Skip to Main Content

Graduate Students: An Introduction to Library Resources

This guide is intended as a starting point for UNC graduate students.

Copyright and Graduate Students

Copyright and Your Roles as TA, GA, and Author

Copyright law impinges upon many aspects of your graduate education. Read our Copyright Basics web page to review the essentials.

First, it affects your role as a Teaching Assistant (TA).  See our informative For Teaching at UNC web page to learn about copyright compliance in the classroom.

Second, copyright law impinges upon your role as a Graduate Assistant (GA) and Researcher. See the Research at UNC web page to bolster your understanding of copyright law as it applies to scholarly information gathering.

Finally, in your role as a Dissertation, Thesis, or Capstone project author you will be asked to make some crucial decisions regarding copyright as it relates to the format, registration, content, and publication of your work. See our Copyright Ownership web page to review basic author’s rights. 

For an in-depth treatment, read "Copyright & Your Dissertation or Thesis: Ownership, Fair Use, & Your Rights and Responsibilities" by Kenneth Crews.

Authors: Publication of Your Dissertation, Thesis, or Capstone Project

Subsequent to its final submission to the Graduate School, Michener Library makes your dissertation, thesis, or project available to library users in five formats, as follows:

1. One paper copy is located in the third-floor stacks of Michener Library; it is available for checkout to local patrons and also through interlibrary loan to distant borrowers affiliated with other libraries.

2. Another paper copy is stored in the University Archives and may only be used on-site.

3. A microfiche copy is stored at Michener Library and may only be used on-site.

4. An online copy is published through ProQuest’s subsidiary, UMI Dissertation Publishing. The University contracts with ProQuest to publish your dissertation, thesis, or project in digital format in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) database. Thousands of libraries subscribe to the PQDT database. The abstract of your dissertation, thesis, or project, and a 24-page preview, appear in the database.  Users of the PQDT database have the option to purchase a copy of your dissertation, thesis, or project (in digital, print, or microfiche format) and if purchased, you will receive royalties. This abstract, preview, and purchase option is ProQuest’s traditional type of publication.  However, if you as an author choose the open access type of publishing instead, then access to the full text of your dissertation, thesis, or project will be open to all PQDT subscribers and you will receive no royalties. 5. An additional online copy is published in Dissertations & Theses @ University of Northern Colorado (DT@UNC).  DT@UNC is a local subset of the larger PQDT database and it contains the full text of dissertations, theses, and projects completed at UNC beginning in 1997. In DT@UNC the complete full text of your dissertation, thesis, or project is made available in digital format to students, staff, and faculty of the University, as well as on-site (walk-in) community patrons. This online copy is available regardless of whether you choose traditional or open access publishing.

6. A copy can be deposited in UNC's digital institutional repository, Digital UNC. This is a service offered by the UNC Libraries to store, organize, and provide electronic access to examples of the University of Northern Colorado's information resources and intellectual output, including dissertations. Depositing your dissertation into Digital UNC allows your work to be preserved, made freely available worldwide (“open access”), and made discoverable through Internet search engines.

Graduate School and ProQuest Links 

Publication manuals for UNC students are available on the Theses, Capstone and Dissertation Resources page of the Graduate School web site. The manuals address copyright registration and format of the copyright page.

See also the Final Forms on the Student Forms web page to get instructions for submitting your final manuscript as well as links to ProQuest’s publishing agreements. See the FAQ below to guide you through the eight key decisions relating to copyright and publication of your dissertation, thesis, or project.


1. Should I publish my dissertation/thesis/project with ProQuest?

Doctoral students are required to publish with ProQuest. Masters students have the option. See the ProQuest Authors page for more information.

2. Should I register my copyright?

Although your copyright is implicit upon creation, registration is recommended as it secures certain legal rights.

Registration directly through the US Copyright Office costs $35; ProQuest's registration service is more convenient but costs $55.

3. Should I include a copyright notice page in my dissertation/thesis/project?

While not required unless you register through ProQuest, it is recommended as it provides explicit notice to the reader.

4. What if portions of my dissertation/thesis/project were previously published or are they about to be published elsewhere?

If so, you must secure permission from that publisher. See the ProQuest guide on Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis.

5. What if my dissertation/thesis/project contains copyrighted content from another author?

Apply the Fair Use test to determine whether proper quotation and citation is sufficient, or if written permission is also needed. See the ProQuest guide on Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis.

6. ProQuest only: Should I choose an immediate release or embargoed publishing timeline?

See the ProQuest guide on Embargoes & Restrictions for a thorough discussion.

7. ProQuest only: Should I permit search engine access to the abstract of my dissertation/thesis/project?

See the ProQuest guide on Embargoes & Restrictions for a thorough discussion.