NB: This post has been edited to include additional material.
The American Historical Association recently announced a “Statement on Policies Regarding the Embargoing of Completed History PhD Dissertations.” The policy “strongly encourages [but does not require] graduate programs and university libraries to adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed history PhD dissertations in digital form for as many as six years.” In a follow-up post, the AHA clarified that embargoes “primarily benefit junior scholars” by affording them the “opportunity to revise their work before it is published.”
The AHA’s statement quickly generated a robust discussion, with Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education offering detailed accounts of reactions as well as analysis of the statement itself. A number of individuals offered their own take, refuting the claim that openly accessible dissertations don’t lead to contracts with a university press, discussing publishers’ reactions and behavior when it comes to openly accessible dissertations, proposing alternatives to the AHA statement, decrying the tone of much of the discussion as unnecessarily polarizing, questioning the AHA’s assertion that publishers are wholly uninterested in manuscripts derived from openly accessible dissertations, and challenging assumptions about why the book remains important for particular disciplines. Though not written in response to the AHA’s statement, this recent Scholarly Kitchen post on dissertations and publishing also makes for an interesting read in light of the current kerfuffle. You can also follow the discussion on Twitter, using the somewhat tongue-in-cheek #AHAgate.
Are you a graduate student who wants to hear about reasons and options for either sharing or placing an embargo on your work? Adeline Koh at ProfHacker provides an excellent overview of why and how she chose to make her own dissertation available.
Here at the University of Michigan, students already have the option to embargo their dissertation for up to three years. According to Jim Ottaviani–the librarian for Deep Blue, our institutional repository–only a very small percentage of students have requested such embargoes. We also teach an open workshop every year on copyright and dissertations, in which UM graduate students can learn more about issues of intellectual property and sharing as they pertain to a dissertation. You can find and register for the workshop (and many others) via the Teaching and Technology Collaborative.
Read anything particularly thought provoking, compelling, or downright interesting on the AHA statement? Let us know in the comments.
Works mentioned in this post:
- Scott Jaschik, “Embargoes for Dissertations?,” Inside Higher Ed
- Stacey Patton, “Scholarly Group Seeks Up to 6-Year Embargoes on Digital Dissertations,” The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Jennifer Guiliano, “I’ll see your open access and raise you two book contracts: or why the AHA should re-think its policy,” personal blog
- Barbara Fister, “The AHA Asks ‘What About the Children?’,” Inside Higher Ed
- Trevor Owens, “Notes toward a Bizarro World AHA Dissertation Open Access Statement,” personal blog
- Adam Crymble, “Students should be empowered, not bullied into open access,” personal blog
- Kevin Smith, “ETDs, publishing & policy based on fear,” Duke Scholarly Communications blog
- Ken Wissoker, “The Relationship Between Research and Publication, Or Why Libraries Should Buy More First Books Than Any Others,” Scholarly Kitchen
- Stephen Ramsay, “The American Shrugshouldercal Association,” personal blog
- Adeline Koh, “Publishing Your Dissertation Online: What’s a New Ph.D. to Do?,” ProfHacker