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Theses, Dissertations, and Creative Components: Rights and Responsibilities

Important things for students to know when completing their thesis, dissertation, or creative component.

You are the copyright holder.

As soon as you create your own original work, you own the copyright to it.

This is automatic and does not require anything extra from you.

After your work has been sent to ProQuest, you are still the copyright holder.

More information about copyright and your work can be found in the video below, from the University of Illinois:

The Digital Repository and your copyright

When you finish your work, a copy will be kept at The Iowa State University Digital Repository (ISU DR). The DR is open access and free for anyone in the world to see, allowing your work to reach a wider audience.

  1. Does contributing material to the Iowa State University Digital Repository affect the copyright of my work? No. We will never ask you to transfer your copyright to us to deposit your work in the DR. 
  2. Questions about the DR? Please contact the Digital Repository at
  3. Want to share more research in the DR? We want the world to be able to access, read, and cite your research! For more information about how the DR works, see the information below.

Proquest and your copyright

In addition to depositing your work in the ISU Digital Repository, a copy of your thesis will also be added to ProQuest's Dissertations and Theses database. Unlike, the DR, ProQuest's database is paid for by subscription and will be accessible only to those with log in information. If you have questions about copyright related to ProQuest, please see the PDF, Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis below. Still have questions? Contact the Graduate College at

Registering for copyright

Copyright is immediate upon the creation of a work. In other words, the moment that you create something, you have complete control over the copyright of your work. However, if you would like to have a more official record of your copyright ownership, you may choose to register your copyright. The Graduate College suggests this option if you plan on using your work to:

  • file a patent
  • write a book
  • publish articles
  • or, your major professor recommends it.

For questions about copyright related to your thesis or dissertation, please contact the Graduate College.

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Abbey Elder
150 Parks Library
Iowa State University