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Dear UC Berkeley faculty and lecturers,
We can help you make your assigned readings and textbooks more affordable to students. The Library and the Center for Teaching & Learning have launched two pilot programs for Fall 2017, for which your participation can save students potentially hundreds of dollars each.
The first pilot service aims to reduce the cost of your print course packs through Library-assisted syllabus processing. We will locate copies of open, free, or Library-licensed versions of your assigned readings so the overall price of the print course pack or course reader is reduced.
The second service provides you with grants to either use, adapt, or develop open or library-licensed electronic textbooks and course materials. This can help saves students the cost of purchasing expensive textbooks.
Please fill out this brief form if you are interested in participating in one or both pilots (described more fully below), and we will contact you soon with details.
Pilot 1 (Course Packs): Do you assign your students a print course pack for purchase? We can help reduce the cost of that print course pack.
With the first piloted service, the Library will process your syllabus for you and search for your required readings to locate copies of open, free, or Library-licensed versions of assigned readings.
If open, free, or Library-licensed versions are available, we will give you links or PDFs to post to bCourses at no cost to your students, reducing any remaining readings that a student would have purchase as part of a print course pack.
We will also provide guidance to you for making fair use decisions–further reducing the cost of course packs, because we can help you limit instances in which a third party copy center would need to secure copyright clearance for assigned readings.
Pilot 2 (Grants): If you assign textbooks or other books, will you let us pay you from $500 up to $5,000 to switch to an electronic version of that book or to an equivalent eBook or combination of books? Or will you let us help you in adopting, adapting, or designing your own open and electronic course materials?
The Library and the Center for Teaching and Learning are offering grants and programmatic support to instructors to enable you to link to open or Library-licensed electronic textbooks or other eBooks–or even to design your own.
The grants range in value from $500 (e.g. for switching one required print book to a Library-licensed electronic book that can be linked to in bCourses) all the way up to $5,000 to receive programmatic support to design your own open & electronic course materials for students so they don’t have to purchase expensive textbooks.
The Center for Teaching & Learning and the Library can also help you find campus support to update any other attendant PowerPoints, assignments, or materials that need alteration following a change in assigned books or textbooks.
If you have any questions, please contact the Library’s Scholarly Communication Officer, Rachael Samberg: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more about affordable course content in our Guide to Open, Free, & Affordable Course Materials.
The UC Berkeley Library strengthened its commitment to making course materials more affordable for students by joining the Open Textbook Network, which supports access to freely available and openly licensed textbooks and course content.
The high and ever-increasing cost of textbooks is a significant concern for Berkeley students. Textbook prices have risen 88% in the past decade, according to a 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, and many textbooks cost upwards of $200. Print course-pack costs further compound student financial burdens.
Berkeley will work with the Open Textbook Network to advance the use of open practices on campus by offering resources and workshops to explain and expand adoption of open textbooks. Not only do open educational resources (often called “OERs”) reduce student costs, they also have a positive impact on student success by providing access to assigned course materials from the very start of class. The Open Textbook Network also maintains the Open Textbook Library, a premiere resource for peer-reviewed academic textbooks. All Open Textbook Library textbooks are free and openly licensed for use, adaption or modification.
Other new initiatives to improve the student experience
Joining the Open Textbook Network is one of several important initiatives the Library has embarked upon with campus partners to address course content affordability issues. In cooperation with the Associated Students of the University of California, Educational Technology Services, and the Center for Teaching & Learning, the Library launched an informal working group in Fall 2016 to explore how we might reduce student costs for assigned course materials. The working group obtained a charter for two pilot programs that will run in Fall 2017.
With the first piloted service, the Library will process participating instructors’ syllabi to locate copies of open, free, or Library-licensed or acquired resources that otherwise students would have had to purchase as print course packs. With the second service, the Library and its partners will offer grants and programmatic support to instructors to enable them to adopt or create open books or textbooks, thereby reducing student expenditures on high-priced materials.
“Not only will this partnership reduce student costs, but also it can advance pedagogy through the development of new and innovative course content,” says Richard Freishtat, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “I’m very excited to see what new teaching and learning approaches arise from this collaboration.”
