CC Licensing for Dissertations?

Hello OEGlobal community!

I could use some guidance and advice on going about CC licensing my dissertation (or if that’s even possible?).

I am working on my dissertation about the lived experience of those who create and use OER in their instruction in US-based higher education. I have seen some dissertations accessible via targeted searches on OER (or the like), but was wondering if someone has advice on how to go about Creative Commons licensing a dissertation?

I am planning on submitting to an open journal (e.g. IRRODL) in the truncated version after the dissertation is completed, but I would really like to have the full text accessible for others. Does anyone have some guidance on this? I would love to hear your take.


Any response to something like almost always calls for a IANAL disclaimer :wink: But seriously, you are the author of this work, and as such, you can apply any license you wish.

I found a 2009 post by Jane Park on the Creative Commons site discussing this question

A number of prominent educators like @dajbelshaw who also wrote his in the open have openly published their thesis- Doug’s is under CC0

See also Catherine Cronin’s dissertation licensed CC BY-NC-ND

If you are asking for license advice, some might lean CC BY, but maybe even more might go CC BY-ND? It’s really your preference that factors in to how you want it shared.

I hope some more folks weigh in, because it’s a good question (and thanks for opening it up here). Has this been discussed around the GO-GN circles??


Thank you for this information (and that IANAL disclaimer)! I have reached out to my institution to better understand the dissertation submission and housing process and how that may or may not affect the copyright dedication. Liberty University is an open-access repository of dissertations, but my concern is more about how others can share and distribute to challenge the ideas and research. The major goal would be easy, searchable access for others to find, read, challenge, and advance.

As reference material, my instinct tells me to go Catherine’s route of CC BY-NC-ND as the proper application. I will be thinking about this further to try to make the correct decision. I also found that article from Jane Park and was hoping there would be more current examples from others since that 2009 publish date. Of course, I was only able to find bits and pieces.

I will update this thread when I find some more information and what I end up licensing for my dissertation.

Thanks again!

In clarifying with my institution, I will be able to CC license my dissertation! I will CC BY-ND-NC license it for the sake of retaining my original research, while making the research itself available for others. I am also hoping to submit a truncated version to an open journal for a more consumable read (compared to the very hefty read of a dissertation). I will be happy to post it here to OEGlobal and invite critiques, inputs, and how this research can further the discussion around OER and OEP.

Hi All-

I’m excited to say that I have published my dissertation under a CC license and it is now available! See the link below for the direct link to my dissertation in Liberty University’s (Virginia, USA) dissertation repository.

If you have questions or comments, please send an email to Looking forward to discussion!


Wanstrath OER/OEP Dissertation Link

Congratulations on publishing your dissertation, Alex. I do hope folks take a look at for more than the CC license :wink:

Sharing from the link:

A Phenomenological Study of the Lived Experience of Creator-Practitioners of Open Educational Resources and Practices in the United States

The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to describe the lived experience of creator-practitioners of open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) in United States (U.S.) higher education institutions. The theory guiding this study is Vygotsky and Bruner’s constructivist theories, as they describe both the cognitive and social aspects of content creation. Eleven current instructors from colleges and universities across the U.S. participated in this study. These participants had used OER for at least one academic term, were current instructors at their institution, created their own OER, and engaged in OEP in at least one of their courses. This study followed a hermeneutical phenomenological research design, collecting qualitative data through journal entries, artifact analysis, and semi-structured interviews. The journal entries and semi-structured interviews were analyzed through van Manen’s (2014) data analysis framework and the artifacts were analyzed through Cox and Trotter’s (2017) OER Adoption Pyramid. The three themes that were revealed were the participants’ desires for (a) improvement of the student experience, (b) improvement of the creator-practitioner’s craft, and (c) community and contributions. The findings of this study include the alignment and emphasis of the learner-centered approach that creator-practitioners implement, the paradigm shift of power and control pertaining to the roles of instructors and learners, and the importance of cooperation between creator-practitioners and other stakeholders.

Can you say more about your significant findings?