West Virginia University Institutional Repository: Transforming Knowledge and Research

ETD Seminar

January 6, 2012

The West Virginia University Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Task Force, in conjunction with the Office of Graduate Education’s “Graduate Academy” workshop series is pleased to announce the following campus wide ETD seminar.

Monday, February 6, 2012
3:00 – 4:30 PM
NRCCE Building (Evansdale Campus), Room 101A-B

Open to all WVU graduate students, faculty and staff. Students who will be attending a college/school/department-level ETD seminar do not need to attend the campus-wide session.. Please register by sending an e-mail to GradEd@mail.wvu.edu or call (304) 293-7173.

About the

WVU Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Graduate Seminar

WVU has successfully required the electronic submission of all theses and dissertations since 1998. This seminar will provide an overview of the WVU ETD program and process, highlight the submission requirements, and include a demonstration of electronic file conversion to Adobe Acrobat PDF along with technical tips for success. The potential for inclusion of multimedia materials, development and promotion of graduate portfolios and discussion of intellectual property issues, new authoring spaces and online research venues will also be explored. This will be of great interest to graduate level students, faculty and staff.

Presenters:

JOHN HAGEN is the ETD Program Coordinator and Institutional Repository Manager for the University Libraries at WVU. He has been the technical reviewer for all thesis and dissertation submissions, and has provided counsel on intellectual property and submissions issues since 1989.

A representative from Training Services for the Office of Information Technology Customer Support at WVU will be available for technical questions and to announce technical support services and training opportunities available to WVU faculty, staff, and students.

Customized college/school/department-level ETD seminars may also be booked upon request. Please direct any comments, questions or requests to John Hagen at John.Hagen@mail.wvu.edu.





This news item discusses the basics for electronic thesis and dissertation submission at WVU and provides a great launching point to efficiently review the requirements.

For a quick overview of the WVU ETD submission process, start from the appropriate online submission checklist. There are links provided to the online deposit module, filing instructions as well as required forms (included in the “ETD Submission Packet”). For information about format requirements, simply follow the prescribed verbiage on the sample title and abstract pages provided as well as the dual pagination tips listed on page 4 of the submission packet. Otherwise, the University Libraries are very flexible and accommodating regarding the various style manuals in use on throughout the disciplines.

Students may complete online submission of the ETD file(s) and delivery of the forms and fee payment in either order. Additionally, the process may now be completed entirely electronically, including credit card payment. Forms and fee payment may be delivered in person, via postal mail or electronically. The “ETD Submission Packet” is an interactive PDF file in which you may type the information into the form fields and print (or save it if you have access to Adobe Acrobat standard or professional editions). Otherwise, you may print the forms, fill them in and scan them to send by email or fax to (304) 293-4881.

The WVU Office of Graduate Education recommends that students schedule the Oral Defense approximately one month in advance of the final ETD submission deadline date to allow sufficient time for the student to complete post-defense corrections, for committee members to complete final content review, and for the student to create the final PDF (and other approved files) and submit online for the format review at the University Libraries.

Please note that students planning to graduate for the spring 2012 semester will need to submit a PDF (or other approved file(s) online – this must be the post-defense version with corrections completed as requested by the faculty committee) no later than the deadline date of Friday, April 27th at 4pm. However, students should check with their department and college/school for earlier deadlines. Completed forms and fee(s) need to be delivered to the Wise Library by this deadline date as well. Submissions do not need to be approved by the deadline day; they merely need to be in the pending submissions queue. Submissions are generally reviewed within 24 hours of online deposit and often the same day of submission. All submissions received by the deadline day will be reviewed through the following week to clear everyone in time for graduation. If revisions are required, the submission will be “returned” to the student in the deposit system; editorial indications and instructions for online re-submission will be sent in an email notification to the student and committee. Upon completion of requested revisions and conversion to PDF, students simply upload the revised file to their existing online submission entry.

At the time of approval, email notification will be sent to the student, committee members and the college/school coordinator. Approved submissions are generally available within several hours of approval in the WVUScholar institutional repository.

Students who have questions about the format or submissions process or who need additional information may call, chat or make an appointment to discuss with ETD program coordinator John Hagen. Additionally, there is an online self-paced tutorial which provides an excellent overview of the process. The information on pricing and the Survey of Earned Doctorates needs to be updated, but the presentation does give an excellent overview of the process. For current pricing and procedures visit our ETD Submission Checklists.

