PhD candidates ought to carefully consider whether they have sufficient cause to embargo their dissertation given the possible costs of this course of action. As I detail above, many professional benefits can stem from releasing one’s dissertation online, especially in an open access forum. In contrast, as the University of California-Berkeley argued in a December 2013 memo , “The potential disadvantages of releasing the dissertation at the time of deposit, or after a short embargo, remain anecdotal.” While UC-Berkeley’s position is largely substantiated by my research, there are a few specific circumstances under which an embargo might be helpful.
A primary goal of ETD initiatives is to make the research and scholarship conducted by graduate students freely and openly accessible. Another goal is to give future academics opportunities to prepare electronic works such as book chapters, journal articles, and conference presentations, assuming that they will be publishing electronically in the future also. Yet another goal is to expand the medium of expression for graduate research and scholarship to more than words and figures that can be reproduced on paper, to other media, including audio and video. There are awards available for outstanding ETDs.