Decisions to make

Digital dissertations available online are more frequently used than print dissertations available only by borrowing them from a library. You can publish your dissertation online with Carnegie Mellon University Libraries or with ProQuest/UMI. The two venues provide many of the same services and are not mutually exclusive. You may choose both options.

The University Libraries will publish your dissertation online at no charge. Your work will be cataloged and deposited in Carnegie Mellon’s open access repository, Research Showcase. You can specify when you want your work to be freely available (open access) to the public. Whenever possible, Carnegie Mellon strongly encourages graduate students to deposit a digital copy of their dissertation in Research Showcase for long-term preservation and open access. See  CMU’s Guidelines on Author Rights and Preservation.

ProQuest/UMI will publish your dissertation online for a fee. Your work will be included in the print index Dissertation Abstracts International and the digital full-text Dissertations & Theses Database per your specifications. UMI can restrict online access to your dissertation to those affiliated with a licensing library (traditional publishing) or make your work freely available on the Internet (open access publishing). With either option, you can specify when you want access to your work to be available. (See page 4 of the ProQuest Publishing Agreement.)

For more information, see the following posts on PhD2Published, a blog of academic publishing advice for first timers:

Part 1: Should you make your thesis more widely available online?
Part 2: Should you make your thesis more widely available online? Fear of idea theft
Part 3: Should you make your thesis available online? Thinking about publishing
Part 4: Should you make your thesis available online? Introducing EthOS by Sara Gould

If you publish your dissertation with ProQuest/UMI, UMI returns a hardbound printed copy of your dissertation to the University Libraries to add to the collection. You can purchase bound copies for personal use and distribution through UMI. Hardbound copies with embossed titles and high quality binding and paper stock are called “milestone editions”; see Milestone Editions for Authors for details. Researchers can also purchase hardbound, softbound, or unbound printed copies from UMI; see Dissertation Print Copies for Researchers for more information.

If you publish with the University Libraries and want bound copies for personal use, you can upload a digital copy of your manuscript and order spiral- or comb-bound copies through Carnegie Mellon’s FedEx Office.

Bound copies submitted to the University Libraries are cataloged in CAMEO (CMU’s library catalog) and shelved in the library. They can be checked out by Carnegie Mellon users. If the University Libraries has more than one bound copy or a copy on microform, these can be borrowed on interlibrary loan. We also try to provide access to older dissertations (published before 1968) not available through ProQuest/UMI or elsewhere. Recent dissertations are more readily available and often consulted online than printed copies.

Do you want people to discover your dissertation when they search the open web using an Internet search engine such as Google, or do you prefer that discovery of your work be more restricted, for example, via a search of a library catalog, Dissertation Abstracts International, or the Dissertations & Theses Database? If you want to encourage easy discovery by the broadest possible range of readers, then enable your work to be discovered in a search of the open web.

If you publish your dissertation with the University Libraries, i.e., deposit it in Research Showcase, your work will be discoverable in a search of the open web. ProQuest/UMI will make your work discoverable via a search of the open web if you request this option. (See page 4 of the ProQuest Publishing Agreement.) However, dissertations in Research Showcase are more easily discovered in an Internet search than those in the ProQuest database.

Both the University Libraries and ProQuest/UMI enable you to make your work freely available – open access – on the Internet. Readers do not have to pay to access or download work available open access. The University Libraries does not charge a fee for open access publishing. UMI charges authors $120 for open access publishing.

Carnegie Mellon strongly encourages CMU students to make their dissertation available open access because open access broadens dissemination, increases use, citation, and impact, and maximizes the return on investment in research. However, there are considerations that could warrant restricting or delaying access to your work. For example, if the work contains patentable material you should delay access until you have applied for a patent and received a response to your application. If you plan to publish the work, contact the publishers in your field to find out if they are amenable to publishing work that is freely available online; if not, then delay open access to your work by imposing an embargo or restrict access to authenticated Carnegie Mellon users.