These efforts align with campus-wide action by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education, which concurrently established a new task force to identify strategies to educate the campus about the cost of course content, and encourage practices that lower costs for students.
“While the campus has long been investigating the issue of course content affordability and has made progress, much work still needs to be done,” explains Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education Cathy Koshland. “We must further reduce course content costs and utilize accessible digital library resources to provide an equitable and engaging learning environment for our students.”
Kicking off the affordability discussion
First up on the slate of related outreach are two open discussions to be held with faculty on May 5th and May 8th. Freishtat and the Library will discuss the landscape for course content affordability issues at UC Berkeley and the campus-wide efforts being undertaken to address them. Registration is available through the Academic Innovation Studio’s events page.
Learn more or participate in the pilots
For more information about the Library’s membership in the Open Textbook Network, or with questions about the two Fall 2017 pilot programs, please contact Rachael Samberg, the Library’s Scholarly Communication Officer.
To explore programmatic support for the adoption or creation of OERs, please contact Richard Freishtat at the Center for Teaching & Learning.
To locate open and affordable educational resources or learn more about them, please visit the Library’s Guide to Open, Free, & Affordable Course Materials.
Friday, May 5, 3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Monday, May 8, 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Academic Innovation Studio
117 Dwinelle Hall
The high and ever-increasing costs of textbooks and other assigned course readings are a major concern for UC Berkeley students. College textbook prices have risen 88% in the past decade, with individual textbooks often costing at least $200 each. Print course pack costs further compound students’ financial burdens. These rising expenses come at a time when 42% of the UC student body systemwide experiences food insecurity due to inadequate living funds.
The UC Berkeley campus has begun to tackle these issues, and there are nuanced questions to address with numerous stakeholders. The Center for Teaching & Learning, University Library, and Academic Innovation Studio are excited to invite you to join this conversation and learn about:
- The landscape for course content affordability issues, and the situation at UC Berkeley;
- What campus-wide and Library-led efforts are being undertaken; and
- The tools, resources, and services instructors and students can rely on to help limit costs.
We hope you’ll join us as we launch a broad discussion about this important topic! There will be plenty of time reserved for questions and debate. We are hosting the same event on two dates to try to accommodate as many attendees’ schedules as possible.
If you have any questions, please contact Rachael Samberg, Scholarly Communication Officer at the Library, at email@example.com.
The University Library at UC Berkeley took a major step today in its commitment to achieving universal open access for scholarly journal literature by signing the OA2020 Expression of Interest, in collaboration with UC Davis and UC San Francisco.
OA2020 is an international movement, led by the Max Planck Digital Library in Munich, to convert the entire corpus of scholarly journal literature to open access by the year 2020. Open access promotes free, immediate access to research articles and the rights to use these articles to advance knowledge worldwide. OA2020 is a framework to achieve open access, and one solution for the rising costs of subscription journals and the need for reduced barriers in accessing and reusing information.
“Our mission, as scholars and educators, is to generate new knowledge for the benefit of the world,” explains Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, university librarian and professor of economics and information. “Much of the world can’t read our publications. They can’t get access because they can’t afford it. As the nation’s premier public research university, we need to be leaders in the effort to change that.”
When an institution joins the OA2020 movement, it agrees to make a good faith effort to devise and implement practical strategies and actions for attaining universal open access for scholarly journal literature. OA2020 provides the flexibility for institutions to define for themselves how they will repurpose their journal subscription funds to support open access publishing.
The UC Berkeley Library has long been a pioneer in assisting authors with open access publishing, and was one of the first institutions in the nation to create a fund (the Berkeley Research Impact Initiative) that subsidizes article processing charges so that Berkeley scholars can publish for greater impact, and be read by policy-makers and researchers around the globe. Since 2008, the University Library has supported nearly 300 open access articles from more than 250 unique authors from nearly every division and numerous disciplines on campus.
“We are excited to continue connecting with UC Berkeley scholars on these issues,” explains MacKie-Mason. “As the Academic Senate itself acknowledged with its adoption of an open access policy in 2013, the movement has tremendous value to Berkeley authors. It improves the visibility and scholarly impact of their research and output, and facilitates their ability to conduct research because of reduced access and re-use restrictions.”
