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Research Guides

Ownership of ETDs

What is copyright?

Copyright is the law of authorship. Under copyright owners controls the reproduction, distribution, performance and display of their works. They also control the production of derivative works such as translations. A wide range of works can be copyrighted: literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, sculptural works, motion pictures, sound recordings and computer code. Find out more with our Copyright Guide.

Who owns the copyright of a thesis or dissertation?

The copyright of the thesis or dissertation belongs to the student. Works are automatically copyrighted at the point of creation. If parts of a work have already been published and copyright was transferred to the publisher the copyright of those parts would remain with the publisher.

Do I need to register my copyright?

No, but there are certain benefits of registering. More information from the Copyright Office is available. You may register directly with the Copyright Office for $35 or you can have ProQuest register for you for $55.

Style and Formatting

Do the Graduate School or the Libraries have requirements for how to format my ETD?

Yes and no. The Graduate School has very specific requirements for the first three pages, but is agnostic about the rest of the document. The Libraries does not have specific requirements.

Are there any technical requirements?

ProQuest has guidelines about how to prepare your PDF, including information on embedding fonts, and the best formats for long-term preservation. If your PDF or supplemental files are larger than 1GB you will not be able to use ETD Administrator to upload them; instead, follow these instructions for large files.

How do I make my ETD accessible?

UW takes accessibility very seriously, and we strongly encourage you to make sure that your PDFs are accessible to those using screen readers and other assistive technology. UW's Accessible Technology Office has excellent instructions on how to make your documents are accessible.

How do I decide what font/ citation style/ labels/ etc. to use?

Again, neither the Libraries nor the Graduate School have formatting requirements other than the very specific guidelines for the first three pages. To make your decision, you can do the following:

  1. Check with your department to see if it has requirements, and check with your advisor to see if they have preferences. If not,
  2. Figure out if your discipline has best practices or preferences for standards by looking at previously-submitted ETDs. And if all else fails,
  3. Just pick something and be consistent. If you know you’re going to try to publish in a specific place, one idea is to look for that publisher’s style guide and save yourself time down the road.

ETD Distribution and Access

Why do I have two agreements to review and sign, and what do I need to understand about them?

UW ETD's are distributed by both ProQuest and the UW Libraries. Both will make your work available (ProQuest through its Digital Dissertations database and print sales if you choose to allow that, and the UW Libraries through its ResearchWorks service) and preserve it for the future. In return for those services, both ProQuest and UW require you to certify that the work is your own, and that you are not infringing the rights of others. These agreements also provide a mechanism for all parties to recognize your rights as an author. See the ProQuest agreement and the UW Libraries Agreement

What is open access, and how does it apply to my thesis or dissertation?

Articles, books, theses and dissertations are said to be "open access" when they are "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." By making publications open access, the widest sharing of ideas and research results is made possible, which is generally done either by publishing in open access journals or depositing them in "repositories" like PubMed Central or the Libraries' ResearchWorks. UW Graduate School policy is for all newly-published UW theses and dissertations to be open access through ResearchWorks, either immediately or after a limited delay. See our LibGuide on Open Access.

Can I use a Creative Commons (CC) license for my thesis or dissertation?

Yes, at your option you can use a CC license for your work. The license will allow you to define how you can share your work with others beyond what is normally allowed as a fair use. To use a CC license first determine which license you want to use - details are at: Then you need to add the information to the copyright page of your work - see example below. You can obtain the symbol for your particular license at

© Copyright 2020
Jane Student

Can I delay or otherwise limit the release of my thesis or dissertation?

Yes. Most students will want to make their theses or dissertations available as soon and as widely as possible, but some may want to delay or limit their release. This is commonly referred to as an "embargo" and may be appropriate when a student wants to allow time to explore publishing part of it in other forms, such as journal articles or a book; it contains material for which a patent might be sought; or it includes other sensitive or confidential information. Embargoes can be placed either on the ProQuest system, the UW Libraries' ResearchWorks, or both. The default selection in both is for no delay or embargo, with delays of 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years available on the ProQuest system, and 1, 2 and 5 years on ResearchWorks. It is also possible to restrict access to the ProQuest system and/or to UW users during the embargo period. See Graduate School Policy and Access Options for Electronic Theses and Dissertations.

When will my thesis or dissertation be available online?

Theses and dissertations go through a multi-stage workflow that begins at the end of the quarter, regardless of when during the quarter you submitted your ETD. This can take 4-6 weeks, and involves processing by the Graduate School, transfer to and additional processing by ProQuest, and then transfer back to UW ResearchWorks. At that point every thesis and dissertation will get a landing page and metadata in ResearchWorks; however, availability of the thesis or dissertation files is determined by the access restrictions you chose when you submitted your ETD.