Throwback Thursday: You find your thesis is for sale, via Google. Is this a big deal?

This post by Shari Hearne (Associate University Librarian, Digital Information Services) first appeared here on Thesislink in 2012

A ‘cautionary tale’ of a person unexpectedly finding his thesis was for sale while searching Google appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education on 25 July, 2012.

“A Google search brought me to a link to, where with one click I soon discovered that my dissertation was being sold. It took a minute of staring at the computer screen to fully accept that my work could be purchased … as an eTextbook for the Nook reader. I thought the price was a steal. Literally … I felt violated that my work could be sold without my knowledge, confused as to how this could happen without my consent.”

How did this happen? It’s a bit of a complex story, but when his dissertation was submitted to a well known dissertations and theses database – which users have to pay to access – he did not note that he was agreeing to “an option for third-party selling”.

Interestingly, though clearly he found this sale of his work with no payment of royalties to himself reprehensible, the comments on the post were not all in agreement with his view and some found it “no big deal”.

So – was it a big deal, or not? Is it important or not to keep track of what happens to your work after you’ve submitted your thesis or dissertation?

At AUT, theses and dissertations are required to be submitted to our open access research repository Scholarly Commons. The Library manages the research repository on behalf of AUT. However we do not require authors to sign away their rights – authors continue to control the copyright of their thesis or dissertation.  We do not “on-sell” these works to database vendors – we do not have that right.

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