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Scholarly Communications

In 2003, ACRL defined scholarly communication as "the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to to the scholarly community, and preserved."

Theses & Dissertations Submission

All graduate theses and dissertations and undergraduate honors theses will be made available in W&M ScholarWorks, William & Mary’s institutional repository (IR). Your specific program or school (links appear below) has information on how to submit your thesis or dissertation.

Graduate Theses & Dissertations

William & Mary began electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) only submissions in 2016.

Please refer to the individual schools for information about submitting your thesis or dissertation electronically:


Undergraduate Honors Theses

Embargo and Licensing Options at W&M

Students retain their copyright (authorship) of their thesis or dissertation. They may select a Creative Commons license and/or an embargo for their work if they like. For sensitive content, they may also opt to have minor portions of their thesis or dissertation redacted. 


Embargoes are set periods through which the full-text for an electronic publication is not freely available online. For example, a publication embargoed until January 1, 2020 won't be accessible online until that date.There are some embargo alternatives, such as redaction, that can also be implemented. 

W&M honors theses: W&M honors theses may be embargoed up until 2 years after publication. During the embargo, users will be able to see the title, abstract and other citation information for their thesis but they won't be able to access the full-text of it until the embargo has expired.

W&M masters theses and doctoral dissertations

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences: W&M masters theses and doctoral dissertations in the Arts & Sciences may be embargoed up to 12 years per the wishes of the student. For embargoes of 2 or more years, students will need to fill out the petition form with the rationale for embargo and the signature of their committee chair and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. For embargoes lasting more than 6 years, it's required that the student also meet with the Digital Scholarship Librarian to learn more about the embargoes and that the librarian then sign off on the embargo form. For more info, see the relevant A&S embargoes page

School of Education: W&M School of Education dissertations may be embargoed for up to 2 years during the submission process. For more info, see the SOE  FAQ.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS): VIMS master theses and dissertations may be embargoed up to 2 years during the submission process. For more info, see VIMS ETD page.

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons licenses allow authors control over who may use their work and how they may do see. Find details on the ways you can use these licenses and access a quick questionnaire to determine the type of license you want to select here

Is it harder to publish elsewhere if your dissertation or thesis is open access?

Scholarly research indicates that not only are publishers offering more open access content from their own platforms, but they are increasingly receptive to publishing content which originally was posted open access elsewhere. Generally, this is because scholarship goes under extensive editing between initial publication as a thesis or dissertation and acceptance into a peer-review publication. The articles below speak to this effect.

Cirasella, J., & Thistlethwaite, P. (2017). Open access and the graduate author: A dissertation anxiety manual. In K. L. Smith & K. A. Dickson (Eds.), Open access and the future of scholarly communication: Implementation´╗┐ (pp. 203-224). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Ramírez, Marisa L., et al. "Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Sciences?" College & Research Libraries 75.6 (2014): 808-821.
Sherpa/ROMEO statistics indicate that nearly 80% of the the nearly 2500 publishers they track allow for posting of pre-prints and/or post-prints.
Truschke, Audrey. Open Access and Dissertation Embargoes. Dissertation Reviews (April 6, 2015)

Truschke, Audrey. Publishing a Revised Dissertation. Dissertation Reviews (April 13, 2015)

Find a bibliography of articles citing benefits of publishing OA here


Am I required to submit my thesis or dissertation?
Yes.  As is policy of W&M University Archives and pursuant to state agency records retention schedule GS 111101085 which governs the retention of student theses and dissertations; graduate theses and dissertations, and undergraduate honors theses are produced in partial fulfillment of a degree from William & Mary are considered a permanent college record and are therefore, barring an established term-limited embargo upon submission to the W&M Libraries ETD repository, deemed a permanent public record.

As is policy of W&M Universi
ty Archives and pursuant to state agency records retention schedule GS 111
101085 which governs the retention of student theses and dissertations, honors theses produced in
partial fulfillment of a degree from W&M are considered permanent college record an
d are therefore,
barring an established term
limited embargo upon submission to the W&M Libraries ETD Repository,
considered permanent public record.

What are embargoes?

Embargoes are set periods through which the full-text for a publication is not open access (freely available online).

What about copyright?

You own the copyright for your work but should ensure that you obtained permission to reprint if you don't think your use of others' work constitutes fair use. Consult Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis for more information. 

How do I license my work, and what is a Creative Commons license?

Learn more about copyright and licensing your work through a creative commons license in our licensing guide.

How do I get a print copy of my thesis or dissertation?
Graduate students have the option to order a printed, bound copy when you submit your thesis or dissertation to W&M ETD Administrator (ProQuest ETD portal.) You can also use online vendors like Lulu or local companies like Long's Roullet Bookbinders, Inc for printing and binding.

Departments interested in bound copies may also purchase titles directly from ProQuest.

What if I have already published some of my dissertation chapters as articles?
Best practice is to tell the publisher(s) of your articles that your submission to them will appear in your dissertation before you sign the contract with the journal publisher. If you have already published the article, it's not entirely black and white but speaking conservatively, the permission will depend on the publisher. Read more on MIT's guide on this topic.