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2.13 / Thesis and Dissertation Sequestration

To establish procedures regarding the sequestration of graduate theses and dissertations that contain descriptions of proprietary information or intellectual property (hereinafter, "intellectual property"), which if made available to the public, may jeopardize the ability of the owners of the intellectual property to obtain a patent.

A thesis or dissertation project may result in the development of intellectual property, and it may be necessary for the sake of completeness to include information about the discovery in the written document that is presented to the Graduate School in partial fulfillment of degree requirements. The faculty advisor, the student and/or the University may have, consistent with University policy, an interest in pursuing a patent for such intellectual property, and the usual practice of making the thesis or dissertation available to the public could jeopardize the ability to obtain a patent.

Policy Statement:
Upon written request by a faculty thesis or dissertation advisor, a graduate student who is the author of a thesis or dissertation, or the University Patent Officer, the Dean of the Graduate School may, after giving consideration to the respective interests of all concerned, sequester the academic document in question; i.e., prohibit public disclosure, for a period of one year from the date of the decision to sequester. In reviewing such requests, the Dean should consider the full implication of sequestration on ongoing and future academic and scholarly work at the University.

If a decision is made to sequester a thesis or dissertation, all components of the sequestered thesis or dissertation, including all digital and mediated materials, will be maintained in the office of the Dean of the Graduate School to assure that such components are not separated. The Dean of the Graduate School will inform the Dean of University Libraries of all sequestration decisions made relative to this policy and will provide pertinent information concerning a thesis or dissertation to be sequestered, such as title, student name and graduation date, department, and thesis or dissertation director's name to the Dean of University Libraries.

At the end of the one year period, the Dean of the Graduate School will initiate a review of the sequestered thesis or dissertation with the appropriate individuals and determine whether it is reasonable and proper to continue the sequestration for a second year. Continued withholding of the thesis or dissertation beyond the second year will be considered only in special and very unusual circumstances. The completion of the requirements for a graduate degree will not be affected in any way by the sequestration of a thesis or dissertation.

Pursuant to the University patent policy, it is the responsibility of the faculty advisor and the student to protect the intellectual property during the conduct of the project and the writing of the document, and in any examinations over the contents of the document. The faculty advisor and the student should consult with the Dean of the Graduate School and the University Patent Officer about these matters.

This policy will be disseminated to faculty through campus mail.

Revision Date:
May 1, 2001

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