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Publisher Issues

The ETD initiative provides you a unique opportunity to learn more about publishing. The skills acquired in doing an ETD will serve you well as you continue to produce works of scholarship, more so if you choose to remain in higher education. We encourage you to start learning about publishing issues in the process of preparing and submitting your ETD.

If you intend to publish all or part of your thesis or dissertation as a book or article after graduation, few publishers are concerned if your ETD is only available to the GW community or the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC).  However, if your ETD is available worldwide, some publishers may be concerned about your work being widely available and limiting their ability to make money publishing the work.

Journal Articles

Some professional journals insist on first publication. They might interpret availability through the Internet as prior publication of the work and may not want to accept your article. However, in many cases, submissions to a journal will be considerably different from the material in your thesis or dissertation. Making your ETD available worldwide should therefore not affect your ability to publish an article based on the thesis or dissertation.

It is not easy to generalize about which journals might adopt a particular policy. To be certain, you should identify the journals to which you might wish to submit your article and find out their position on this issue. For summaries of permissions as part of a publisher’s copyright transfer agreement and archiving policies, consult the SHERPA/RoMEO Journals website, which more closely identifies journal titles with specific publishers.

Books Based on Your Thesis or Dissertation

Some academic books have very small potential sales. Anything that means that some potential buyers will not purchase the book but will obtain it in some other way reduces sales. A potential publisher might estimate the likely sales and conclude that the work just cannot be published economically. On the other hand, some observers argue that availability on the Web, because most people will neither read a full book on screen nor print the whole thing out, serves to market the work by sparking readers’ interest in buying it. Indeed, there is some evidence that sales of the book may be enhanced.

A book based on a thesis or dissertation is usually quite different from the original work. It is extremely rare that a dissertation is published as a book without major revisions, and most authors spend several years rewriting and developing the ideas and arguments in their dissertations. The more your book manuscript differs from your dissertation, the less it matters to a publisher whether or not the original dissertation is available electronically.

Attitudes and policies with regard to pre-print publication vary from publisher to publisher. You may want to be cautious and assume that the publisher with whom you would like to publish your book will be concerned if your work is readily available through the Internet. The publisher may have no problem with your making the dissertation available immediately through the Internet, or they may ask you to extend the period in which you restrict or "embargo" access to your dissertation. 

The University allows for 6 month, 1 year, and 2 year embargoes on the public release of dissertations if an embargo is needed. To see summaries of permissions as part of a publishers copyright transfer agreement and archiving policies, consult the SHERPA/RoMEO database.

Use of Previously Published Content in A Dissertation or Thesis

If you are using content you authored that has been previously published in a journal, etc., please consult the document Use of Your Previously Published Works in a Dissertation or Thesis.

Additional Resources

Article - Do ETDs Deter Publishers?

Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC): Defines and addresses various questions related to Open Access, Open Data and Open Educational Resources

SPARC: An Introduction to Copyright Resources for Authors: A Practical Guide when publishing journal articles:

SHERPA/JULIET: information on research funding organization's open access policies.

SHERPA/RoMEO: information on publisher copyright transfer agreements and self-archiving.

SHERPA/FACT: (Funders & Author Compliance Tool): this tool is designed to assist researchers determine which journals comply with the funder's requirements for open access to research.

ProQuest Guides to Publishing Issues: (ProQuest ETD Administrator Site)