ETDs in Lock-Down: Trends, Analyses and Faculty Perspectives on ETD Embargoes

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Owen, Terry M.
Hackman, Timothy
Harrod, Thomas
Since September 2006, graduate students at the University of Maryland have had the option of restricting access to their ETD in the university’s digital repository (DRUM) for either a one- or six-year period. Embargo requests must be approved by the student’s faculty advisor and submitted to the Graduate School prior to uploading the ETD. Since the beginning of the program, an average of 32% of the ETDs that have been submitted each semester have been embargoed. While Engineering has the largest number of embargoes (150), Chemical and Life Sciences has the greatest percentage (54%), followed closely by Agriculture and Natural Resources (51%) and Business (47%). The College of Arts and Humanities, specifically the English Department, has the largest number of six-year embargoes (75). Faculty advisors who had approved at least one embargo request since 2006 were surveyed to gain insight into their perspectives on publicly available ETDs and ascertain their reasons for approving embargo requests. In general, faculty advisors indicated that they approve ETDs without attempting to change the students’ choice of embargo period, indicating that the student plays a major role in deciding whether or not to embargo their ETD. In addition, faculty stated that the primary reason for approving embargoes was to protect opportunities for future publication. While the percentage of embargoes has remained relatively constant each semester, our goal is to decrease the number of embargoes by educating faculty and students on the benefits of making their research widely available. We are working with the Graduate School and library faculty to develop a scholarly communications program that not only educates faculty and graduate students about the consequences of embargoes, but also makes them more aware of open access issues in general.
Owen, Terry, Timothy Hackman and Thomas Harrod. 2009. “ETDs in Lock-Down: Trends, Analyses and Faculty Perspectives on ETD Embargoes.” ETD 2009: 12th International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations, Pittsburgh, PA, June 10-13, 2009. Also available at