighted work that belongs to a third-party who has not given permission to redistribute it, and your use in the paper is not a fair use.
    •  The work contains an idea or item the author wishes to patent.
    •  The work contains news-worthy information that has not broken publicly.
    •  The work contains sensitive information that could cause harm to the author or others if released.
    •  The work contains information covered by a non-disclosure agreement.
    •  Embargo may also be recommended more often within certain fields such as the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education, where dissertations are more likely to be published as a whole with only minor changes.    
  • Can I Embargo for More than Six Years or Permanently?
  • Embargoes longer than six years or permanent embargoes are permitted in certain circumstances - most commonly because of sensitive material within the work or because of contractual agreements with publishers from prior publication of all or part of the work.  If you would like to apply for a longer or permanent embargo, notate the length of time on your Immediate Release or Embargo Agreement form.  You must also obtain the signature of your Graduate Program Chair, and include a statement of support and explanation from your Major Professor along with the form.  

    Your request for a longer or permanent embargo will be reviewed by the UC Davis Graduate Council, and you will be notified after the determination is made.  Your Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies will place a temporary six year embargo on your ProQuest ETD upload pending the decision of the Graduate Council.  

  • How do I Opt for an Embargo on ProQuest ETD
  • In addition to notating your embargo on the  Immediate Release or Embargo Agreement form, you must also designate the embargo during the online submission process to ProQuest.  In the Publishing Options section, you will select a response to the statement I want my work to be available in ProQuest as soon as it is publishedIf you plan to embargo, select No, I have patents pending, or another reason why I need to delay access to the full text of my work, then select the length of embargo.
  • What is the Process for Open Access Release of my Thesis or Dissertation?
  • The UC Davis Academic Senate confirms the final degree list and officially awards the degree approximately eight weeks after your date of graduation.  At that point, your thesis or dissertation will be delivered to ProQuest ETD and the California Digital Library.  If you’ve opted for immediate release, your thesis or dissertation will be released through open access at that time.  If you’ve embargoed your work, the thesis or dissertation text will be released through open access after the term of embargo has passed.  

Copyright and Copyright Registration

The information in this section is intended for informational purposes, and should not be construed as legal advice.  

Copyright, per Title 17 of the US Code, is a legal protection that provides you exclusive rights to make certain uses of your work for a limited period of time (currently, the life of the author plus 70 years). Exclusive rights include the rights to: reproduce the work, make derivatives of the original work, distribute the work, perform the work publicly, and display the work publicly

The UC Copyright Ownership Policy confirms that graduate students are the copyright owners of their thesis or dissertation.  Other links for information about copyright and copyright registration include:

Copyright Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is my Thesis or Dissertation Copyright Protected?
  • Your thesis or dissertation is automatically protected by copyright when it is written (put in a "fixed form"). Release through ProQuest and eScholarship provides an independently verified date of record for your copyright.  You are the holder of the copyright for your work unless you transfer it, e.g. publishing in a journal often requires transfer of the copyright to the publisher.  
  • Can I use Copyrighted Material in my Paper?
  • If you are using copyrighted materials in your thesis or dissertation, beyond brief excerpts, you must obtain the written permission from the copyright owner.  Normally publishers hold the copyright for all materials they publish, so even if you are the sole or one of several authors of material in a published book or journal, you must obtain written permission from the copyright holder if you .  Use of reproductions or excerpts of other media, such as music, graphic images, or computer software may also require permissions.

    Your letter or email to the copyright holder needs to make clear that you are requesting written permission (an email confirmation is sufficient) to preserve and openly publish your thesis or dissertation, in print and digital form, through ProQuest, eScholarship, and the UC Davis Library.  ProQuest may also sell, for scholarly purposes, single copies of your work that include the copyright holder's material.  

    You may include any permission letter received in the appendix section of your paper, and/or list permitted copyrighted material on your acknowledgements page.  Some publishers may designate a specific location or format for citation for approved copyrighted material.  You are responsible for securing all necessary permissions and paying any applicable permission fees in advance of using copyrighted materials in your thesis or dissertation.
  • Can I Use Published Material I Authored or Co-Authored?
  • With approval of your committee, all or a portion of your thesis or dissertation may be your own published or publishing pending work. If you are not the copyright holder, you must follow the procedure above for requesting permission to include copyrighted material.   If your work is co-authored, your Graduate Program Chair must approve inclusion of the work in your dissertation or thesis.  The paper formatting, including published materials, must follow Graduate Studies formatting guidelines.  
  • Do I need to Add a Copyright Notice Page in my Thesis or Dissertation?
  • Including a copyright notice in your thesis or dissertation is recommended, even if you are not planning to register your copyright.  If you pay the fee for copyright registration service from ProQuest, they will insert a copyright page as the second page of your thesis or dissertation when it is released, and you should not include a separate copyright page or a blank second page. 

    If including a notice, it should be on an unnumbered page following your title page and should include at least ‘copyright’ and/or the copyright symbol, the year, and your name - typically located at the center or ⅔ down the page.

    For Example: Copyright © 2021 by Your Name
  • What is Copyright Registration?
  • Copyright registration is a legal formality that establishes a public record of your claim to the work.  It is not required in order for your work to be protected by copyright, but it is required in order to sue for copyright infringement in a federal court. 

    If the work is registered within three months of its publication date or before a particular copyright infringement occurs, the copyright holder can recover statutory damages (monetary awards not necessarily connected to actual harm suffered by the copyright holder) and attorney fees if they are successful in the infringement suit.

    Copyright registration only applies to work you have created and in which you own the copyright, e.g. your copyright registration would not apply to previously published work (unless you’ve maintained the copyright) or work you did not create, but have been permitted to use.
  • Should I Register Copyright?
  • It can be difficult to know whether registering your copyright is necessary before it becomes necessary.  Most thesis/dissertation authors are unlikely to need the legal benefits of copyright registration.  Essentially, if at some point you might want to take legal action in order to protect your work, you should register copyright.  Discuss the option with your major professor prior to filing.

    •  Copyright registration is highly recommended for theses and dissertation which include:
    •  Content that is part of a pending patent or likely to be patented in the future.
    •  Material that is 'newsworthy' and has not been released publicly. 
  • How do I Register Copyright?
  • You may register your copyright at the time you file or at any time in the future. Typically students register the copyright for their thesis or dissertation in one of the following ways:
    •  (Recommended for lower cost) You may register copyright directly with the US Copyright Office through their webform on The copyright registration fee is included in the Copyright Office Circular under Basic Registrations - Single Application.  You can register copyright this way at any time, but it is recommended to register before or within three months of release.  
    • When you upload your thesis or dissertation to ProQuest ETD, you may request that ProQuest register copyright on your behalf.  You will be charged a service fee, currently $75 (subject to change).  This service includes preparation of an application in your name, submission of your copyright registration application fee, deposit of the required copy or copies of the manuscript, inclusion of a copyright page in your paper, and mailing you the completed certificate of registration from the Library of Congress.

Publishing Option & Copyright Advising Resources

Ask your faculty - Your first step in considering your publishing and copyright options should be to consult with your major professor, committee members, program chair, and other faculty mentors and colleagues who have published work in your field.  

Michael Ladisch ( is the Scholarly Communications Officer at the UC Davis Shields Library and available to discuss publishing options and copyright questions with graduate students.  You can email him for an appointment or attend a Copyright Workshop hosted by Graduate Pathways Institute.  

View Michael’s recorded Copyright Workshop from 1/21/21.

Senior Academic Advisors in Graduate Studies are available to support you during the filing process, and may be able to answer questions about publishing options and copyright, or help you to locate an appropriate resource.  Email your SAA.