UW Graduate School

Access Options for Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs)

Since spring 2012 the Graduate School and the Libraries have required all UW theses and dissertations to be submitted electronically through the UW ETD Administrator system provided by the ProQuest company.

After submission is complete, digital copies will be made available to researchers whose libraries provide access to Proquest’s Dissertations and Theses Global Database and via UW’s ResearchWorks Archive institutional repository. Consistent with the Policy for Deposit and Dissemination of Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations, the UW copy will be made freely available (i.e. “open access”) via the internet. There is no charge to student authors for this service.

Although most students choose to make their work available immediately, they may temporarily delay access to (or ”embargo”) the ProQuest copy, and/or delay or restrict access to the UW ResearchWorks copy for such purposes as to

  • Support publishing their research results as articles in scholarly journals
  • Allow time to pursue publication of a revised dissertation as a book
  • Protect intellectual property during the patent application process.

As shown in the table below, ProQuest and UW Libraries offer a range of options for students to control access to their work. Students may normally delay access to the ProQuest copy for up to two years, but can request more time from the company if they believe they need it. Access to the UW ResearchWorks repository copy may be limited to just UW users and campus visitors for up to 5 years, at the end of which students may request additional time; alternatively, students may choose to delay any access for 1 year. Some typical situations have been outlined in Selected ETD Access Scenarios to assist students in their decision-making.

IMPORTANT! Please note that when a thesis or dissertation is restricted, access to the body of the work is limited but descriptive information, including the citation and abstract, is provided to ProQuest and ResearchWorks. This information becomes public and is searchable by Google, Bing and other search engines. Because of this, and because it is expected that the text of all theses and dissertations will be available open access – either immediately or following a delay — care should be taken that neither the descriptive information nor the text contain confidential or sensitive information.

Overview of Access Options

Publication Options Restricted Access Periods  

How is your work accessed?

Who has access to your work?

Immediate Access (chosen by most students)


NA ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global Database Students, faculty, and researchers with access to the ProQuest database
No Access during Restricted Access Period 6 months, 1 or 2 years, or specified date NA Not accessible to anyone
UW ResearchWorks (Institutional Repository)  

Immediate Open Access

(chosen by most students)

NA UW Libraries’ ResearchWorks Anyone via the Web
UW-only Access during Restricted Access Period, followed by Open Access 1, 2 or 5 years UW Libraries’ ResearchWorks Only UW faculty and students and other on-site users of UW Libraries
No Access during Restricted Access Period, followed by

Open Access

1 year NA Not accessible to anyone