Colgate Senior Thesis Repository - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Senior Thesis Repository?

The Colgate University Libraries developed a Senior Thesis Repository (STR) to house a digital senior thesis collection within the university's institutional repository, Digital Commons @ Colgate. The program's objective is to make Colgate senior honors theses available online to the world. The collection is to be as comprehensive as possible. The Provost and Dean of Faculty encourages all seniors who produce a senior honors thesis to add their work to the STR.

The STR serves to showcase individually and collectively the intellectual research and work produced by the Colgate students. The repository also furthers academic endeavors worldwide by sharing of Colgate's collective intellect with all who use its resources.

What goes into the STR?

Ideally, the complete record of a senior honors thesis that has been accepted by Colgate University will be archived in the STR. A complete record includes a full citation and abstract of the work, the honors thesis itself, and any supplemental content, such as data, video, audio or image files.

While a complete record is most desired, there are several participation levels. The different options for participation include:

  1. Thesis and full citation and abstract, all publicly accessible
  2. Thesis restricted to Colgate login, full citation and abstract publicly accessible
  3. Thesis content hidden and not viewable by anyone, full citation and abstract publicly accessible
  4. Full citation and abstract only, no thesis submitted

Additionally, there is an option to embargo access for different periods of time.

What is the difference between restricted access and embargoed access?

Restricted access means that access to the full text of a thesis is limited to individuals using Colgate University network credentials (email). For restricted works, anyone can access the full citation and abstract, but only individuals with Colgate credentials can access the thesis. Any supplementary files would be publicly available. Restricted access status is determined by the thesis writers and their advisors.

Embargoed access means that access to the full text of a thesis is prohibited for everyone for a fixed amount of time after a thesis is added to the repository. Any supplementary files would be publicly available. The ranges of time a work can be embargoed are 6 months, 1, 2, 3 and 5 years. Both unrestricted and restricted access can be embargoed. Use and duration of embargo is determined by thesis writers and their advisors.

How do senior honors theses get added to the STR?

Each department/program determines its own process and timeline leading up to submission of the honors thesis to the repository. Early and full communication between the student and faculty advisor(s) is highly encouraged.

In general, the workflow for including content in the repository is as follows:

  • The student submits their electronic thesis and signed paper permissions form to their faculty advisor for consideration.
  • The faculty advisor approves the thesis and any restrictions or embargo period and transfers it to the department/program representative to the Libraries (normally the Administrative Assistant).
  • The department/program representative scans the permission form and uploads the thesis and permissions form directly into Digital Commons (see Upload FAQ for detailed instructions). The scanned permission form is emailed to the faculty advisor(s) and the student author for their records. The paper forms are collected and sent to the University Archives.
  • A Cataloging and Metadata Services staff member reviews the metadata for quality control purposes and verifies that the files were uploaded correctly. The staff member then approves the thesis for publication on Digital Commons and updates the site. In general, this part of the process should take no more than two weeks.

Who can find and read theses contained in the STR?

Works in the STR that are made public are subject to indexing and discovery through the internet via search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. As such, works can be found and read by anyone with an internet connection.

If access has been restricted to members of the Colgate community, only persons with Colgate credentials can access the actual thesis. Citation and abstract information remain available to all.

If the content of the thesis has been hidden from view or embargoed, only staff members maintaining the site can access the thesis. This would preserve the content as an academic record, but not allow anyone to view it. Either the student author or the faculty advisor would indicate the need for this.

If the thesis has an embargo placed on it, the content cannot be read by anyone for the specified period of time. Citation and abstract information remain available to all. After the embargo period expires, the content will be freely available, restricted to Colgate, or hidden, depending on the choice made when it was added to the STR. Possible reasons for implementing an embargo are protection of data tied to a future faculty publication and time-based privacy issues.

NOTE: Citation information, abstracts, and supplementary files are always publicly available, regardless of embargo or restriction.

What liabilities need to be considered regarding accessible theses in the STR?

High visibility is cause for careful consideration regarding the content and nature of published theses. Some specific considerations might include:

  • Does the thesis contain content that is copyrighted by someone other than the thesis author? If so, have permissions for use been obtained?
  • If required, has the work of the thesis been approved by an Institutional Review Board?
  • Are data and/or content in the thesis free of restrictions exclusive of copyright?
  • Does the thesis contain sensitive confidential identifying or personal information?
These and similar sensitive matters should be considered in determining parameters for making a thesis available.