Policies for GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Copyright

Students retain ownership of the copyright for the content of their thesis or dissertation, including the right to use all or part of the content in future works. Students are free to register the copyright to their work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Students are solely responsible for obtaining the rights to use any third-party copyrighted materials, allowing electronic distribution, prior to submission.

Public Access and Embargoes

The full-text of theses and dissertations from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences are made publicly available in the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s repository, eScholarship@UMMS, unless the student has elected to postpone public access for a specified time (this is known as an embargo). Students may choose from the following embargo options: no embargo; 6 months; 1 year; 2 years.

There is a record of each embargoed thesis/dissertation in eScholarship@UMMS that displays the author name, title, abstract, publication year, GSBS program, advisor, and department affiliations. The record also shows when the embargo will expire. Only the student (as the author) and administrators of eScholarship@UMMS can access the full text of the thesis/dissertation before the embargo expiration date.

Possible reasons to consider an embargo:

  • The student is applying for a patent on an invention or procedure documented in the thesis/dissertation and does not wish to make the contents public until the patent application has been filed
  • The thesis/dissertation contains sensitive and/or classified information
  • Immediate release of the thesis/dissertation may impact an existing or potential publishing agreement

If students do not request an embargo, or following the expiration of an embargo, the thesis/dissertation will be made publicly available in eScholarship@UMMS and marked with “All Rights Reserved” or a Creative Commons license as specified by the student.

Creative Commons (CC) licenses are popular tools to facilitate knowledge sharing and creative innovation that copyright holders can apply to their works to indicate how they would like their materials to be used. Those who want to make their work available to the public for limited kinds of uses while preserving their copyright may want to consider using CC licenses. Students have three options to choose from and should select the option that best meets their goals:

  • Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY): This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
  • Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC): This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
  • Copyright is held by the author, with all rights reserved: This phrase indicates that the student, as the copyright holder, reserves, or holds for their own use, all the rights provided by copyright law, and that nothing may be done with a copyrighted work without their explicit permission.

Students and their thesis advisors should discuss and reach a mutual agreement regarding which embargo option and which Creative Commons license are appropriate. Conflicts between the wishes of the student and the advisor should be resolved before the student completes the GSBS eScholarship@UMMS Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Permission Form.

Sharing Research Data Publicly in Theses and Dissertations

Students have many options for publicly sharing research data, including government- sponsored repositories such as GenBank or GEO, disciplinary repositories, third-party repositories, and established campus resources such as LabArchives and UMass Medical School’s institutional repository, eScholarship@UMMS.

In thesis and dissertation manuscripts, students can include links to research data that has been permanently shared publicly, whether through deposit to a repository or published with a DOI through LabArchives. DOIs are permanent unique identifiers assigned to publications, data, and other scholarly products that make it easier for data to be discovered, cited, and credited. It is recommended that students use a DOI, if available, to link to research data from within their theses and dissertations. Both LabArchives and eScholarship@UMMS have the ability to assign DOIs to datasets stored and shared with the software.

Students also have the option to upload research data as supplemental files when they are submitting their thesis or dissertation to eScholarship@UMMS. Data files are displayed on the web page with the thesis or dissertation and download statistics are available.

In all cases, students should make sure that permanent, public data sharing is appropriate. Data should be documented so that it is easier to understand. Good data management practices should be followed, including using standard data and file formats, good null values, and basic quality control (see Nine Simple Ways to Make It Easier to Re (Use) Your Data).

Publication

Theses and dissertations are published exactly as they are submitted. They are not edited, typeset, or retyped by the Graduate School or the Library. Therefore, the document’s appearance when it is accessed or printed is entirely the responsibility of the student. The student must assume responsibility for: preparing the document according to the Graduate School guidelines for preparation of dissertations and theses; converting the document into Adobe PDF format; checking the document for appearance; and submitting the final, approved PDF document to eScholarship@UMMS.

The complete list of requirements that students must fulfill before submitting their thesis/dissertation online is available at GSBS Dissertation and Theses Submission Guidelines.

Post-Publication Edits

Once the Graduate School has posted the thesis/dissertation on eScholarship@UMMS, corrections or retractions cannot be made unless the student submits an official request to the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Academic Affairs. Since this is the version of record, the full-text cannot simply be swapped out. Changes can be made to the metadata (descriptive information about the thesis/dissertation) but not to the full text. Upon Graduate School approval, students will be allowed to upload another version which will display as an additional file, or to submit revised supplemental data as an additional file. The record will be amended to describe the actions/correction.

As the thesis/dissertation is the student’s intellectual property, only the student can initiate a cancellation or an extension of an approved embargo, or a change to a Creative Commons license.

Removal of Content

The full text of a work will generally be removed from eScholarship@UMMS only for reasons such as unethical/ unsound science, plagiarism, copyright infringement, IRB non- compliance and/or violation of the Licensing Agreement. Removal requests should be sent to the GSBS Associate Dean for Curriculum and Academic Affairs and should include the reason for removal. If the work is removed, a record describing the original version of the paper will always remain on the site at the same URL.