institution has articulated a set of processes (including the documentation of
approvals) and standards specifically for ETDs.2 At a few schools we are
seeing elements of an ETD program being approached at a system or
consortial, rather than institutional, level.
Brief History of ETD Development
Beginning in the early 1990s, the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI)
has been active in the ETD movement. Working with Virginia Tech, University
Microfilms (now Proquest/UMI Dissertation Publishing, a unit of Gale
Cengage Learning), and the Council of Graduate Schools, CNI co-hosted one
of the first ETD conferences in 1993 in order to explore the potential of
electronic theses and dissertations as new forms of scholarly communication
and as drivers for the development of digital libraries. Digital theses and
dissertations offered pragmatic examples that could help advance work on the
architectures, standards, access, and preservation issues in digital libraries. In
addition, ETDs provided a potential opportunity for broader culture change
by introducing faculty and graduate students (future faculty) to authoring,
design, and reviewing issues in innovative scholarly content that employed
images, sound, datasets and databases, interactive software components, and
other enrichments to traditional, primarily linear text. Since that time, work
has been ongoing within the ETD community at both an institutional and
cross-institutional level to develop tools, standards, best practices, and
instructional and support strategies.
In parallel, Proquest/UMI Dissertation Publishing, which has been in the
business of distribution of microfilm and print copies of dissertations since
1938, has evolved its services to keep pace with the developments in digital
libraries and access to content on the Internet. Proquest will ingest electronic
theses and dissertations directly from authors or will provide a service to
digitize print dissertations. They continue to make copies available, by fee or
subscription, to individuals and institutions, and also provide authors an
option to pay for open access publishing, which enables any user to have free
access to the content. In addition, they provide preservation microfilming
services and offer digital preservation; they serve as the Library of Congress’s
official offsite repository for digital dissertations. Many institutions use
Proquest as part of their ETD digital-archiving strategy; some continue to use
Proquest as the primary platform for their ETD programs.
RLI 270
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ETDs and Graduate Education: Programs and Prospects
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C O N T I N U E D
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JUNE 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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