Choosing to Embargo? What to Do with Your History Dissertation
Peter Berkery Jr., Association of American University Presses
Michael D. Hattem, Yale University
Jacqueline Jones, University of Texas at Austin
Recently revised submission practices at many universities require Ph.D. candidates to make their dissertations available for free and immediate download on the web. While this has potential benefits, there is also some evidence that publishers are reluctant to sign books based on dissertations that have been circulated digitally at no cost, because of their experience that acquisitions librarians are less likely to purchase the subsequently published book for their collections. The AHA statement on this issue last year recommended that universities offer Ph.D. recipients a choice as to when and how to allow such access to the fruits of their academic labor under conditions that might affect their career options. In order to make informed decisions about this process, and request that their university permit graduating Ph.D.’s to delay no-cost digital publication for a reasonable and appropriate period of time if they so choose, both the candidates and their faculty need to understand the many factors that should inform such decisions. This panel takes up this question from several different perspectives—that of a dean, a publisher, a graduate student, a librarian, and a professor— in order to help junior scholars make an informed choice about digital publication of their dissertation.