For technical questions, students should contact WVU OIT consultants or check out their handy workshop handouts covering topics ranging from manipulating Microsoft Word to get your pagination sequence right to creating the final PDF file. All technical services are provided free of charge to WVU students.

Best wishes for your ETD journey at WVU and congratulations to all of our graduates!

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PHD Comics
PhD Comics - coffee




As we celebrate international open access week, the West Virginia University (WVU) Libraries remain at the forefront of global outreach in supporting research through the early adoption of digital library programs as well as sharing their knowledge and experience by providing assistance to schools interested in implementing electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) programs and digital repository development to enhance scholarly communications.

In preparation for ETD 2012, the 15th international symposium on electronic theses and dissertations to be held in Peru in September 2012, promoted by the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), a Peruvian national conference on digital theses and repositories was held last week in Lima, Peru, with over 125 participants attending from the region. WVU Libraries’ ETD program coordinator and NDLTD Board member, John H. Hagen attended the conference to provide several keynote presentations and to assist with promotions for the forthcoming international ETD symposium.

A follow up news story about the conference was published in “El Comercio”, one of Peru’s leading national newspapers, in an article titled “Encouraging digitization of knowledge in Peru”, by Bruno Ortiz (for El Comercio / Life & Future Column, Lima, Peru). Read the English translation of the article from the NDLTD news at http://www.ndltd.org/events_and_awards/encouraging-digitization-of-knowledge-in-peru. At the end of the article there are links provided to the original story in Spanish as well as other related news stories.

For more information about the NDLTD and ETD 2012, visit http://www.ndltd.org/.

oaweek_header
openaccessweek.org


Related News:

WVU libraries celebrate international open access (Daily Athenaeum Online) | ( pdf )

Editorial – WVU libraries offer online scholarly sources (Daily Athenaeum Online) | ( pdf )





The West Virginia University (WVU) Libraries remain at the forefront of global outreach in supporting research through the early adoption of digital library programs as well as sharing their knowledge and experience by providing assistance to schools interested in implementing electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) programs and digital repository development to enhance scholarly communications. WVU became the 2nd school in the world to require ETD submission of graduate students in 1998. Over the past 13 years, the WVU Libraries have hosted numerous library scholars from around the world who came to learn about WVU ETD and digital repository programs. The University Libraries have also participated in a variety of other international initiatives to promote open access to scholarly communications.

To put things in context, during summer 2011, the WVU ETD program reached a major milestone with over 5,000 ETDs in the collection since 1998. Presently WVU has over 7,000 graduate students enrolled. Each year, nearly 500 masters and doctoral students submit their ETDs to the wvuScholar institutional repository as part of their graduation requirement. Although a minority of students initially restricts access for publication or patent reasons, over 85% of the ETD collection is available as open access (free), distributed around the world via the Internet.

The University Libraries report that by going online with ETDs, access to WVU graduate research has increased by 145,000% over the former print copy distribution. Print copies of theses and dissertations tend to be overlooked – they sit on the shelves and collect dust, whereas their electronic counterparts are downloaded millions of times each year by researchers around the world. Because of the enhanced visibility and access to cutting edge research, ETDs greatly facilitate innovation and economic development through rapid technology transfer as well as social and cultural exchange. By working with developing regions to implement ETD programs, WVU is helping to transform and enrich economies and societies abroad. WVU also benefits by receiving reciprocal open access to the latest research from institutions around the world.

This October, John H. Hagen, ETD Program Coordinator and Institutional Repository Program Manager for the WVU Libraries will deliver several keynote presentations for the International Seminar on Electronic Theses and Repositories at the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences in Lima, Peru. The seminar will offer a series of activities related to digital libraries including a workshop on the “Greenstone” digital library collection distribution system, developed by UNESCO. Another workshop will focus on current data mining techniques and strategies. As part of the national Peruvian Symposium on Digital Theses and Repositories, Hagen’s keynote address will explore how academic institutions can provide support services for graduate students to improve the ETD writing process and facilitate greater student retention and graduation rates. In another keynote presentation, Hagen will discuss ETD program implementation issues; technical, political and intellectual property challenges and successes; as well provide an historical overview of the WVU Libraries’ legacy in the area of digital repository development and scholarly communications engagement with graduate students and faculty. Hagen will also assist with promotions for the international ETD 2012 Symposium, also to be held in Lima, Peru next September. Further information about the International Digital Thesis and Repository seminar series is available online at http://seminario.infotechworld.org/.

