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Copyright & Your Scholarship

Publishing Your Thesis, Dissertation, or Creative Project

As you fill out your paperwork to submit your Ball State thesis, dissertation, or creative project, you will need to make some decisions about who will have access to your work and when they will receive access. To pick the best option for you, consider your long-term goals for your scholarship, talk to your advisor, or contact the Copyright and Scholarly Communications Office. Your options include:

  • Release the entire work for access worldwide. This means anyone, anywhere will be able to find, read, and cite your work through an online portal managed by the University Libraries. This is a great option if you want to do any of the following:
    • Contribute to your field by adding to the collection of openly available research online.
    • Reach community or public audiences who might be interested in your work even if they aren't Ball State affiliates.
    • Share your project with potential employers.
    • Have a safe place where you can easily access your thesis in 5, 10, even 20 years.
  • Release the abstract for access worldwide and the main body and any accompanying materials for Ball State University access only (Ball State access includes faculty, staff, students).​ This means that anyone, anywhere can find your work through the University Libraries and read a brief summary. Ball State faculty, staff, and students may access the entire work by logging in with their Ball State credentials. This might be the right choice if you have:
    • ​Published or plan to publish part of your work with a journal or press that explicitly prohibits open access to theses and dissertations. This is very rare; most journal publishers will allow you to reprint articles, and research shows few academic presses would reject a monograph proposal just because your dissertation is already available online. MIT Libraries has created a useful list of major publishers' policies as one starting point, and religious studies scholar Audrey Truschke has written an in-depth series of blog posts on this issue when it comes to book publishing.
    • Incorporated copyrighted materials (images, videos, etc.) into your thesis or dissertation without permission from the copyright holder. But note that you can still make your work public if your use of copyrighted materials is covered by fair use!
  • Release the abstract for access worldwide and the main body and any accompanying materials for Ball State University access only for one year, two years, or three years (embargo period). After this embargo period, release the work for access worldwide. This means Ball State faculty, staff, and students must login to access your work for a specified amount of time, known as an embargo. But after that, anyone, anywhere will be able to find and read your work. This might be the right choice if you are:
    • Worried someone else will publish based on your findings before you do. (But then again, making your work openly available can also help ensure you get credit for your ideas.)
    • Are planning to publish part of your work in the near future with a journal or press that requires you to wait until the final article or book is published before you can make your thesis or dissertation publicly available. This is very uncommon.