In developing the campus-specific OA2020 implementation strategies, MacKie-Mason emphasizes that the Library will undertake considerable outreach to engage UC Berkeley researchers and author communities on approaches to open access publishing.
The particular models that will form the basis for Berkeley’s transition to open access will then be articulated in an OA2020 campus roadmap that the Library is developing in consultation with key stakeholders. The Library has posted an early draft of this roadmap on an OA2020 project website created by the now four U.S. signatory campuses.
MacKie-Mason secured broad institutional support for the OA2020 Expression of Interest. Following a September 2016 meeting attended by representatives from the Max Planck Digital Library and various UC campuses, MacKie-Mason coordinated a multi-campus working group to evaluate and report on OA2020 implementation issues. The Faculty Senate Library Committee (LIBR) reviewed these materials and voted in favor of UC Berkeley’s participation, as did the Council of Deans led by now Chancellor-designate Carol Christ, who signed the Expression of Interest on behalf of the university.
“Open access will have a direct impact on Berkeley researchers,” Christ says. “It provides an enhanced ability for faculty to use new and emerging research and scholarship in the classroom. We are thrilled to participate in OA2020 and other open access efforts that provide pathways for promoting and sharing knowledge.”
About the University Library
The University Library at UC Berkeley is an internationally renowned research and teaching facility at the nation’s premier public university. A highly diverse and intellectually rich environment, Berkeley serves a campus community of approximately 27,400 undergraduate students, 10,700 graduate students, and 1,600 faculty members. The Library comprises of 25 libraries, including the Doe/Moffitt Libraries, The Bancroft Library, the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, and numerous subject specialty libraries. With a collections budget of over $15 million, the Library offers extensive collections in all formats and robust services to connect users with the collections and build their research skills, while also working to help UC Berkeley scholars build research impact.
This post originally appeared on the University of California Office of Scholarly Communication‘s blog, March 6, 2017.
The University of California Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) and the University of California Libraries issue the following statement in response to recent actions by the new federal administration and in order to address resulting concerns about continued open access to and preservation of information, scholarship, and knowledge.
The unfettered exchange and careful preservation of information are fundamental to democracy, progress, and intellectual freedom. The critical research and scholarship conducted by government entities and academic institutions worldwide safeguard and support human rights, public health, the environment, artistic and literary enterprise, scientific and technological innovation, and much more. This scholarship is critical for informed discourse and policy development throughout society. As such, the fruits of governmental and scholarly research—the data and documentation generated and released—must remain publicly available and must not be suppressed, endangered, or altered to serve political ends.
To encourage broad dissemination of research and scholarship, the faculty of the University of California and the UC President have implemented open access policies that echo many of the open data and scholarship mandates adopted by the federal government. Recognizing that open access to research increases scientific, scholarly, and critical knowledge, the UC system has committed, via these policies, to making all UC scholarly articles widely and freely accessible, regardless of access restrictions elsewhere. Now more than ever, UC faculty and staff’s participation in these open access policies is fundamental to ensuring persistent, unfettered access to valuable data and research.
OSC and the UC Libraries are working to protect public access to government data and research in the event that the original sources for these materials should be compromised. In the coming weeks, OSC and librarians on each of the UC campuses will identify specific actions to be taken to ensure that research data, publications, and scholarship remain accessible and discoverable. These efforts are not intended to supplant the authoritative sources for government data, publications, and information. Rather, we are working to make certain that these materials remain shielded from inappropriate political influence or suppression.
We support similar information rescue and preservation efforts taking place around the country and encourage other institutions to join in this commitment. We look forward to seeing statements from our peer institutions (and encourage any who wish to borrow or adapt ours), and we welcome opportunities to work with these institutions on projects supporting access to and preservation of the scholarly record. In particular, we offer our collaboration to those working in disciplines or within organizations facing new threats.
In the meantime, we wish to underscore our commitment to advocating not only for researchers and authors at UC campuses, but also for scholars and readers worldwide, and to emphasize our dedication to ensuring information access as an essential public good. We will continue to champion these professional and democratic values and to challenge any policies or practices that levy obstacles to intellectual exchange.
