Answered By: Harry L. Whitlock II
Last Updated: Jun 27, 2017     Views: 61

In general an embargo in academic publishing is an event where "A publisher may occasionally suppress the availability of its full text articles in online databases until the peak time for publication print sales has passed." (1)  In other words, the article is not available to people or institutions without a subscription.

Another form of embargo is when the author withholds availability of an article for various scholarly or legal reasons.

The impact to patrons of the UW Libraries when an embargo occurs varies. Often through the use of interlibrary loan (ILL), UW patrons can obtain a copy of the article in a reasonably short amount of time from another library that has a subscription to a specific journal. However, if there are very few libraries with a subscription to that journal, or if the publisher has placed additional restrictions on the work, it may not be available at all.

Within the academic databases that UW subscribes to, an embargoed article may be listed in search results. Look for labels that read "Citation Only." This often indicates that the article is not available, but search for other listings of that article in the search results. Look for a label that reads "Full-Text," which means the article is available.

This open-access article from Slate magazine is a good lay explanation of embargoes.


(1) "What are Publication Embargoes." EBSCO Publishing, May 2014. Accessed 16 Nov. 2015.


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