Mr. Hagen’s background includes providing leadership for ETD program implementation at WVU since 1996. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), an international non-profit consortium of thousands of universities worldwide since 1998. Each year he organizes the “ETDs for Rookies – Newcomer’s Session” for the international ETD symposia, which provides a tutorial for librarians, graduate school administrators and information technology specialists on a variety of perspectives about ETD implementation issues. Since 2004 he has served as Chair for the NDLTD ETD Awards Committee, which recognizes graduate students who have created outstanding innovative multimedia applications in their ETDs as well as acknowledges ETD leaders. Over the years, 10 WVU graduate students have won the “Innovative ETD Award” and one WVU alumna has won the “Innovative Learning through ETDs Award” for post-graduate research impact. In 2009 Hagen received the international NDLTD ETD Leadership Award at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2009 Hagen also served as Co-chair for the international ETD 2009 Conference, co-sponsored by the WVU Libraries and the University of Pittsburgh Libraries. Hagen was recently appointed Co-chair of the NDLTD International Conferences Committee, in which he will be responsible for soliciting hosts of future annual international ETD Symposia. The NDLTD is truly making a global impact in promoting open access to scholarly communications. This year, the ETD 2011 Symposium was held in Cape Town, South Africa in September. Forthcoming international ETD Symposia include ETD 2012 (Lima, Peru); ETD 2013 (Hong Kong) and ETD 2014 (Leicester, UK). Since 2010, Hagen has also served on the Board of Directors for the US ETD Association (USETDA) in which he is a founding member of the newly formed national non-profit organization.

As the institutional repository program has evolved, the WVU Libraries have also facilitated research promotion for undergraduate students as well as faculty. Since 2005 the WVU Honor’s College has required electronic honor’s thesis submission of undergraduate Honor’s students. Further, the University Libraries have begun to educate and engage faculty in open access scholarly communications by participating in open access publication programs, supporting the National Institute of Health’s mandate for open access to funded research and soliciting faculty to contribute their published works to the wvuScholar institutional repository as well. Presently the WVU Libraries are also working towards membership in the Association of Research Libraries, which will further enhance WVU’s research standing.

With the extensive experience and momentum towards global outreach and support, the WVU Libraries will continue to hold a prominent role in ETD and open access scholarly communications leadership endeavors for years to come. It’s a perfect fit with the 2020 strategic plan as WVU plays an increasingly expanded international role as a premier research institution. For more information about the WVU ETD program legacy visit http://thesis.wvu.edu/.




ETD Seminar

August 24, 2011

The West Virginia University Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Task Force, in conjunction with the Office of Graduate Education’s “Graduate Academy” workshop series is pleased to announce the following campus wide ETD seminar.

Monday, October 24, 2011
3:00 – 4:30 PM
NRCCE Building (Evansdale Campus), Room 101A-B

Open to all WVU graduate students, faculty and staff. Students who will be attending a college/school/department-level ETD seminar do not need to attend the campus-wide session.. Please register by sending an e-mail to GradEd@mail.wvu.edu or call (304) 293-7173.

About the

WVU Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Graduate Seminar

WVU has successfully required the electronic submission of all theses and dissertations since 1998. This seminar will provide an overview of the WVU ETD program and process, highlight the submission requirements, and include a demonstration of electronic file conversion to Adobe Acrobat PDF along with technical tips for success. The potential for inclusion of multimedia materials, development and promotion of graduate portfolios and discussion of intellectual property issues, new authoring spaces and online research venues will also be explored. This will be of great interest to graduate level students, faculty and staff.

Presenters:

JOHN HAGEN is the ETD Program Coordinator and Institutional Repository Manager for the University Libraries at WVU. He has been the technical reviewer for all thesis and dissertation submissions, and has provided counsel on intellectual property and submissions issues since 1989.

