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Thursday, October 18 • 1:30pm - 2:15pm
Opening the Dissertation

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Opening the Dissertation: Educating Doctoral Students about CC Licensing their Thesis

Defending a dissertation is a signature moment in a scholarly career: it is the transition from apprentice to journeyman. For many graduate students, it represents the first major work that they place under a copyright regime and the basis for their first publications. And yet, few resources exist to guide first-time authors through the copyright process. Most universities guide students towards adopting a standard “All Rights Reserved” copyright license without critically considering alternatives. A tremendous opportunity exists to advance open scholarship by treating this signature event as a “teachable moment” to induct newly minted scholars into the community of advocates for open access and open education.

To advance this discussion, two young scholars from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Justin Reich and Dennis Tenen, have begun a book project to help guide young scholars through choices about copyright and the dissertation. Justin and Dennis were both the first doctoral students in their respective departments at Harvard to license their theses using Creative Commons, and they hope to help make the process easier for future students.

Opening the Dissertation: Why Publishing Your Dissertation under Creative Commons is Good for You and for the World will provide graduate students and their advisors with a concise, readable introduction to the landscape of copyright and publishing. It will present a compelling case for students to license their dissertation under a Creative Commons License and argue that such a decision will have positive consequences both for the writer and for the research community. It will address the critical questions and concerns that scholars face in regards to copyright: Will your work be cited less or more if the dissertation is available online, under the Creative Commons license? Will publishing your work openly make it easier for other to “steal” your ideas? How will a CC license affect opportunities for publishing? By thinking carefully about these questions, Opening the Dissertation will encourage young scholars to be advocates for open access and engagement in the open movement.

This session has three purposes. The first is to provide a brief introduction to the Opening the Dissertation project and give participants an opportunity to critique the project. The second purpose is to solicit contributions for the project: Opening the Dissertation will be an edited volume with both essays about the current state of dissertation publishing and case studies from recent doctoral graduates who have licensed their dissertation openly. Finally, the presenters will engage participants in a broad discussion about advancing the movement for open scholarship and access at the graduate level. We will foster a discussion about common obstacles to openly licensing and publishing theses, and the steps that we can take to induct new scholars and educators into the community of open activists. Ideas from this session will help to build a strategy for engaging doctoral students and advisors around the world about the critical issues of open access and the connection to the symbolic moment of submitting, and Opening, the dissertation.



Thursday October 18, 2012 1:30pm - 2:15pm PDT
C680 - HSBC Hall

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