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Research Guides

Dissertations and Theses

A Note about Databases and Embargoes

Dissertations go into two databases: the ProQuest Digital Dissertations and Theses database and CUNY's open access institutional repository, CUNY Academic Works. Master's theses and all capstone projects are deposited only in CUNY Academic Works.

You can embargo (temporarily block public online access) to your dissertation, capstone project, or thesis in neither, either, or both databases — it’s up to you. If you embargo in both databases, you can select the same embargo length for both or choose different embargo lengths. For both databases, your initial embargo options are:

  • no embargo
  • six-month embargo
  • one-year embargo
  • two-year embargo

Limitations of Embargoes: Public access to a dissertation/thesis is a condition of the degree. Embargoed dissertations and theses are not completely invisible or inaccessible. 

  • Print copies: Print copies (if applicable) of embargoed works are available in the Graduate Center Library. (Note: The library stopped collecting print dissertations in 2016.)
  • Microfilm copies: Microfilm copies (if applicable) of embargoed works are also available in the library and may be lent through interlibrary loan. (Note: The library stopped collecting microfilm dissertations in 2014.)
  • Electronic copies: Electronic copies of embargoed works remain accessible to individual researchers through interlibrary loan and to members of the Graduate Center community.
  • Metadata: Author, title, abstracts, and metadata are available even if an author chooses to embargo.

Changing Your Embargo

If you want to change your embargo settings after you've deposited or graduated, you must contact ProQuest and the Graduate Center Library separately.

  • ProQuest: Contact ProQuest’s Author and School Relations group at or 1-800-521-0600 x77020 to change your embargo settings at no cost. Provide your name, your dissertation/thesis title, your school, and, if possible, the publication number assigned by ProQuest to your dissertation/thesis. (You should have received this by email.)
  • Graduate Center Library: Email to change your embargo settings in CUNY Academic Works, CUNY's institutional repository. Again, your options are no embargo, a six-month embargo, a one-year embargo, or a two-year embargo. As your embargo nears expiration, you can contact the library again to extend your embargo, if you wish. Options for renewal are the same as the initial embargo options: six-month renewal, one-year renewal, or two-year renewal.

To Embargo or Not to Embargo?

Open Access and the Graduate Author: A Dissertation Anxiety Manual by Jill Cirasella and Polly Thistlethwaite. This chapter was originally published in: Smith, K. L., & Dickson, K. A. (Eds.). (2017). Open access and the future of scholarly communication: Implementation. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Hear and read some key thoughts from the GC event “Share It Now or Save It For Later: Making Choices about Dissertations and Publishing,” featuring the MLA's Director of Scholarly Communications, two university press editors, and two recent alumni.