Authors: Karen Rupp-Serrano, Jen Waller
A common concern about openly available electronic theses and dissertations is that their “openness” will prevent graduate student authors from publishing their work commercially in the future. A handful of studies have explored aspects of this topic; this study reviewed dissertation-to-book publication patterns at Carnegie Classification R1 academic institutions.
This study analyzed over 23,000 dissertations from twelve U.S. universities to determine how frequently dissertations were subsequently published as books matching the original dissertation in pagination, chapters, and subject matter.
WorldCat and several other resources were used to make publication determinations.
Across the sample set, a very small percentage of dissertations were published as books that matched the original dissertation on pagination, chapters, and subject matter. The average number of years for dissertations in the study to be published as books was determined for broad subject categories and for select academic disciplines.
Results were compared across public and private institutions, and books that were self-published or published by questionable organizations were identified.
Dissertation-to-book trends occur primarily in the social sciences, humanities, and arts. With dissertations for which the author is actively working to publish as a book, the commonly offered 6- to 24-month embargo periods appear sufficient, provided that extensions or renewals continue to be available.
This study has implications for librarians providing services to graduate students, faculty advisors, and graduate colleges/schools in regard to dissertation embargo lengths, self-publishing, and what we have termed questionable publishers, as these areas continue to provide opportunities for librarians to educate these stakeholders.