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Publication Policies

Once the dissertation or thesis has been submitted and accepted, it becomes publicly available on Trace. The Graduate School Catalog states that:

A student must, as a condition of a degree award, grant royalty-free permission to the university to reproduce and publicly distribute, including by electronic and digital technologies now known or developed in the future, on a non-commercial basis, copies of the thesis or dissertation.

The world of scholarship depends on people making their research available to others. When that is done electronically, more people can get access at a lower cost, and more knowledge transfer occurs. This can stimulate education and research. It also can ensure that many people give credit to you for your work, and that your research is cited in others’ publications, which adds to your prestige and can help your future advancement.

Because of the access restrictions in storing single copies of theses and dissertations on the shelf before they were available electronically, few of these documents were read. Electronic access can dramatically increase the number of times your work is read or used. Since you spent a great deal of time on your research, it should encourage you to know that others are reading that work. Your literature review may guide others, and your results may save others the time of redoing your study.

With the advent of electronic theses/dissertations, students and universities can easily share knowledge with much lower costs. We believe that about 200,000 theses or dissertations are completed each year. It would greatly aid graduate education if as many as possible of these were freely available. Electronic theses/dissertations are becoming the standard in university libraries.

Understanding all of that, you may feel that a delay of the public release is warranted, in which case, you’ll want to fill out the Embargo Request section of the Thesis/Dissertation Approval form, as discussed below.

Embargo Policy

Students with significant concerns related to sensitive or classified information, patents, and potential publishers’ restrictions may request a 12-month embargo after the conferral of their degree to delay public release of the thesis or dissertation. The request must be approved by the student’s major advisor and submitted to the thesis/dissertation coordinator in the Graduate School no later than the thesis/dissertation submission deadline. An embargo is requested by completing the Embargo Request portion on the 2nd page of the Approval Form. This section must be completed in full — if any of the following items are left blank, the embargo will not be approved:

  1. Select the checkbox next to “I would like my ETD to be held from release for one year from the date my degree is conferred.”;
  2. Put a brief justification (1-2 sentences is acceptable);
  3. The student must sign and date in the “Student Signature” portion;
  4. The student must obtain his/her major professor’s signature in the “Advisor Signature” portion.

Upon special request, this embargo may be extended for one additional 12-month period. The maximum embargo period is 24 months following the conferral of the graduate degree. Those students wishing to embargo their theses/dissertations for longer than 12 months must submit an emailed request at least two weeks before the end of the original embargo period to Dixie Thompson, dean of the Graduate School, at gradschooldean@utk.edu. Make sure to include the reason(s) for requesting this extension, as these requests are approved on a case-by-case basis.

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