Please join Science Data & Engineering Librarian Anna Sackmann and Scholarly Communication Officer Rachael Samberg for practical tips about why, where, and how to publish and license your research data.
Why Should We Care About Publishing Research Data?
Sharing research data promotes transparency, reproducibility, and progress. Indeed, it can spur new discoveries on a daily basis. It’s not atypical for geneticists, for example, to sequence by day and post research results the same evening—allowing others to begin using their datasets in nearly real time (see, for example, Pisani & AbouZahr’s paper about this data publishing cycle). The datasets researchers share can, in turn, inform business or regulatory policymaking, legislation, government or social services, and much more.
Publishing your research data can also increase the impact of your research, and with it, your scholarly profile. Depositing datasets in a repository makes them both visible and citable. You can include them in your CV and grant application biosketches. Conversely, scholars around the world can begin working with your data and crediting you. As a result, sharing detailed research data can be associated with increased citation rates (check out this Piwowar et al. study, among others).
Publishing your data may also be required. Federal funders (e.g. National Institutes of Health), grant agencies (e.g. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and journal publishers (e.g. PLoS and other journals listed in this Open Access Directory) increasingly require that datasets be made publicly available to readers—often immediately upon associated article publication.
How Do We Publish Data?
Merely uploading your dataset to a personal or departmental website won’t achieve these aims of promoting knowledge and progress. Datasets should be able to link seamlessly to any research articles they support. Their metadata should be compatible with bibliographic management and citation systems (e.g. CrossRef or Ref Works), and be formatted for crawling by abstracting and indexing services. After all, you want to be able to find other people’s datasets, manage them in a your own reference manager, and cite them as appropriate. So, you’d want your own dataset to be positioned for the same discoverability and ease of use.
How can you achieve all this? It sounds daunting, but it’s actually pretty straightforward and simple. You’ll just want to select a data publishing tool or service that is built around both preservation and discoverability: It should offer you a stable location or DOI (which will provide a persistent link to your data’s location), help you create sufficient metadata to facilitate transparency and reproducibility, and optimize the metadata for search engines.
For instance, UC’s Dash tool is a terrific and easy-to-use solution that preserves and publishes your datasets. At the Feb. 16 workshop we’re hosting, you can learn more about how to prepare, describe, and upload your data for deposit and publishing with Dash and other tools.
We also recommend that, if your chosen publishing tool enables it, you should include your ORCID (a persistent digital identifier) with your datasets just like with all your other research. This way, your research and scholarly output will be collocated in one place, and it will become easier for others to discover and credit your work.
What Does it Mean to License Your Data For Reuse?
Uploading a dataset—with good metadata, of course!—to a repository is not the end of the road for shepherding one’s research. We must also consider what we are permitting other researchers to do with our data. And, what rights do we, ourselves, have to grant such permissions—particularly if we got the data from someone else, or the datasets were licensed to us for a particular use?
To better understand these issues, we first have to distinguish between attribution and licensing. Citing datasets is an essential scholarly practice. But the issue of someone citing your data is separate from the question of whether it’s permissible for them to use the data in the first place. That is, what license for reuse have you applied to the dataset?
To try to streamline ownership and copyright questions, and promote data reuse, often data repositories will simply apply a particular “Creative Commons” license or public domain designation to all deposited datasets. For instance:
- Dryad and BioMed Central repositories apply a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) designation to deposited data—meaning that, by depositing in those repositories, you are not reserving any copyright that you might have. Someone using your dataset still should cite the dataset to comply with scholarly norms, but you cannot mandate that they attribute you and cannot pursue copyright claims against them.
- UC Dash applies a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license to datasets deposited by UC researchers. This means that someone using your Dash-deposited dataset not only should cite it to adhere to scholarly norms, but also is required to attribute you as the author.
What’s the Right License or Designation for Your Data?
Well, sometimes you don’t have a say in the matter, as your funding agreement or the repository you choose dictates the license applied. Otherwise, it’s worth considering what your goals are for sharing the data to begin with, and selecting a designation or license that both meets your needs and fits within whatever ownership and use rights you have over the data. Your Scholarly Communication Officer or librarian can help you with this.
