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Copyright for Authors and Creators: Dissertation Authors

A guide to understanding and managing your work as intellectual property.

ProQuest Author Resources

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ProQuest's Author Relations provides a guide to submitting your dissertation, covering manuscript preparation, copyright, embargoes, and more:

Submitting Your Dissertation or Thesis to ProQuest

Library Resources


These resources can help you navigate copyright in the dissertation process.

Click on a book cover to learn more.

Cover of the monogrpah "Getting it Published" - link to book infoCover of the monogrpah "From Dissertation to Book" - link to book info Cover of the monogrpah "Permssion: a Survival Guide" - link to book info Cover of the monogrpah "Getting Permssion" - link to book info

Publishing Your Dissertation with ProQuest/UMI

NYU dissertations are submitted for digital curation by ProQuest/UMI.

ProQuest will make your dissertation available in its Dissertation & Theses database, through which academic researchers can access your dissertation via an institutional subscription.  

Depending on the options you choose when completing ProQuest's Submission Agreement, your dissertation can also be made available for free on the open internet.

The ProQuest Submission Agreement covers a number of issues and choices that academic authors commonly face when submitting their work, including:  

  1. copyright & your rights as an author
  2. what to do when using other people's copyrighted work
  3. considering embargo options
  4. choosing traditional or Open Access options

Below are some key points to be aware of when reviewing and signing your submission agreement with ProQuest.

1. Copyright & Your Rights as an Author

As the author, you own the copyright to your work. This is true of your dissertation, a journal article, a website, or any other original creative work that you create independently.

For more information on author rights, you may refer to the following resources:

Under ProQuest's Publication Agreement:

  1. you remain the copyright owner -AND-
  2. you grant ProQuest a nonexclusive license to post & distribute your dissertation

As the copyright owner, you can choose to distribute your dissertation through channels other than ProQuest. Because the license you grant is nonexclusive, you remain free to grant similar publication or distribution rights to other individuals, publishers, etc.                                            

2. When Using Others' Copyrighted Work

ProQuest requires authors to obtain copyright permission in order to include third party images or other materials subject to copyright in a dissertation. 

NYU does not itself require proof of permission to include copyrighted works in your dissertation. Authors should be aware, however, that ProQuest may remove third party works from a dissertation -- or may elect not to distribute a dissertation -- if it believes that necessary copyright permissions have not been secured.

Here is a sample permission letter for requesting permission to use a work in your NYU dissertation: Sample Dissertation Copyright Permission Request.

For more information on copyright permissions generally, visit the Getting Permission page.

3. Embargo Options

ProQuest allows you the option of embargoing full-text access to your dissertation for :

  • Ink illustration of a turtle with the word "EMBARGO" on its back, lying in front of a sailboat.6 months
  • 1 year -OR-
  • 2 years

If you choose to embargo your work, only the dissertation abstract will be made available in ProQuest's dissertation database. At the end of the embargo period, full-text access will be provided. Because the ProQuest Agreement offers a maximum embargo of two years, authors wishing to extend their embargo may contact ProQuest Dissertation Publishing directly via or through ProQuest Support Center.

Image credit: Jefferson-era political cartoon, in Public Domain.

4. Traditional & Open Access Publishing Options

The ProQuest Agreement gives you a number of options for how your dissertation will be made available:

  • Open Access Option: dissertation is freely accessible to the public on the internet.
    • ProQuest charges an additional fee for OA, and you will not be eligible to receive royalties.
    • For more information on OA generally, visit the Open Access page.
  • Traditional Publishing Option: dissertation is available in ProQuest's Dissertation Abstracts, a subscription database.
    • You will be eligible for royalties on any sales of your work.

Whether you choose Open Access or traditional publishing, you have an additional choice:

  • Search Engine Discoverability: ProQuest will make your dissertation discoverable via major search engines, unless you instead choose to limit search engine access.