Tilting at Windmills: Creating an Embargo Policy




Babcock, Renee E.

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The University of Texas at Austin has required online publication of doctoral dissertations for over a decade, but since the Fall of 2010, UT Austin has required all master's and doctoral students to publish their ETDs open access through the Texas Digital Library. Approximately 1800 ETDs are submitted each academic year, and are managed by a staff of 3 in the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS). There has been some concern from students and faculty as to what effect ready availability of ETDs will have, especially regarding the ability of our graduates to rework their dissertations into future publications, whether as a monograph or journal articles, or to protect their interests in patent applications. At times, that concern has been at cross purposes with the policies of OGS. Over the last 3 years, OGS has created and fine tuned a policy to allow students to embargo their ETDs in a way that tries to balance the needs of the institution to make our scholarly research available to the public with the needs of our graduates and our faculty. As a result, we've seen an increase in the number of files that are actively embargoed each semester. This presentation will cover a brief review of how our policy was formed, how we currently implement embargoes of our ETDs, challenges of managing a large number of ETDs and embargoes with a small staff, some new challenges that we are currently facing, and the future of our embargo policy.