Doctoral Writing Center

Knowing My Rights When Publishing

Publishing your dissertation or an element of your dissertation is an exciting process. However, it is also important to know what the process entails in terms of copyright and embargo so you can make educated decisions regarding your work and your ownership of it.

Let’s first look at a few key terms:



Refers to when access to the full-text of an article/manuscript is restricted (generally for 12-18 months). While individuals will not be able to access your entire manuscript, they will be able to read a summary/sample of it.


This is a type of intellectual property that ensures the author ownership of their material and right to copy and redistribute it.


Non Exclusive License

The publisher can use the manuscript/content but the author reserves the right to publish the same content elsewhere.


Exclusive License

The publisher reserves the right to redistribute or sell the manuscript/content to third parties without consulting the author.

Creative Commons License (CC)

This license specifies how others can use your work in their own projects. There are a variety of types of CC licenses. Some allow individuals to use your work as long as they give you credit, some require individuals to obtain a license, and others restrict commercial vs. noncommercial use (just to name a few). For additional information, see here.

How Does This Affect Me?

1. Ownership

Consider how much ownership you would like to have of your manuscript. Do you feel comfortable with a journal redistributing your work how they see fit? Do you want more control over that process and a say in the sales?

2. Visibility

Check a journal’s or database’s embargo specifications prior to submitting your manuscript. Remember that while you maintain copyright of your work and the way in which it is presented, you do not have copyright of the ideas that are included within the work. Thus, ask yourself, is it to your advantage to allow yourself extra time to create additional publications or use the findings you have determined in some way prior to allowing the public access? In turn, works without an embargo are more visible/accessible. This means they will be cited more often and the work can be used by scholars in the field.

3. Future Plans

Consider how you envision your future as a publishing author. Do you want to revise particular excerpts of your work and submit them to various journals? Do you want to adapt it into a book-chapter or perhaps an entire book? If so, ensure you maintain the rights to do so. If you publish with a journal that absorbs copyright, you no longer have permission to reproduce your work.

Options for Publication

There are ample avenues you could pursue for publication. As a starting point in your research for what fits you and your goals best, see below.