respondents. Most institutions reported that the library, not the faculty or
academic administration, took the lead in developing electronic thesis and
dissertation (ETD) programs at their institution, although in many institutions
it was a collaborative initiative, often also involving the graduate school
administration. This in itself suggests that grassroots demand for the greater
authoring flexibility of the digital media arising from graduate students and
their faculty dissertation committees has not played an overwhelming role in
advancing ETD adoption. In 43% of the institutions, the ETD program was
mandatory for both doctoral and masters students, an additional 10% stated
that submission of an ETD was mandatory only for doctoral students, and
around 14% stated that it was mandatory only for students of specific colleges
or departments.
ETD Repositories
An essential library contribution to the implementation of ETD programs has
been the provision of repository services that can store, provide access to, and
preserve electronic theses and dissertations. This can be done through locally
developed systems, through consortially developed systems, or through
agreements with commercial firms. Around 89% of institutions reported that
ETDs were a part of their institutional or consortial repository holdings. Many
libraries consider that the institutional repository serves both as the basis of
the access strategy and at least a component of the preservation strategy for
theses and dissertations. In our survey, institutions could chose multiple
answers for how they manage preservation of ETDs: 69% reported that they
preserve them in an institutional or consortial repository, 47% replied that
they relied on Proquest to preserve a digital copy, and 5% reported using
LOCKSS. Clearly, some institutions are using multiple strategies for
preservation.
As open access content in repositories, ETDs are indexed by major search
engines and thus readily discovered via Web searches (as well as more
specialized catalogs); the full text is available worldwide without fee. Some
institutions implementing ETD programs have reported massive levels of use
(thousands, or even tens of thousands of downloads) from around the globe.
In the past, printed dissertations and theses had more restricted visibility and
accessibility, via interlibrary loan (other than theses and dissertations in one’s
home institution) and via commercial services, notably Proquest.
RLI 270
9
ETDs and Graduate Education: Programs and Prospects
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C O N T I N U E D
)
JUNE 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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