Content Collection Policy

The following describes the characteristics of content appropriate for submission to eCommons. See also the eCommons web accessibility policy.

Cornell University Library reserves the right to refuse for deposit content that is libelous, an invasion of privacy, or that does not reflect the nature of the Collection to which the work was submitted. In the case of collections with designated coordinators, the coordinator has the right to accept or reject submissions to the collection. See eCommons Communities and Collections for more information.


Content deposited in eCommons reflects the intellectual output of Cornell faculty, researchers, staff, and students. It is educational or research-oriented in nature. Examples of appropriate content include:

  • pre- and post-publication papers
  • technical reports
  • theses and dissertations
  • books
  • lectures and presentations
  • datasets

Content of archival value produced or sponsored by administrative offices, academic units, and student groups may also be appropriate for deposit in eCommons. Examples of such content include:

  • digital departmental newsletters
  • administrative reports
  • compilations of University data
  • meeting agendas and minutes

Content produced by others but of research and/or teaching value may also be appropriate for eCommons. Such material is normally solicited, collected, or identified by Cornell faculty, researchers, staff, and students, who then arrange all necessary clearances needed to deposit the material (see Deposit Policy & License). Examples of such content include:

  • datasets
  • electronic books and multimedia
  • presentations given at Cornell events
  • digitized research materials


eCommons can accept many electronic file formats. Certain formats, however, such as plain text, XML, and PDF/A, are recommended because the likelihood of their full preservation in the future is much higher (see Preservation Support Policy, and Recommended File Formats for eCommons).


Individual files deposited in eCommons should not exceed 5 GB in size. Note that most web browsers have a file size upload limit, which may be less than 5GB. Growth in the total size of a collection of files associated with a research project and deposited into eCommons normally should not exceed 50 GB per year. If you have questions about these size limitations, please contact the eCommons Administrator.

Confidential information

Submitting work to eCommons requires you to attest that the work contains no confidential or proprietary information. Confidential information includes data that can uniquely identify someone, such as a Social Security number, credit card number, or driver's license number. Proprietary information is information, such as patentable information, that is owned, or may be owned, by someone else.

Ownership/Intellectual Property

The author/owner of content deposited in eCommons must be willing and able to grant Cornell University the right to preserve and distribute the work via eCommons (see Deposit Policy & License).

Student works in eCommons

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 protects the privacy rights of students. It requires that "educational records" be released only with a student's signed consent. With respect to eCommons, we require that all undergraduate student work submitted to eCommons, such as a term paper or honors' thesis, have a signed release form. Such forms are typically created, administered, and maintained by the student's department, but digital versions of signed releases can also be stored in eCommons (out of public view). For more information on managing student works in eCommons, please contact the eCommons Administrator.

For more information, see Cornell University policy 4.5, Access to student information.  

University records in eCommons

Per Cornell University Policy 4.7 (Retention of University Records), a university record is:

Any form of recorded information, regardless of physical characteristics, that is created, received, recorded, or legally filed in the course of university or WCMC business or in the university's or WCMC’s legal obligations. University records serve as evidence of the university's organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, transactions, or other activities.

All content deposited to eCommons must conform to eCommons content policy, and records of the types listed in the university policy typically are not appropriate for deposit to eCommons.

Cornell community members and university units may deposit records such as publications, publication lists, reports, outreach materials, educational materials and learning objects, selected student works (with appropriate release forms), and other materials in eCommons, in order to provide public access to them. However, eCommons is not an archival repository of record, and depositing content to eCommons does not meet any records management or retention requirements that might apply. For material subject to such requirements, individuals and units are encouraged to contact the Library's University Records manager, Eileen Keating (eek2). In addition, eCommons staff cooperate with University Archives staff by sharing information on eCommons submissions, in order to identify records that should also be submitted to the University's Digital Archivist.

Performance Releases

To ensure best practices in privacy and appropriate consent, eCommons strongly encourages use of a performance release for any individuals, Cornell-affiliated or otherwise, who appear in audio visual materials. To assist users, we have created a form that may be used to obtain appropriate consent. Submitters can work with the eCommons team to include such forms in the license bundle of their submission (so that they remain "attached" to the record but not visible to users).