Bear in mind that ambiguity surrounding the ability to reuse data inhibits the pace of research. So, try to identify clearly for potential users what rights are being granted in the dataset you publish.
How To Learn More if You’re a UC Berkeley Researcher
Come to the workshop, of course! For data publishing questions, contact the Research Data Management team at firstname.lastname@example.org. With questions about data ownership, copyright, or licensing, contact the Library’s Scholarly Communication Officer at email@example.com. You can also check out the Research Data Management website for more on preserving and disseminating your data. In the meantime, we hope to see you at the workshop next week!
by Rachael Samberg in Scholarly Communications on February 9th, 2017
Join faculty, students, and colleagues for wine and cheese as the UC Berkeley community recognizes and discusses UCB open access papers at the BRII & Brie Author Recognition Event (open to all) being held in Morrison Library on Feb. 22, 2017 from 5:00-6:30 p.m.
We’re Celebrating Because You’ve Published For Impact
You’re over the moon because your new paper has just been accepted to a high-impact journal that is published open access—free, digital, and available to anyone online. You chose this journal because open access (OA) publishing can promote increased readership by lowering access barriers, and can spur innovation through fewer restrictions on use.
But suddenly you’re faced with a quandary: There’s a steep fee to make all this happen—an “article processing charge” (APC), typically somewhere between $650-$3,500, that authors are asked to provide to publishers for OA publication in lieu of typical print-subscription fees paid for by libraries. You want people to read and cite your scholarship, and you hope to advance knowledge by enabling maximal use of your scholarly output. But how can you finance and participate in this new scholarly publishing landscape?
One option is to deposit a copy of the article you submitted into a repository, in keeping with the UC system’s OA policy. (For more on the OA policy, see the UCOP Office of Scholarly Communication’s helpful guide.) To that end, UC scholars and staff can deposit pre-print copies of their publications in eScholarship (the repository created by California Digital Library), or can choose a discipline-specific repository like arXiv or the new Humanities Commons.
Depositing preprints and making them available at no cost to the public in this fashion can have remarkable impacts for building knowledge and augmenting your academic reputation. Yet, there is still one other parameter of an APC-based OA publishing system that remains to be addressed: covering the APC, itself. What can you do when an esteemed open access journal like BMC Biology asks you to provide $2,785 to publish your accepted paper in their online journal? Maybe you have grant funds to cover this APC, but maybe you don’t, and maybe you don’t have a grant at all.
What’s The Solution?
UC Berkeley’s Library can help, and we’re about to start celebrating that. The Berkeley Research Impact Initiative (BRII) makes APC funding available to UC Berkeley authors (current faculty members, post-docs, students, researchers) and publishers (campus Centers, Organized Research Units, and Departments) to make your publications free to all readers immediately upon publication—thereby also helping to increase the impact of your scholarship.
Started in 2008, BRII has provided around $400,000 of funding for several hundred articles and publications across numerous discipline areas. In a 2016 paper, authors Teplitzky and Phillips reported that 89% of responding BRII recipients agreed that the availability of BRII to help pay the APC or open access fee for their article affected their decision about where to publish, and 44% had not published an open access article prior to the one funded by BRII. Most respondents (82%) believed their article had a greater impact overall because it was OA.
Let’s Celebrate UC Berkeley Scholarship!
So, it’s high time to recognize the scholarship of BRII-funded authors, and raise awareness about available BRII funding. That’s exactly what the Library will be doing with the BRII & Brie Author Recognition Event (open to all) being held in Morrison Library on Feb. 22, 2017 from 5:00-6:30 p.m.
You can hear remarks from University Librarian Jeff MacKie-Mason and BRII-funded faculty members about their scholarship, and the impact of BRII and open access. There will also be a lightning round of paper discussions by attending BRII recipients, so you can learn more about the OA scholarship being created here at UC Berkeley. BRII-funded works will also be displayed, so if you already are a BRII recipient, please RSVP by January 20 to have your work shown at the event.
We hope you’ll join us to celebrate your colleagues in an evening of learning and author recognition. If you know little about OA or BRII, but aspire to publish, please join us to find out more about this important funding program. RSVP here!
