Emory Report
March 17, 2008
Volume 60, Number 23

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March 17, 2008
Scholarship goes online with electronic theses program

By Lea McLees

Emory is tapping into a national trend that has been gaining momentum among top research universities with the creation of a university-wide repository of student research. Beginning in fall 2008, all graduate students will submit their doctoral dissertations and master’s theses in electronic form for the University’s Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) database. Undergraduates completing honors theses will contribute to the online, searchable repository beginning in 2009.

“Theses and dissertations are among the most important intellectual works of the University. Sharing them can raise the profile of the University in the United States and abroad,” says Lisa Tedesco, dean of the Graduate School. “Putting our scholarship online is a strategic way to maximize and extend Emory’s reputation for producing leading-edge research.”

The campus benefits from ETD in numerous other ways. Many students will find their work online just a few weeks after they leave the Emory campus as graduates.

Through ETD, they will find it easier to include audio, video, computer animation, data sets and other materials with their submissions.

From the Graduate School’s perspective, processing theses and dissertations will become more efficient since the new submission system provides automated management tools for academic tracking.

In the libraries, ETD will free shelf space for storing other materials that are not available digitally, says Rick Luce, vice provost and director of libraries.

“The ETD will be the University’s copy of record of student research, and will be carefully preserved by the libraries,” Luce says. “This will make theses and dissertations more easily accessible, allowing researchers broader and more timely access to Emory scholarship.”

Submitting research for inclusion in ETD is easy, says Paul O’Grady, project manager for the ETD program.
“Students will simply submit their work as a PDF file, along with some basic information about their research,” he says. “This information will be displayed in the ETD repository, and also transmitted to Proquest/UMI for their database.”

O’Grady and other colleagues from the libraries will be holding information and training sessions throughout spring semester and again during fall to prepare students to submit their work, and to introduce staff to the new procedures. Sessions for students will include training on copyright, trademark and publishing issues in the digital age.

The Graduate School offers students choices on access restriction. Basic information on all theses and dissertations will be listed in the ETD index. However, access to full text can be set for immediate release or withheld for one, two or six years following graduation. Research on which patents are pending will be kept out of the repository until the necessary filings are completed.

In 2006, the Graduate School and the libraries teamed up to develop the ETD program and related software, with input from faculty members, librarians, administrators and graduate students. A pilot program began in March 2007 among doctoral students from anthropology, art history, chemistry and epidemiology, with favorable results. The ETD repository is currently home to 30 theses and dissertations, 14 of which are available in full-text form.