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Master's Thesis & Capstone Project Guide: Intellectual Property

This provides general guidance for authors of master's theses and creative project reports prepared while at at Dominican University of California. Please read the guidelines carefully and consult with your thesis advisor and the Library.

Copyright Permissions

If you are using materials or reproductions in your work that are copyright protected, you are responsible for either obtaining permission to reuse the materials or documenting each item making your case for Fair Use.   If your thesis utilizes a number of copyrighted materials, or if your thesis contains a mixture of your own images and copyrighted images, it is recommended that you create a list, separate from your thesis, which outlines the source of each image and whether or not permission is needed/included/pending or that includes your case for Fair Use.

Examples of copyrighted material may include any images that are not your own – tables, figures, graphs, photographs, maps – as well as extensive portions of text, such as the reproduction of journal articles.

Permission may need to be sought from the author, publisher, or repository (i.e., museum or archive) depending on who owns the copyright. It's recommended that you speak with the administrator of Dominican Scholar, or another librarian, if you are unsure about the copyright of materials used in your thesis.

Program Specific Thesis Policies Regarding Intellectual Property

Several of Dominican's graduate programs work with outside agencies with Dominican's students writing their theses based on the intellectual property of those agencies.  Dominican  respects the intellectual property of those agencies and works with them so that those students can still publish their work on Dominican Scholar and not divulge intellectual property or data before it is released.


Embargo - a period of time during which a document is not publicly accessible. Although the document may not be accessed, the document's metadata will be publicly visible. Embargo periods can last from 1 - 3 years.

Thesis metadata - Thesis metadata is information about the thesis. Thesis metadata includes:

  • Thesis title
  • Author name
  • Graduation date
  • Degree and program information
  • Names of the student's thesis advisor, thesis readers, and department or program chair
  • Abstract
  • Author comments (optional)
  • Additional files (optional)

Biological Sciences

Thesis Embargoes

The Biological Science students' theses are based on research done with a thesis advisor, who will eventually publish their work. Because theses may contain data that the advisor is not prepared to publish, Biological Science students are required to place, at minimum, a 1 year embargo on their theses when deposited in Dominican Scholar. 

When the embargo period is ending, the University's Scholarly Communications Librarian will notify the thesis author(s) via email.

Thesis Abstracts and Metadata

Abstracts appearing in Dominican Scholar should be cleared by the student's thesis advisor to be sure that the abstract does not contain unpublished data.  In lieu of an abstract, the student may instead include a line stating "Thesis abstract unavailable until thesis is removed from embargo."

When a thesis is removed from embargo, the thesis' abstract will be added to the visible thesis metadata by the University's Scholarly Communications Librarian.

Clinical Lab Sciences Students

The Clinical Lab Sciences (CLS) students write their theses based on work done at an outside agency. Because their projects may contain proprietary information from that agency, each student must return a completed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (see below) to the University's Scholarly Communications Librarian when they deposit their capstone project to Dominican Scholar.

A signed copy of the MOU should be distributed to each of the following:

  1. The student
  2. Agency representative
  3. The CLS Program Administrator
  4. The University's Scholarly Communications Librarian

The MOU gives the agency discretion on the accessibility level of the thesis:

  1. The thesis may be publicly accessible
  2. The embargo requires and embargo
  3. The thesis should never be accessible

Even if the thesis is not accessible to the public, the thesis metadata will be visible.

MFA in Creative Writing

Creative works are afforded greater protection under copyright more than factual work and creative writing graduate students often enter writing programs with the express purpose to publish their work. Taking this into account, full-text theses from the Creative Writing MFA  program deposited into Dominican Scholar will automatically be inaccessible to the public. Like a thesis under embargo, the thesis metadata will still be viewable.

Students who wish to have their thesis made publicly accessible upon deposit into Dominican Scholar can make the request to the University's Scholarly Communications Librarian.  Students also have the option to have their thesis under embargo up to 3 years.

Creative Commons License

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