Opening the Conversation About DH Project Preservation
By Rachael G. Samberg & Stacy Reardon
After intensive research, hard work, and maybe even fundraising, you launch your digital humanities (DH) project into the world. Researchers anywhere have instant access to your web app, digital archive, data set, or project website. But what will happen to your scholarly output in five years? In twenty-five? What happens if you change institutions, or institutional priorities shift? Will your digital project be updated or forced to close up shop? Who should ensure that your project remains available to researchers? Which departments should guide long-term sustainability of your research? (more…)
This post was originally published on the University of California Scholarly Communication Blog.
You’ve worked painstakingly for years (we won’t let on how many) on your magnum opus: your dissertation—the scholarly key to completing your graduate degree, securing a possible first book deal, and making inroads toward faculty status somewhere. Then, as you are about to submit your pièce de résistance through ProQuest’s online administration system, you are confronted with the realization that—for students at many institutions—your dissertation is about to be made available open access online to readers all over the world (hurrah! and gulp).
Because your dissertation will be openly available online, there are many questions you need to address—both about what you put in your dissertation, and the choices you’ll need to make as you put it online. If you are a first-time author, facing these concerns can be daunting to say the least. And you definitely don’t want to be thinking about them for the first time when you are scrambling to submit your dissertation to ProQuest.
For instance, you’ll need to consider:
- Are you using materials created by other people in your dissertation? Perhaps you’re using photos, text excerpts, scientific drawings or diagrams? You might need the authors’ permission to include them.
- Are you including information about particular living individuals? You might need to consider their privacy rights (see, for instance, a discussion on p. 15 of a University of Michigan dissertation guide).
- If you own copyright in your dissertation (as most grad students in the UC campus system do), should you register your copyright?
- Do you need to embargo your dissertation for privacy, patent, or other concerns?
- Should you license your dissertation for greater use by others?
At UC Berkeley, we’ve created a workflow and guide for you to tackle these kinds of important copyright and other legal questions. Below, I’ve included highlights from the workflow, but there are plenty more best practices to draw upon in the guide. What follows are, of course, exactly that: best practices, and not legal advice. Your local scholarly communication officer or librarian (see this list for some resources around UC) can help you find additional information as you consider these issues for your own dissertation.
Copyright Basics First
Before using the workflow, it can be helpful first to understand what copyright is—and is not. In short, copyright means that authors get exclusive publishing, reproduction, and other rights over their original works of expression for limited periods of time.
What this means for your dissertation is: If you’re including someone else’s work that’s “in copyright,” meaning protectable by copyright law and still within that limited time period (usually at least an author’s life + 70 years in the U.S), then you need to think about whether you need the author’s permission to include that work. You don’t need permission if your use would be “fair” under the law. Don’t worry, our guide helps address what’s considered fair use, as well as what’s eligible for copyright protection to begin with.
Okay, on to the workflow. Remember, you’ll need to ask these questions for every work you include that was created by someone else. And, keep in mind that addressing these questions takes time.
You don’t need the copyright holder’s permission to include an excerpt / photo / diagram / whatever-you’re-using if any one of the following is true:
- The copyright holder has already granted a license for you to include their work. Sometimes, authors have already provided permission through grants such as Creative Commons licenses. For instance, this is a photo of people talking over ice cream that I took and that you can use for any purposes as long as you attribute me as the author (i.e. I’ve applied a Creative Commons Attribution, or CC-BY license, to it).
- The work is in the public domain. Public domain works are open for use with no permission needed. Just because a work is online does not mean it’s in the public domain. Rather, public domain refers to works for which copyright protections have expired, or works that were ineligible for protection in the first place (facts, ideas, federal government materials, etc.).
- Publishing the content would be fair use. Fair use—which is meant to encourage teaching, research, scholarship, criticism, and parody—allows you to exercise the otherwise-exclusive rights of the copyright holder (distribution, creating adaptations, etc.) without having to seek the copyright holder’s permission. For a use to be fair, though, you have to consider four factors that collectively weigh in favor of “fair use.” Records of your fair use analysis—which you can create by filling out a checklist—can be very helpful to have on hand if there are ever questions about your reasoning or use.
