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Caltech Theses: Thesis Embargo Policy and Forms

Ph.D. theses must be submitted in electronic form as part of the graduation requirements for Caltech. This guide serves as a stepping-off point for this process.


Doctoral Thesis Dissemination Policy (effective March 1, 2017)

Use the questionnaire on this page to help decide which type of embargo would be your best choice.

Please note that any embargo is only for 6 months at a time.  If you need an extension for one of the accepted reasons, you must use the Exception form to request the extension.

The Library will embargo your thesis files as requested while awaiting the decision of the Review Committee.

When filling out the chosen form, please be sure to include your reasons for requesting an embargo.  Provide the titles of any journals to which you are submitting manuscripts from your thesis.  If you are working on a patent with OTTCP, you will need to include identifying patent information.


The Review Committee, which includes the University Librarian, OTTCP (as needed), the Division Chair, the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Vice-Provost, must approve requests for either a full embargo or an extension of a current embargo. Please read the Policy carefully to find out what kinds of requests are more likely to be approved.

If approval is not given, your thesis' embargo status will be moved down to the next level, whi=ichever one is appropriate: from Full Embargo to Campus-Only, or from Campus-Only to Public Access.

Check the Publishers Thesis Policies Libguide page.  Contact us if you're not sure about your publisher's requirements, or if the publisher has given you contradictory information.

Please contact us if you have any questions.


Access and Restriction Options

You should consider these options carefully. Feel free to ask Caltech Intellectual Property Office or legal counsel for advice, and to discuss this with your advisor.

  • Please read the Thesis Dissemination Policy thoroughly to understand your options and limitations.  Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions.
  • If you have any patent information included in your thesis, you may want to consider embargoing at least portions of your thesis.  You should consider discussing this with someone in the Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partners as your patent application may be far enough along in the process to obviate the need for any access restrictions for your thesis.
  • If you intend to work with a publisher regarding journal or book publications, be sure you understand their policies and any agreements you would sign.  We do know of one (1) publisher who requires rights to first publication, and who will likely require you to embargo the chapter that you have submitted for publication as an article.
  • If you decide to restrict all or portions of your thesis, please make a note of it in the Internal Notes field in the Description tab of your CaltechTHESIS record. 
  • You will need to also fill out one of the three forms above, identifying the portion of the thesis to be restricted as well as the reason why.
  • If your application for a full embargo of your thesis files is not approved, your thesis file(s)’ access status will be changed to Restricted to Campus-Only for the same length of time.  You and your advisor(s) will be notified of the change.
  • If your thesis files were fully embargoed, you and your advisor(s) will receive an email notification approximately one month before your thesis' access is scheduled to become unrestricted.


Can I Embargo Thesis Chapters?

Yes! You may embargo either your full thesis file and/or separate thesis chapter files.

Specific chapters of a thesis can be embargoed as long as they are uploaded separately into the CaltechTHESIS record in addition to the full thesis file. Within CaltechTHESIS, each thesis file attached to the thesis record is treated separately and can have different access options than other files.  For example, ch.1 could be publicly available, ch.2-3 could be restricted to campus, and ch.4 could be fully embargoed.  The full thesis file would then be fully embargoed too.

The full thesis file's embargo status will always match that of the most restrictive embargo status of any of the other chapter files at any given time over the lifetime of the embargo.  The full thesis will not become publicly available until the last of the restricted chapter files have been publicly released.

The appropriate embargo form must still be submitted by the student and/or advisor, and the Library will process the embargo request following the policy guidelines.


Important Changes to ACS Embargo Policy

Important Change: the American Chemical Society has changed its blanket policies about thesis embargoes, and leaving it up to editorial boards.   Request for extensions of ACS-related full embargoes that were previously approved will no longer necessarily be granted.  Please check the Publishers' Policies libguide page on ACS journals for details.

Do I need to submit an embargo form?