A representative from Training Services for the Office of Information Technology Customer Support at WVU will be available for technical questions and to announce technical support services and training opportunities available to WVU faculty, staff, and students.

Customized college/school/department-level ETD seminars may also be booked upon request. Please direct any comments, questions or requests to John Hagen at John.Hagen@mail.wvu.edu.





Tomislav Dimov, a 2010 doctor of musical arts graduate from the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts, Division of Music has been selected as one of three winners of the 2011 Innovative Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Award. Each winner receives a $500 cash prize and is eligible to receive an additional $500 in travel scholarship funding to attend the international ETD Symposium.

The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), an international consortium sponsors the annual awards program. The awards recognize students who have written exemplary electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) as well as leaders who have helped to promote ETD programs. Winners have demonstrated new dimensions of scholarship being explored by individuals who have made significant contributions to the worldwide ETD movement. The Innovative ETD Award category recognizes student efforts to transform the genre of the print dissertation through the use of innovative software to create cutting edge ETDs. Use of renderings, photos, video and other multimedia objects that are included in the electronic document were considered as part of the innovation of the work.

The awards will be presented at the ETD 2011 Symposium, to be held this year at The Pavilion Conference Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, September 13 – 17, 2011. For program details please visit the ETD 2011 Conference Website.

In his doctoral research project “Short Historical Overview and Comparison of the Pitch Width and Speed Rates of the Vibrato Used in Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach as Found in Recordings of Famous Violinists of the Twentieth and the Twenty-First Centuries”, Tomislav Dimov provides a very novel and innovative approach to musical performance studies. His research explores pitch width and speed rates of the vibrato violin solos by contemporary performers, utilizing tables and graphics for comparison, sorted by the year of recording, and followed by a discussion of the results.

Access to sound samples/files is available through a virtual CD linked to the document via the Internet. Tomislav’s doctoral research project files include PDF with music score interlinked to MP3 audio files, so the end user may simultaneously hear the audio result of the music score they are viewing on the page. This provides an interactive approach to the listener which allows for enhanced “visualization” of the music score by making it come to life as it was intended to be heard. Very few examples of this interactive approach exist in the field of music, thus Tomislav’s path breaking approach serves as an excellent model of enhanced learning experiences through multimedia integration into the research document.

Tomislav is working full time on the faculty of the Pelita Harapan University and serves as Head of the String Department and teacher of violin, Head of the Orchestra Department and Artistic Director and Conductor, and Head of the International and Domestic Relations for UPH Conservatory of Music in Indonesia.

The research and multimedia applications in Tomislav Dimov’s doctoral research project provide an exemplary model of scholarship in the digital era.

Source: http://www.ndltd.org/events_and_awards/awards/ndltd-etd-awards-2011-winners

tomislav_dimov2
Dr. Tomislav Dimov




Historically, compiling administrative reports on graduate student and faculty research/service productivity for graduation reporting, promotion and tenure as well as annual activity reports has been a tedious and cumbersome process when done manually. Thanks to the search applications in the wvuScholar institutional repository, faculty, staff and students can now easily retrieve listings to prepare administrative reports such as thesis and dissertation approvals, committee service work or theses and dissertations completed within a particular college/school or degree program/department.

Search instructions are provided below to assist in preparing administrative reports in wvuScholar.

  • Click on the “Advanced Search” tab (see screen shot example below)
  • Select collection “Electronic Theses and Dissertations”
  • Select Search in fields “Metadata Only”
  • Enter your search term in the applicable search box. Popular search terms for administrative tracking include the following discrete metadata fields:
    • College/School Name (see College/School listing below)
    • Department Name
    • Last_name, First_name (for faculty committee service)
    • Committee Chair
    • Committee Member
    • Date range by semester (i.e. use the pattern “Spring 2011”, “Summer 2011”, “Fall 2011”, etc.)
  • Search terms may be combined up to 3 levels to narrow results
  • Click the “Go” button

From the search results screen, to view linear row-wise listing, click the “Table view” tab on the upper right corner inside the blue bar.

Please note that the defense date and date approved are displayed in European style format (day/month/year). Example: the date displayed “07/06/2011” should be interpreted as “June 7, 2011”.

