The Benefits and Issues of Electronic Theses and Dissertations: The University of Waterloo Approach
This article discusses the advantages and challenges of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), exploring the University of Waterloo's approach. Benefits of ETDs include remote access, searchable metadata, multimedia options, and wider exposure, while issues include copyright concerns and acceptance within academia.
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1. Electronic Theses and Dissertations: Benefits, Issues, and the University of Waterloo Approach http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/ETD/ Christine Jewell Librarian and Chair of the UW E-thesis Project Team firstname.lastname@example.org May 2002
2. Benefits of ETDs Electronic Theses and Dissertations Researchers Remote access Searchable metadata and full text. Student/Authors Save photocopy and binding costs Multimedia allow wider range of expression Remote submission Research receives greater exposure.
3. Benefits of ETDs Librarians Provide increased access to research Save shelf space. Graduate Studies Speed up checking of submissions Reduce moving and handling of paper.
4. Issues Submission What formats should be accepted? Access & Distribution How will the ETD be provided and delivered? Storage & Preservation What is an acceptable ETD lifespan? Intellectual Property Is plagiarism facilitated? Publishers may refuse articles based on a thesis that is freely available on the Web.
5. Submission Issues What formats should be accepted? Students create theses with a variety of wordprocessing programs, but the graduate and the library cannot support all varieties. PDF is suitable for display, but the package is not free, it might include aspects that cannot be checked in the graduate office or preserved on fiche, and the reader is proprietary, hence is a concern for future access.
6. Electronic Submission at UW A thesis must be submitted in a single Postscript file A PostScript file results when a document is printed to file rather than paper; it contains nothing more nothing less than what would appear if it were printed to paper. It can be checked with procedures analogous to checking a paper thesis. Students wishing to submit a thesis with hyperlinks or multimedia can submit an enhanced thesis. The primary PostScript submission can be supplemented with an author created PDF version (an enhanced thesis) that may include hyperlinks and multi-media as appendices.
7. Access & Distribution Issues How will the ETD be provided and delivered? Should the ETDs be mounted on the Web? What format should be used for delivery? Can we make a link in the catalogue? Should we maintain a local database or rely on UMI for distribution?
8. Access & Distribution at UW ETDs are publicly accessible on the Web in PDF The Graduate Office converts the PostScript submission to PDF The Library installs the PDF in a local database. Metadata submitted by the author make up the searchable portion of the database The metadata record includes a link to the full text of the thesis in PDF The library catalogue also links to the thesis The PhD theses can also be purchased from UMI. They are included in Dissertation Abstracts International, UMIs index to theses and dissertations.
9. Storage & Preservation Issues What is an acceptable ETD lifespan? Digital preservation may not be feasible at a local level Should we accept theses that contain components that cannot be captured on fiche? Should we take advantage of multimedia even if long term preservation is problematic?
10. Storage & Preservation at UW The PDF version is backed up on a local server The purpose is to maintain an access copy rather than support an electronic archive Supplementary enhanced theses with multimedia files are backed up locally but are not treated to preservation procedures or submitted to UMI. The PostScript is also backed up on a local server PostScript is an established format, unlikely to become obsolete; as a last resort it can easily be converted to TIFF, a format that any image reader can access. The content of a PostScript file can be preserved on fiche It is converted to PDF then sent to UMI where it is filmed and preserved in the NLC fiche archive.
11. Intellectual Property Issues Placing theses on the Web may provide plagiarizing students with a convenient supply. Do libraries have an obligation to discourage plagiarism by limiting access? Some publishers have objected to ETDs that are free on the Web, arguing that they are a form of prior publication. Yet many publishers agree that a publishable article is substantially different from a thesis and cannot be considered prior publication of the article.
12. Intellectual Property at UW Plagiarism It may be facilitated when material is freely available on the Web, but the Web also facilitates detection Adobe software has a function to disable copying, editing, or printing. At UW we have experimented with this function, but have decided not to implement it. Publisher policies We advise authors to investigate the policies of publishers in their field before they take the electronic submission option If we move to mandatory electronic submission, we will likely allow students to restrict their theses to the UW domain.
13. Sources of Information on the UW Project UW Electronic Thesis Project homepage http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/ETD/index.html University of Waterloo ETD Flowchart http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/ETD/flowchart/ Submitting Your Thesis Online: Course Notes http://www.ist.uwaterloo.ca/ew/ethesis/ethesis.html Graduate Studies: Electronic Thesis Submissions http://www.grad.uwaterloo.ca/General_info/Thesis_Regs/EThesis/index.html