When You Graduate: Should You Apply an Embargo?
Factors for Undergraduate Students to Consider
Congratulations! You've successfully defended your thesis/project. Most departments encourage – and some require – you to submit it to the U of A's open access digital repository ScholarWorks@UARK. For information about the submission process, see these guidelines. Be aware that this repository will make your work directly available to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection unless you apply an embargo.
Whereas an embargo limits discoverability and accessibility, it also safeguards research and creative work which you are not yet ready to release to the public. Should you apply an embargo? If so, how long should it last? One year? Three years? Indefinitely? Consider the following factors.
Patents: Do you, your advisor, or any other member of your research team intend to apply for a patent based on your research?
If you answer "yes," ask your advisor if releasing your thesis/project in ScholarWorks@UARK would count as public disclosure, which would impede the patent application.
Research Funding: Has your research been funded, either directly or indirectly, by a government agency, a funding organization, or a corporation?
If you answer "yes," consult your advisor and check the terms of the grant for restrictions or obligations regarding research outputs (e.g., public access requirements, nondisclosure agreements, proprietary data).
Future Publications: When you sign the ScholarWorks@UARK agreement, you retain copyright as well as the right to use your thesis/project for professional purposes and in future publications. That is, you grant ProQuest nonexclusive permission to publicly host your work.
Journal articles: Will journals in your discipline publish an article based on a publicly available thesis/project? If so, an embargo may not be necessary. However, in a footnote or in the acknowledgments section of an article, you will need to mention that it originated from your thesis/project.
If journals will not accept an article based on a publicly available thesis/project, you should consider an embargo. Consult your advisor.
Your Discipline: If you're in the arts, you may not want to make your drawings, stories, architectural designs, musical compositions, documentary videos, or dramatic scripts openly available until you've had an opportunity to capitalize on them yourself. Also, the humanities, social sciences, and sciences have differing expectations regarding a thesis/project as a source of publications. Consult your advisor about the options for publishing your work and the desirability of an embargo.