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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Copyright for Graduate Students: Theses and Dissertations

Copyright and IDEALS

The Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS) is the institutional repository of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Starting in 2010, the Graduate College has required that all theses and dissertations be made available in IDEALS. The repository contains over 40,000 graduate theses along with scholarship produced by U of I faculty and staff. 

You still own the copyright to your work, it is just made publicly accessible through the repository. You are not preventing yourself from publishing your work in a scholarly journal or book by placing it in IDEALS. In fact, IDEALS data (such as the number of times other scholars have downloaded your work) could help you locate a publisher who is interested in your work and help you market your research. 

IDEALS Release Options

After a thesis or dissertation has been transferred to IDEALS, students can choose from one of three release options:

  • Open Access: The thesis will be immediately publicly available through IDEALS
  • U of I Access: Access will be restricted to members of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for 2 years and available through interlibrary loan, but will become publicly available after this time expires.
  • Closed Access: Access will be restricted so that it will not be available to anyone, even the creator or adviser for a period of 2 years, after which it will become publicly available through IDEALS.

Benefits to Open Access release:

  • Make it easy for other researchers to find/cite your work
  • Market your work to potential publishers
  • Contribute to ongoing scholarly discussions in your field
  • Have an easy link to share your work

Reasons for placing a 2-year embargo on your work:

  • If you have sensitive data/information that you wish to protect (i. e., potentially patentable information)
  • A publisher requires you to embargo your work (note that you can always have your work openly available later and opt to embargo your work if a publisher so requires)
  • You do not wish to openly share your work with the scholarly community

Learn More

Copyright statement in IDEALS

To properly administer the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS) and to preserve the contents for future use, the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois on behalf of its Urbana-Champaign campus (the "University") requires certain permissions and warrants from you, the author(s) and/or copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner, by accepting this license, you still retain copyright to your work and do not give up the right to submit the work to publishers or other repositories. If you are not the copyright owner, you represent that the copyright owner has given you permission to deposit the work.

License is a fancy way of saying contract or agreement. You agree to provide the journal with your work and the journal agrees to publish your work. 

The statement also requires you to be the “copyright owner” of the work. This is a fancy way of stating that you must be the author of the work and the work must be your own (not someone else’s work).


By accepting (clicking through) this license, you grant to the University the non-exclusive right to reproduce, translate (as described below), and distribute the submission, including the descriptive information (metadata) and abstract, in any format or medium worldwide and royalty-free, including, but not limited to, publication over the Internet, except as provided for by an addendum to this agreement.

This is a “click through” license or agreement. Thus, no further action is required of you to accept the agreement. Rather, by clicking through the agreement and clicking that you agree, you accept the agreement.

The agreement allows the University to have a “non-exclusive right” to do many things with your work. First, what is a “non-exclusive right”? It means that you retain your copyright and the University can in effect borrow your work to put it in the online journal as well as an online repository called IDEALS, and to “translate” the work to back it up (to make another machine-readable copy of the work in order to preserve it). 

In other words, the University will borrow your work and make copies of it and make it available to others. The fact that this is a non-exclusive license means that you are still free to publish your work elsewhere and that you still own the copyright over your work.