For specialized assistance on learning to search and prepare listings for administrative reports using wvuScholar, please contact John Hagen, Manager for Institutional Repository Programs at the WVU Libraries.


wvuScholar Advanced Search Screen

WVU Colleges & Schools as Listed in wvuScholar Repository

College of Business and Economics
College of Creative Arts
College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
College of Human Resources and Education
College of Physical Activity & Sport Sciences
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources & Design
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism
School of Dentistry
School of Medicine
School of Nursing
School of Pharmacy





An electrical engineering professor at Pontifical Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, visited the WVU Libraries this fall to glean insight into how best to advance her institution’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) program.

“It’s important for us to decide our next steps based on the experience that is successful. West Virginia’s experience is well-known and respected,” Pavani said.

Ana Pavani serves on the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) Board of Directors and has been instrumental in implementing the national Brazilian ETD program as well as the development of the Latin American ETD Consortium. At PUC, Pavani designed and managed the establishment of an institutional repository, which contains ETDs, senior projects, journals, books, articles, and courseware.

Pavani is interested in evolving the Brazilian national ETD program. During her visit, she sought advice from WVU Libraries faculty and staff regarding incorporating multimedia applications in ETDs as well as preservation methodologies.

“Adding multimedia to ETDs is very important in many areas,” Pavani said. “If you can add simulations or dimensional visualization, you give a lot of value to ETDs. It’s much easier for people to understand.”

WVU has been a pioneer in multimedia ETDs. Since 2004, the NDLTD has presented the Innovative ETD Award to nine WVU graduates for integrating their scholarly work with the latest technology applications.

Some have included video clips to allow others to experience the essence of their dramatic art presentations; others included animated simulation models, software code, and data sets so other scholars may follow in their footsteps using the same software and methodologies.

PUC’s role in Brazil is quite similar to WVU’s role here as a land grant university. Brazilians look to PUC for research to improve the health and daily lives of citizens, to help business and industry grow, and to protect the environment.

For example, since 2005, the public has electronically accessed more than 120,000 times a dissertation about mountaintop removal by West Virginia native Shirley Stewart Burns. Her research, later published with WVU Press, became fodder in the ongoing MTR debate and eventually led to changes in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy. In Brazil, engineers and technicians rely on ETDs to learn the latest research concerning oil and offshore drilling.
“We have no doubt that the ETD program is worth it. I believe you have the same passion,” Pavani told the audience during one of her presentations.

While at WVU, in addition to meeting with Libraries faculty and staff, Pavani also talked with WVU ETD/IR Task Force representatives, faculty from the Department of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, and representatives from the Center for Excellence in Disabilities. She also gave a presentation about her work on technology accessibility research projects for the blind and visually impaired at PUC.

Developments have included computer accessibility applications for the ETD repository, the library catalog, and online curriculum, as well as development of a wireless brain-machine interface to assist individuals with disabilities.
Her visit also included tours of the Downtown Campus Library and the West Virginia and Regional History Collection. She was most struck by the number of students in the library.

“Every place I went, there were students. They were either reading, or using the computers, or discussing in groups,” Pavani said. “I got the idea that the library is a laboratory of ideas and interaction of young people.”

Pavani is the fifth international visitor to come to campus to study the University’s ETD program. She was preceded by Yaqub Ali, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan, in 2008; Susan Copeland, Robert Gordon University, Scotland, in 2006; Drs. Sumant and Beena Goel, Digital Dissertation Foundation of India, 2005; and Simon Bevan, Cranfield University, England, 2004.

WVU became a pioneer in the field when it established its ETD program in 1998, having become the second institution in the world to require all master’s theses and doctoral dissertations to be submitted electronically and then posted on the Web according to the student’s directions. As of spring 2011, WVU’s ETD collection contains almost 5,000 research documents, including 3,000 theses and 2,000 dissertations.

Ex_Libris_Pavani_Hagen_Lowe_photo

Source: Ex Libris – WVU Libraries’ Newsletter, Spring 2011 | Archived pdf of this article

Authors: Monte Maxwell, John Hagen / WVU Libraries





April 3, 2011
The Road From Dissertation to Book Has a New Pothole: the Internet
Libraries’ digital open-access rules make some editors wary of buying graduate
students’ work, although others see a marketing boost

By Jennifer Howard
Ann R. Hawkins, a professor of English at Texas Tech University, likes the idea of sharing research, but she’s worried that sharing has gone too far when it comes to students’ dissertations. Not long ago, Ms. Hawkins heard from a junior scholar who wanted her to consider his revised dissertation for a series she edits for Pickering & Chatto, an academic press. She liked the idea—until she discovered his work was fully accessible on the Internet. Few would buy the specialized book, she worried, if much of its contents was already freely available.

“The problem I have is when anyone can either find the dissertation immediately on Google or by going to the university page and just clicking it and downloading it, whether they are in the United States or Taiwan,” Ms. Hawkins says. Unless he could limit access, she told the hopeful author, she wouldn’t consider it for the series.

That is not what any author wants to hear, but it’s especially alarming for scholars at the beginning of their publishing careers. With jobs scarce, the pressure to produce a monograph that enhances their credentials is intense in many humanities and social-sciences fields. But more institutions now require master’s and Ph.D. candidates to submit work in electronic form, and it appears that the rules could make publishing and job-hunting even harder, at least in some cases.

The digital push is being driven by an understandable desire to make scholarship, some of it supported by public money, easily available. And bits and bytes don’t take up shelf space in cramped libraries the way bound dissertations do. But several series editors and publishers echo Hawkins’s concerns. “If authors have an opt-out option, I would recommend that they do opt out, at least until their first book is published,” says Ann Donahue, a senior editor at Ashgate Publishing Group, which puts out a number of books that began life as dissertations. (There is a similar set of issues around journal articles.)

Others, though, take the opposite view: Digital dissertations stand a better chance of getting published because, if a work is viewed or downloaded many times, that can signal there’s a readership for it. It’s an issue “with more angles than a geometry textbook,” says Patrick Alexander, director of Penn State University Press, in an e-mail.

Staying Offline
Brandon D. Shuler, now a Ph.D. candidate in the program of literature, social justice, and environment at Texas Tech, had his own moment of authorial vertigo brought on by a requirement that he submit his graduate work digitally. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Texas Pan-American and just published a heavily revised version of his thesis, on the work of a Texas outdoorsman and writer, with a university press. Mr. Shuler thought he had successfully navigated Pan American’s thesis rules, which mandate using a digital repository but didn’t like the rules at many institutions – allow him to embargo his work for a limited period of time. He thought he had done that. “They can publish it automatically unless you go through this Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Brothers, three-ring circus of hoops,” he says. “Then my publisher calls me and asks me if I’d had my thesis electronically published.” His editor had stumbled on a copy of the work online and had jitters about its being readily available.

Mr. Shuler had to get in touch directly with ProQuest, the electronic publisher with which the vast majority of U.S. universities contract to house digital copies of dissertations, and get the company to restrict access. According to Mr. Shuler, the process took about a month. “I’m working on my Ph.D.,” he says. “I really didn’t have time to be doing all this, but obviously with a book coming out, I had to get it done.”

ProQuest says it follows each institution’s and author’s instructions about how much of the work to make available (full text or abstract only, for instance), and on what schedule (immediately available, embargoed for a period of time, etc.). “We are the university’s partner in dissemination,” says Austin McLean, the company’s director of scholarly communication and dissertations publishing. “We go by what the universities require. We have a highly customized embargo option for universities.”

At the University of Illinois, the ProQuest agreement is one of the few areas that graduate students have had problems with since the university put into effect its new digital-repository policy, says Rebecca Bryant, assistant dean of the graduate college. Illinois receives about 1,200 master’s and doctoral theses every year, she says, and no longer accepts paper copies. The digital documents are deposited in the university’s repository, known as Ideals, as well as with ProQuest, which means that the student must also sign ProQuest’s publishing agreement. “It’s confusing to students, quite frankly, that they are basically asked to enter into two publishing agreements,” Ms. Bryant says.

She adds that “there are still great benefits to using ProQuest’s having one’s work listed in the major professional databases, for instance.

At Illinois, the default option is that work will go open access after two years; students may request an extension, although requests for a permanent embargo have to go through a special petition process. Since 2009, according to Ms. Bryant, 63 percent of graduate students have opted to make their work open access, about 20 percent have chosen campus-only access, and about 17 percent have chosen to keep their work off-limits altogether for now.

Publishing Dilemma
In the United States and beyond, there’s a push for more coordination of practices and standards in this area. The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations has been working since the 1990s to promote “the adoption, creation, use, dissemination, and preservation of electronic theses and dissertations,” according to the group’s Web site. Statewide ETD (for electronic dissertations and theses) groups exist, and in May, the newly created U.S. Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association will hold its first conference.

Having clear standards and policies may help students understand and navigate their degree and graduation requirements, but it is not going to settle the question of whether ETD’s help or hurt their publishing chances. One publisher that views those chances as diminished by the digital availability of student work is Texas A&M University Press.

The press has become “much more reluctant to consider works based on dissertations than in the past,” says its director, Charles Backus. In an e-mail, he described his concern that online dissertations might cut into sales: The press has come to assume that “most libraries and library vendors will not buy or recommend purchase of ensuing books that are based substantially on them,” he wrote.

Ms. Donohue, of Ashgate Publishing, says she and her colleagues have similar concerns. The publisher does not yet have a firm policy in place regarding digital dissertations but has been thinking hard about the potential risks in recent months.

From Ms. Donohue’s perspective, work that’s behind a firewall of some sort doesn’t really pose a threat. “We’re really interested in the kind of open access where the dissertations turn up easily on a Google search,” she says.

Other scholarly publishers, however, see no need to worry. Jim McCoy, who directs the University of Iowa Press, which publishes a mix of fiction and nonfiction books, views open access as an opportunity. “Any dissertation that’s on the Internet and has taken on a life of its own, that would be a selling point to me,” Mr. McCoy says. “That would mean there’s a market out there for this material, and there could be an even greater market” for a revised, edited, well marketed version published by a scholarly press.

The novelist and short-story writer Sara Pritchard also has an optimistic view of open access and dissertations. In 2007 she was working as the marketing director for West Virginia University Press when it decided to publish Bringing Down the Mountains, by Shirley Stewart Burns. The book was based on her history Ph.D. dissertation on coal mining. The document was in the university’s repository, and a lot of people were looking at it. “We thought it was a good sign that her electronic dissertation was receiving so many hits (Shirley pointed this out to us) and that it boded well for sales of her book,” Ms. Pritchard said in an e-mail. “And her book has sold extremely well (used primarily as a textbook on mountaintop-removal coal mining—which is a big controversy).”

The creative-writing community, whose graduate students tend to be keenly focused on publishing, has had particular concerns about ETD’s. Ms. Pritchard’s own career offers evidence that putting creative work in a digital repository doesn’t necessarily get in the way of publishing it. She holds a master of fine arts degree from West Virginia and published a version of her M.F.A. thesis, a short-story collection, with Houghton Mifflin, just making sure to keep the thesis embargoed until the commercial book came out.

Mr. Alexander, the Penn State press director, says that for many presses, the decision becomes easier—and more likely to go the author’s way—when the proposed book differs significantly from the graduate-school version. “The more crucial question for us, especially in the case of a dissertation, is whether the author can explain the extent to which and how the submission differs from the original version,” he said via e-mail. A work written to satisfy a graduate committee should probably look very different from a book meant for a somewhat wider audience. That was true long before electronic repositories, and it holds true for dissertations in any format.

When scholars can show that they’ve reworked their projects with that in mind, Mr. Alexander expects that most university presses will remain open to considering their work. “The best advice I could give students … is to remember that books and dissertations are two distinct species,” he said.

Copyright 2011 The Chronicle of Higher Education


Link to this article in the Chronicle
Link to a pdf version of this article


Editor’s Note
At present, West Virginia University ETD policy allows masters of fine arts creative writing students to opt for an indefinite “campus access” restriction”. Creative writing faculty have indicated that it can take a decade or more for some students to publish their theses as a book, thus the case was made to allow this exception due to disciplinary publishing norms. Normally the “campus access” restriction defaults to open access after five years from date of graduation.

The University Libraries advocates unrestricted open access to ETDs whenever possible, if not now, eventually, as part of it’s mission to provide access to research as a publicly funded institution. Students may request to change their ETD distribution to open access at any time by simply sending an email request to the Libraries. We recommend that students try to strike a balance between restricting access to get published versus providing open access to gain notoriety. Students should research the policies of their prospective publishers and act accordingly. That is not to say one should act imprudently, however, one should also explore the potential opportunities. The examples of Sara Pritchard’s and Shirley Stewart Burns’ success with open access demonstrates that there are new possibilities for self-promotion in the online world.

