Are all dissertations published automatically with or without embargo?

Date: August 2017


Dear Deans,

Within the coming months, I hope to submit my dissertation to the Graduate School. On the Graduate School website, we are instructed to submit our work through the ProQuest system and (if I’m understanding correctly) also told that our work will be put in the online Cornell Library Repository, eCommons. Does this mean all Cornell dissertations are automatically published electronically, with or without embargo? If so, do we have the option to opt-out of online publishing?

Thank you,

Hoping to Submit Soon Graduate Student


Dear Hoping to Submit,

Congratulations on nearing the completion of your dissertation! This milestone represents the culmination of years of research and, no doubt, includes insight and knowledge that builds off other scholars in your field. Putting your original work into the public realm where it will both inspire future researchers and be subject to challenge is an integral part of graduate study at Cornell. All doctoral students are required to submit their dissertation to the national dissertation repository hosted by Proquest, as well as submit copies for both print and online circulation through Cornell’s library system, so that the works will be publicly available. The Code of Legislation of the Graduate Faculty includes this language on page 35:

Access, Distribution, and Publication

To ensure broad public access to doctoral dissertations, each doctoral candidate must sign a contract with ProQuest/University Microfilms, Inc. (U.M.I.), and pay the required fee. This fee covers filming the dissertation and publishing the abstract, as well as the cost of mailing and binding library copies.

No thesis or dissertation may be classified or otherwise restricted in circulation except in time of national emergency on specific authorization of the General Committee.

There may be times when the content of a thesis or dissertation will be fully or partially published elsewhere, or includes patentable technology. In these cases, it’s possible to embargo the thesis/dissertation for a set period of time (one or two years, with possible extensions) while the patents or publications are finalized. When an embargo is requested only the abstract is made publicly available. It’s worth noting that authors retain the copyright to their works. You’ll also have options to make your dissertation available for sale, allow it to be included in Google Scholar, or order bound paper copies for your own use.

If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact me or send a message to



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration