An embargo is a restriction on public access to a thesis or dissertation for a limited period of time. Usually, ETDs are made publicly available in D-Scholarship@Pitt, the institutional repository at the University of Pittsburgh, with no embargo. The public availability of a thesis or dissertation helps the student with increased exposure, citations, and sharing of their scholarship. An embargo limits access to only people with University of Pittsburgh login credentials. (Please note that after graduation, this embargo will also exclude the student whose Unviersity Computing Account has expired.)
Students may choose to delay the public release of their document for a period of two years in order to:
- Protect intellectual property during the patent application process.
- Maintain confidentiality agreements protecting third-party proprietary information.
- Protect informants at risk of identity exposure.
Note that most reputable publishers do not consider a publicly available dissertation as a "prior publication" and therefore a publicly available dissertation will not negatively impact a student's ability to publish future work based on dissertation content, although there are some exceptions for dissertations that will be published as books. A student who is considering an embargo should discuss the option with their faculty advisor and the rest of their committee.
As of the Fall semester of 2019, the University of Pittsburgh will now allow a maximum of a two year embargo on the initial approval of an ETD, with an optional two-year extension. If an extension is requested before the expiration of that embargo period, it will be automatically enacted for one to two years from the end of the initial embargo length. It is the student's responsibility to know when the embargo expires and make a request at the appropriate time.
If the embargo request comes after the embargo has expired, or you have already enacted the initial automatic embargo renewal, you will need to provide a detailed explanation of the reason for the extension. It will be forwarded to your school and the Office of the Provost for approval. The decision will be shared with you via ETD Support.
To make a request for an embargo extension, please use the Ask an ETD Specialist form.
A special note for dissertations: Dissertations are also deposited with ProQuest, which maintains a thesis and dissertation database that is independent from the Unviersity of Pittsburgh. Therefore, an embargo request or an extension with the University of Pittsburgh and D-Scholarship will not automatically apply to the dissertation in ProQuest. A student may independently choose among several levels of embargo for the copy of the dissertation that is deposited electronically with ProQuest. ProQuest also has a two-year maximum embargo length, and to request an extension of the embargo the student must contact Proquest at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include the full citation of the dissertation, your requested length of embargo extension, and your current contact information.