Remember: Attribution is not the same as permission! Even if you cite your sources (which, of course, you will!), this doesn’t mean you have permission to include the excerpts from them in the first place. And, if you’re linking to an authorized (e.g. not illegally-posted) source, it’s always fine (at least in the U.S.!) to link to the content online rather than including the item itself.
If you couldn’t answer “yes” to anything in Step 1, you’ll need to seek the copyright holder’s permission to include the work or excerpt in your dissertation. Obtaining permission can take a long time, so plan in advance. You’ll need to research and locate the copyright holder and then ask, in writing, for permission covering all your intended uses. Here are some useful sample permission request letters:
- University of Texas Libraries: Template letter for requesting permission
- George Washington University Library: Sample permission letter
- UCLA Library: Sample permission letter
Remember: A copyright holder’s silence is not permission. If you do not hear back in response to your request, you are now faced with a question of risk assessment, and whether to keep seeking permission or embrace the likelihood (or not) of the rights holder challenging your use down the road. In some of these situations, you may ultimately decide to limit your use further, or use a different work entirely—but you’ll need to make a decision one way or the other.
Human subject research methodology, issues of indigenous knowledge, and other ethical concerns are best discussed with your dissertation advisors and institutional review boards. But the workflow does address a few other legal questions that at first might seem like copyright questions, yet actually pertain to different legal doctrines.
For instance, while copyright protects copyright holders’ property rights in their works, privacy law protects the interests of people who are the subjects of those works. Privacy rights in scholarship most often arise if you are seeking to use third party content like correspondence, diaries, and images that contain personal information about or pictures of particular people. But, they expire at death—meaning, you can’t be liable for disclosing private facts about a person no longer living. There are typically two additional important defenses to claims for invasion of privacy: newsworthiness and permission. If the material you wish to include reveals private facts that are of public interest or concern (which your dissertation scholarship may be) or if the person who is the subject of the information has given you permission to include it (which you may have obtained), then an invasion of privacy claim should not be sustainable.
If you are a UC graduate student, your dissertation will be made available through ProQuest and/or published open access online in eScholarship. There are some issues to consider before clicking “submit”:
- Should you register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office? As a UC student, in most cases, you automatically own the copyright in your dissertation. However, registering copyright in your dissertation offers certain distinct advantages: It provides public record that you are indeed the author and owner, and also enables greater enforcement of your rights against infringers or plagiarists.
- Should you embargo your dissertation? Making your work available to be read online immediately has many advantages. Not only does it establish when your work was created and published (which can help combat plagiarism), but also it can help build your academic reputation. There are circumstances, however, that would warrant an embargo—such as situations where there would be disclosure of patentable rights or there are ethical concerns, or a book/journal publisher has demanded it (which is rare). You should consult guidance from your institution about when embargos are recommended or approved. For instance, here are UC Berkeley’s guidelines on embargoes.
- Do you want to license your work beyond fair use? As with any other copyrighted work, other scholars can make fair use of your dissertation in their own research. You can also decide to license your work beyond what fair use allows by applying a Creative Commons license to it. This should be a careful decision, which you discuss fully with your dissertation advisors and journal or monograph publishers in your field. There may be discipline-specific reasons to decide to—or not to—license your work, so examine them closely.
Once you get into the groove of answering these workflow questions, you’ll become a pro at addressing copyright and other policy issues in all of your subsequent scholarship, too. Perhaps the two most important points to keep in mind are:
- Start early, since this workflow can take some time, and
- Contact the librarian or scholarly communication officer on your campus who can help walk you through all this. For UC Berkeley researchers, I’m here for you!
Good luck, and keep writing!
P.S. Want more beyond our guide? There are several other excellent online resources about electronic dissertations to check out:
- Kenneth D. Crews, Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis: Ownership, Fair Use, and Your Rights and Responsibilities
- University of Michigan’s Copyright for Dissertations: Getting Started
- University of Michigan’s A Graduate Student’s Guide to Copyright: Open Access, Fair Use, and Permissions
- Hillary Corbett, ETDs and the Consequences of Openness
- Ohio State’s Copyright in Your Thesis or Dissertation