Dissertation Embargo Guidelines

In cases where papers are in press, patents are pending, or where there are other intellectual property concerns, it may be beneficial to delay publication ("embargo"). Students should discuss with their advisor whether a delay in publication is necessary or advisable, and may also reach out to their subject librarian for guidance.   

Embargo Options

Dissertations are available through three primary venues: ProQuest, ScholarlyCommons, and for dissertations prior to 2020, the Penn Libraries stacks. Students may apply for a delay in publication/embargo in ProQuest and in ScholarlyCommons. 


ProQuest is a third-party, commercial resource that provides full-text access to electronic dissertations to Penn faculty, students, staff, and anyone else with a ProQuest institutional subscription. Members of the public may view the first 24 pages of a dissertation before being prompted to purchase a copy of the dissertation. 

ProQuest offers the following embargo options: 6 months, 1 year or 2 years.


ScholarlyCommons is the University of Pennsylvania's open access institutional repository for gathering, indexing, storing, and making widely available to the public the scholarly output of the Penn community. Since December 2015, Penn has required open access publication of dissertations in ScholarlyCommons. Full-text access to electronic dissertations is available to all members of the public (except dissertations that are embargoed). For more information about ScholarlyCommons, visit http://guides.library.upenn.edu/scholarlycommons/.

ScholarlyCommons offers the following embargo options: 3 years only.

Full-text dissertations available in ScholarlyCommons can be seen by anyone in the world, whereas the full-text of dissertations in ProQuest are only available to those with an institutional subscription. Dissertations prior to 2015 can be added at the request of the author by contacting grad-degree@provost.upenn.edu

Note that dissertations may have two records in ScholarlyCommons: one in Publicly Available Penn Dissertations and one in Dissertations Available From ProQuest.