If you prefer to restrict access and receive royalty payments from sales of your dissertation, ProQuest/UMI provides this traditional publishing service for a fee of $25. The University Libraries does not provide this service. You must decide if restricting access to your work to those willing and able to pay is in your best interests and the interests of your discipline.

If you publish with ProQuest/UMI, the University Libraries contributes $25 towards author fees.

If you publish with ProQuest/UMI, regardless of whether you choose traditional publishing (restricted access) or open access publishing, UMI may sell copies of your dissertation in electronic or tangible format (e.g., print, microform, or CD). Authors receive royalties from the sale of restricted access dissertations, but do not receive royalties from the sale of open access dissertations. Authors cannot prevent UMI from selling their work or licensing access to it. They can, however, specify whether they want UMI to enable third parties such as Amazon to sell their dissertations. (See page 4 of the ProQuest Publishing Agreement.)

The University Libraries will not sell or profit from providing access to your dissertation.

Ph.D. students are increasingly including supplementary materials with their dissertations, for example, the data underlying the research. Both the University Libraries and ProQuest/UMI enable you to submit supplementary digital materials with your dissertation manuscript.

If you publish with the University Libraries, your supplementary materials will be deposited and available online along with your dissertation in Research Showcase. If you publish with UMI, your supplementary materials will not be available online. Only readers who purchase a printed copy of your dissertation will have access to your supplementary materials, which will be provided on a CD or DVD included with the print copy. See UMI’s Supplementary Materials Guide for more information.

If you own the copyright to your dissertation, Carnegie Mellon strongly encourages you to consider publishing it under an open license such as a Creative Commons license. Open licenses encourage use by removing one or more copyright restrictions while retaining other copyright protections, for example, allowing copying and distribution, but prohibiting commercial use or the making of derivative works. In the absence of an open license, readers will need to locate you and ask your permission to use your work if their proposed use exceeds that allowed by the fair use doctrine in U.S. copyright law.

The University Libraries enables you to publish your dissertation under an open license. ProQuest/UMI does not.

For more information about open licenses, see Creative Commons licenses, the Guide to Open Licensing, and the list of Conformant Licenses.

Research Showcase provides monthly reports of the number of downloads of your dissertation and any other work you deposited in the repository. The monthly reports are sent to you as an email message with a link to a more detailed online report. If you have the monthly reports sent to your andrew.cmu.edu email account, you will need to change the email address when you leave the university if you want to continue receiving the monthly reports. Google and many other online services provide free email accounts. Contact Katie Behrman to change your email address affiliated with Research Showcase.

ProQuest/UMI does not provide usage reports other than royalty payments for sales of traditionally published dissertations.

For more information about open licenses, see Creative Commons licenses, the Guide to Open Licensing, and the list of Conformant Licenses.

Until relatively recently, graduate students had no alternative to ProQuest/UMI if they wanted to disseminate their dissertation online. The development of online repositories, such as Carnegie Mellon’s Research Showcase, challenges UMI’s dominance as the publisher for dissertations.

You can give Carnegie Mellon University Libraries permission to publish, preserve, and provide open access to your dissertation at no charge to you or your readers; with this option you can also give your readers re-use rights (for example, under a Creative Commons license). Alternatively, you can pay ProQuest/UMI to publish, preserve, and provide access to your dissertation under a variety of terms and conditions, none of which gives your readers re-use rights. Or you can publish in both venues. You must decide what is in your best interests and the interests of your discipline.

ProQuest/UMI’s Dissertations & Theses Database is a well-established, frequently used resource providing access to a large collection of material, but many graduate students and university administrators are questioning the practice of enabling a commercial publisher to profit from author fees, database licensing fees, and dissertation sales when universities can publish and disseminate these important works at no charge to authors or readers. For a brief discussion of the tradeoffs written by a graduate student, see ProQuest, Dissertations, and Creative Commons Licensing: An Open Letter.

For a table of features/functionality, pros and cons of publishing dissertations in Research Showcase versus publishing with ProQuest/UMI, see Options for publishing CMU dissertations.

For more information about open licenses, see Creative Commons licenses, the Guide to Open Licensing, and the list of Conformant Licenses.