Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs)

Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs)

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch584
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Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) have been a recent addition to the library's online access system, or digital project. This chapter traces the history of dissertations, from their printed form and issuance in microform by various agencies. It examines the changes in textual content and its presentation from the pre-digital to digitized documents, and the relation to software developed for music and other fields. It then examines the evolution of audio and video formats for the accompanying materials, particularly in the performing arts, and the content of these materials. It concludes with issues in ETDs Management and Ensuring Long-Term Access and Preservation, such as digital quality and copyright.
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As forms of scholarship evolve, so do users’ and creators’ expectations. Theses and dissertations represent part of the historical record of graduate education at the institution. Those produced prior to the advent of the photocopier were created by the use of carbon paper. However, often in the domain of music, the need for accompanying material required the student to attach a separate sheet with the musical notation to each copy. Students attached photographs and illustrations, predominantly black and white, in much the same manner.

The first electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) project was launched in 1987 by a business company and a long-term vendor of theses and dissertations for academic libraries, University Microfilms International (UMI), by converting its large collection of dissertations on microfiches and microfilms going back to 1939 into electronic form. The first non-profit ETD hosted by a university was launched ten years later, in 1997, at Virginia Tech, which made electronic submission of theses and dissertations through its ETD system a requirement for the university’s graduating students (Ramirez et al., 2014). Virginia Tech University, along with representatives from UMI and the American Council of Graduate Schools, was one of the founders of the Coalition for Networked Information’s joint project, with the goal to collaboratively develop collections of ETDs. In 1995 this resulted in creation of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (Fox et al., 1997).

Since the late 1990s, an increasing number of academic institutions have mandated the electronic submission of theses and dissertations. Today, textual dissertations need only be in a word processing file and converted to a more permanent and unchangeable file format to become Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs). The current digital submissions of ETDs experienced significant increased usage of graphics or multi-media contents.

During the analog age examples of handwritten music had to be glued into the dissertation, with the typescript below it; this included attaching the original music on the carbon copies. With the introduction of musical software (Finale, Sibelius) or imaging software, writers could place these materials inline inside the dissertation. A move to an all-digital means of providing electronic theses and dissertations is accelerating their discovery and facilitating their use, value, and impact in research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) is a controlled vocabulary maintained by the United States Library of Congress, for use in bibliographic records.

RDA: Resource Description and Access (RDA) is a standard for descriptive cataloging initially released in 2010, providing instructions and guidelines on formulating bibliographic data. RDA divides bibliographic entities into works, expressions, manifestations, and items.

OAI-PMH: Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is a mechanism developed for harvesting metadata descriptions of records in an archive.

LCGFT: Library of Congress Genre Form Thesaurus (LCGFT) is a controlled vocabulary of genres and forms maintained by the United States Library of Congress, for use in bibliographic and authority records.

Intellectual Property Rights: Refers to creations of the mind: inventions; literary and artistic works and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

OA: Open Access (OA) refers to online research outputs freely accessible, without restrictions on costs (e.g. access tolls) or use (e.g., copyright, performance rights, and licensing).

ETD: The term “Electronic Theses and Dissertations” (ETD) is used primarily to differentiate between analog theses and dissertations (paper, microfilm) and their digital counterparts (digital objects). However, “ETDs” may also be digitized or born digital.

Digital Curation: The active management, preservation, and enrichment of digital resources.

LCMPT: Library of Congress Medium of Performance Thesaurus (LCMPT) is a controlled vocabulary maintained by the United States Library of Congress, for use in bibliographic and authority records. Terms provide maximum granularity of the medium of performance.

RDF: Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a standard model for data interchange on the Web, facilitates data merging across several schemas.

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