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ETDs - Electronic Theses & Dissertations: Access and Embargos

An ETD submission guide for ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University


After you have submitted your electronic thesis or dissertation and your college approves it, it will be available as follows:

  • The full text will be openly available in ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University, the University Library’s digital repository, at a unique, permanent URL you can use to share your ETD.
  • A record will be added to the library catalog, with a link to the ETD in ScholarWorks.
  • Your thesis or dissertation will be indexed and available through search engines such as Google. The keywords and abstract you enter when submitting your ETD influence how easy it is to find with a keyword search in a search engine.
  • The metadata page, including author, title, and abtract will be indexed by search engines even if the ETD itself is embargoed.

Open access to your thesis or dissertation as described above does not affect your copyright or ownership of the content of your thesis or dissertation.

Restricting Access to an ETD (Embargos and Closed Access)

When you submit your thesis or dissertation, you will be offered several options for restricting access.  Access options should be discussed with your adviser. Some colleges have embargo policies or standard practices, so do not embargo or close your ETD without checking.

If you embargo or close your thesis or dissertation, it will still be listed and indexed in the Georgia State University Library Catalog and in ScholarWorks@GSU, and the title, author, keywords, and abstract will be displayed on the web in the record for your thesis or dissertation.


When submitting your ETD, you will select either:

  • No embargo required. By choosing no embargo you are agreeing to publish your thesis or dissertation in ScholarWorks@GSU immediately. This option will provide the broadest possible access to your work. The full-text of your thesis or dissertation and any supplemental files will be accessible on the internet, and your thesis or dissertation will be indexed and discoverable via major search engines. 
  • Embargo. By choosing an embargo, you are requesting that there be no access to the full-text of your Dissertation for a specified period of time. Your dissertation will be listed and indexed in the Georgia State University Library Catalog and in ScholarWorks@GSU, but the full text of your Dissertation, and any supplementary files, will not be accessible until the expiration of the embargo. The title, author, keywords, and abstract will be displayed on the web in the record for your Dissertation even if you have restricted access to the full-text copy. If you are embargoing due to patentability concerns, make sure your abstract is written so as to not be considered prior art. If do not want an abstract displayed at all, enter “No abstract to protect patentability” in the abstract field when you upload your thesis or dissertation.

Closed Thesis or Dissertation

When you are uploading your thesis or dissertation, you have the option of Closed Thesis or Closed Dissertation. If you submit your ETD as Closed, access to it will be restricted to the Georgia State University campus as long as it remains Closed. You must take affirmative action to open your ETD to wider access. This level of access is the equivalent of the access that was available when theses and dissertations were only on a library shelf. Your thesis or dissertation will be shared as the result of an Interlibrary Loan request.

When to consider an embargo

  • You plan to apply for a patent based on research that is discussed in your dissertation. After one year, the patent applicant’s own publication may be considered “prior art” that could prevent the issuance of a patent. Since electronic distribution of your dissertation through ScholarWorks is publication for this purpose, an embargo will delay the beginning of this one-year time clock against a potential patent application. By selecting a two-year embargo, therefore, you will have a total of three years (two-year embargo plus one-year window after publication) to submit a patent application.
  • If you are planning to publish all or part of your thesis/dissertation and know that publishers in your field consider open access electronic thesis/dissertations to be a prior publication, you may want to consider an embargo.  Publisher treatment of dissertations as prior publication varies between disciplines so you should check on publisher policies before submitting your thesis or dissertation.
  • If your thesis or dissertation contains data or material that was generated pursuant to a grant or contract and the thesis or dissertation is subject to review by the sponsor or grantor prior to publication, you should select at least a six-month embargo.
  • Your work is based on data generated through research that will support other publications from people on the research team (such as your adviser). The embargo options in this situation should be discussed with your committee and research team.

Extending or Removing an Embargo

If you choose to embargo your thesis or dissertation when you submit it, and if at any time during the embargo period you subsequently decide that you wish to extend or remove the embargo on electronic access to your thesis or dissertation on ScholarWorks, email your college ETD administrator, who will tell you college procedures for embargo extensions and removals.