In journal publishing world, this has been largely adopted into practice as a measure of success, known as “citation impact factor”—the number of times other researchers have cited one’s own research publication in other publications as well as relative prestige factor of the particular journals in which one has been cited. Of course, the book publishing market is a different, but there some definite correlations between popularity of an ETD (i.e. hit counts) and the economic value to a university press in estimating potential future sales, as Pritchard cited.

In reviewing WVU case studies I’ve done of various disciplines over the years, I’ve found that by far, granting open access to the ETD upon graduation has provided many more publishing and other career opportunities for our graduate student alumni. In fact, published library research studies have indicated over 80% of journal publishers have no problem with open access of the ETD.

The reality is that by graduation time, most students have either already published a chapter or more as journal articles, and they have received permission to include them in their ETD; or those who have not yet published, will require extensive revisions to revise and re-focus the thesis/dissertation chapter into the journal article format. Former University Press Director Pat Conner feels that even with book publishing, 99% of dissertation material requires extensive revisions before going to press—open access is welcomed as free advertising. Those who embrace open access often reap the benefits in this increasingly networked online world.

As we endeavor to increase human knowledge through providing open access to scholarly communications, my recommendations to our students concerning intellectual property issues are shaped by the voices of those very students and their faculty, as well as my own and others’ analyses and observations. I prefer to deal with reality over myth and fact over fiction. I agree with the final Chronicle statement, dissertations and books are different animals. Wouldn’t it be more productive if we spent more of our time and energy in promoting our students research and creative efforts rather than trying to banish them to obscurity?

John H. Hagen, Manager
WVU Institutional Repository Programs / Coordinator, ETD Program





Graduate student alumni from West Virginia University (WVU) continue to gain considerable notoriety by posting electronic versions of their master’s theses, problem reports and doctoral dissertations (ETDs) to the wvuScholar institutional repository. As the second school in the world to mandate ETD submission, WVU has been helping students provide global access to their research since 1998. Most of the WVU ETD collection (over 85%) is available as open access, free without charge. Many students who provide open access to their research experience increased citation impact factors between two and five times greater than students who initially restrict access. Citation impact factor is a measure of the number of times one’s research work (thesis, dissertation, published article, book, etc.) has been cited in other peer-reviewed scholarly communications.

The most accessed ETD at WVU in 2010 was a dissertation written by Quanzhong Gu in 2003, whose topic “Geological mapping of entry roof in mine” was downloaded 2,134 times last year. Dr. Gu’s research involved a geological approach to the study of mine safety issues and underground mining techniques to test and improve the stability of roof bolts in mine entry points. This technology has provided a feedback system for a roof bolter machine co-developed by West Virginia University which will improve mining processes and techniques in operations in West Virginia, nationally and around the world. Dr. Gu’s experience has demonstrated that ETDs can provide a much greater relevance and longevity to research topics over their printed counterparts, where interest typically decreases over the life of the document. Open access ETDs and citations linked to them are perpetually omnipresent in the online world.

The subject of mining in West Virginia has been a prevalent topic in the most popular WVU ETDs for the past several years. The most accessed ETD at WVU which has ranked in the “Top 10” since 2007 was a dissertation written by Shirley Stewart Burns whose topic “Bringing Down the Mountains: the Impact of Mountaintop Removal Surface Coal Mining on Southern West Virginia Communities, 1970-2004” was downloaded 1,552 times during 2010. Dr. Burns’ hot topic on Mountaintop Removal (MTR) spurred world-wide interest since 2005 when she graduated, and her dissertation has since received over 130,000 downloads to date. This led to the publication of her dissertation as a book with the WVU Press by the same title and a consulting job to help create the recent film documentary “Coal Country”. In 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they will no longer issue new MTR permits without careful scrutiny due to the extreme environmental and health hazards posed by industry practices. Dr. Burns’ experience has made a profound statement about the positive effects of providing open access to scholarly communications, which has led to a rapid rate of research discovery and resulting scientific, social and public policy impact.

Disciplines across the board at WVU are well represented in the 2010 “Top 100” report. You may view the full report online.

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