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VTechWorks Policies: Restricted and Embargoed Content

VTechWorks Policies document the practices that provide the infrastructure to the repository. These and other policies apply to content directly deposited into VTechWorks, to content ingested into VTechWorks in other systems, and to content automatically

Content and Contact

Content: https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu          Contact: vtechworks@vt.edu

Embargoed Theses and Dissertations

Graduate students who submit their thesis or dissertation through the VT Graduate School are given three (3) options for controlling the availability of their work:

  1. Provide immediate access to the public
  2. Restrict access to only to the Virginia Tech community one (1) year
  3. Withhold all access for one (1) year

Descriptive information about ETDs that are restricted to Virginia Tech is still viewable by the entire world (title, author, abstract, etc.). Those outside VT who wish to access the full content can submit a request through VTechWorks (VTW). Upon receiving such a request, VTW staff will attempt to contact the author to obtain permission to release the work publicly or to the requester alone.

No information at all is available for embargoed/withheld works, but after one (1) year the full content is usually released to the public. Authors who wish to extend the embargo/withheld period must obtain the permission of the Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education by writing grads@vt.edu as described above.

Creative works submitted in fulfillment of the MFA degree in Creative Writing are automatically embargoed/withheld for five (5) years and then are permanently restricted to Virginia Tech-only access unless the author of the MFA thesis grants permission to make their work available to the public.

For further information about embargo periods involving Virginia Tech ETDs, please contact the Virginia Tech Graduate School at grads@vt.edu or speak to a representative from your academic department.

Restricted Content

Restricted content includes VTechWorks content whose access is limited to certain VTechWorks users or user groups, such as Virginia Tech faculty, staff, students, and/or campus network users. VTechWorks authors, creators, or proxies may request that their content be restricted to selected VTechWorks users, such as VTechWorks administrators and co-authors, or designated user groups, such as their departmental colleagues, classmates, or on-campus users: VTechWorks staff can create such custom user groups with custom access and submission privileges. IUf you have submitted or plan to submit content to VTechWorks that you would like to restrict to selected users or user groups, please contact VTechWorks staff at vtechworks@vt.edu. As noted above, graduate students may choose to have their thesis or dissertation restricted to Virginia Tech for a period of up to one year. Theses and dissertations issued before 1997 that have been scanned by University Libraries staff are as on February 2017 released to the public, but we will in general honor requests by the item's author to restrict access to Virginia Tech only. See our process above for Requesting that Material be Amended or Removed.

Requesting Access to Restricted Content

If you encounter a restricted work in VTechWorks and you would like to access it, begin by clicking on the item. For example:

Clicking on the restricted item will take you to a request form asking you to fill out the information and specifically your email address. Your request will be sent to VTechWorks staff and we will attempt to contact the item’s author/creator and ask that they release the work to the public or to you.

If VTechWorks staff cannot locate the item’s author or if the item’s author does not grant permission to release the digital version of the item, you may also be able to purchase the ETD through ProQuest's database of theses and dissertations or by requesting it through your own university or public library's Interlibrary Loan program. United States copyright law grants an exception to copyright holder's right to withhold an item for Interlibrary Loan, but Interlibrary Loan is defined as "transactions between two libraries" and users must make a request "from ... another library or archives" (see https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/108 and http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/interlibraryloancode). Therefore, we are sometimes able to give copies of restricted items in VTechWorks to fulfill another library's request even though we cannot give a copy to fulfill an individual's request. If you have questions about the form or about the process of requesting restricted content, please contact vtechworks@vt.edu.

Other Embargoed Content

Apart from Virginia Tech theses and dissertations, which are submitted through the Virginia Tech Graduate School and whose embargo periods vary according to the policy of the VT Graduate School, users who deposit content directly into VTechWorks may choose to embargo their content. To embargo content is to make it private for a designated period of time, which may range from a few months to several years. Although placing an embargo will make content files private for a designated time period, the metadata that describes these content files will remain viewable and searchable.

Authors or content creators often embargo their content due to publisher requirements, since many journal publishers require an embargo of anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, or because they wish to publish a book, author a paper based on research data, or apply for patent protection. In such cases, users or their proxies may submit works through the VTechWorks submission form and enter an embargo period of their choice, or, if they have transferred their copyright to a journal publisher, enter an embargo period specified by the journal publisher.

The screenshot shown below demonstrates shows how to assign an embargo period using the VTechWorks submission form. To keep one’s content files private until a certain date, enter the date on which it should become public. Each file you add can have a different embargo period. As indicated previously, information in the item record such as title, author, and abstract will be public and searchable, and only the associated file(s) will be inaccessible. Use the pop-up calendar to pick a date or type the date in manually. Examples: 2020-04-01 (file will become public on April 1, 2020); 2020-04 (file will become public on April 1, 2020); or 2020 (file will become public on January 1, 2020).

If you wish, you may also indicate the reason you would like the file to remain private for a certain period - this is helpful for VTechWorks staff who are managing the item. The embargo reason is not shown anywhere in the public record of the item: it is for administrator use only. Examples: Awaiting publication, Applying for a patent.

For information about embargoes for items that are not theses or dissertations, e.g., journal articles, presentations, book chapters, etc., please email vtechworks@vt.edu.