November 1997

Root Page of Article: Problems and Possibilities of Electronic Theses and Dissertations, by Christian Weisser, John Baker, and Janice R. Walker

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 12:38:52 -0500 (EST)
From: "Janice Walker (ENG)" <>
To: "John Baker (ENG)" <>
Cc: "Christian Weisser (ENG)" <>
Subject: Re: your mail

Librarians are indeed taking electronic publication seriously--not only theses and dissertations but ALL publications. Of course, resources are limited everywhere. But it is the future :)

So far what I've got is some names of people at other universities who are involved in the same kinds of discussions on their campuses, attempting to set the "guidelines," and a few individuals who have offered to discuss their own attempts to convince their universities to ALLOW them to publish electronically.

Mine aren't substantive yet, though. I think we need to formulate some specific questions for them, and then I can respond. :)

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 13:04:20 -0500 (EST)
From: "Ilene Frank (REF)" <>
To: "Janice Walker (ENG)" <>
Subject: Re: Citing (fwd)

On Thu, 23 Jan 1997, Janice Walker (ENG) wrote:

I've been "asked" to serve as the student rep on a university-wide committee looking at whether or not to "allow" or "encourage" electronic publication of student theses and dissertations here at usf.

Any comments??? :)

Yeah, we've been thinking about the implications of that over here. One problem is what the heck do you do if someone wants to borrow it? Print out a copy? Copy the disk? What if they don't have the same programs at the other end? What if they don't have a computer?? What about formats and programs that go out of style? Does that mean the ILL departments have to drop what they are doing and run off dissertations for users on demand? Do we supply equipment so people can read them here? What about storing oddball things like architecture and art pieces? Insist that students get everything reproduced digitally? Is that easier or harder? Cheaper or more expensive? I'm thinking about getting my slides done... I hired someone to do make really good slides. I guess it wouldn't have been hard to stick'em on a disk instead of making the slides - what about my committee? Would they have wanted to review my thesis on the screen? Students would need to make a hard copy anyway? It's pretty easy to eyeball hardcopy. And is it really cheaper to store'em on a webserver? (Well, probably)

All of this can be solved of course, but it's interesting that it's not a "yeah sure let's do it" kind of thing - at least it doesn't appear that way to me. It seems kinda yucky and messy.


Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 14:07:58 +0800
From: Gail McMillan <>
Subject: electronic theses/dissertations


I read your note on diglibns about citing electronic documents, and saw that you are also looking into electronic theses and dissertations. We have such a project here at Virginia Tech too and I thought we might be able to share information. The library has a Web site with lots of information at and we have a Web site that is much broader in scope at Please have a look and let me know what we might be doing similarly or differently.
Virginia Tech has received a grant from the US Dept. of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Secondary Education (FIPSE) to address these issues also. Perhaps someone at your institution has already been contacted by Ed Fox (Computer Center) or John Eaton (Graduate School) to discuss collaborating on providing access to ETDs.
Any chance you'll be attending ALA's Midwinter next month in Washington, DC? If so, I'd love to get together with you to talk about ETDs.
Thanks, Gail Mc
Gail McMillan University Libraries, Virginia Tech
Director, Scholarly Communications Project
Head, Special Collections Department

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 12:53:32 -0700
From: Daniel Eisenberg <>
Reply-To: Digital Libraries Research mailing list
To: Multiple recipients of list DIGLIB <DIGLIB@INFOSERV.NLC-BNC.CA>
Subject: Re: electronic dissertations

I think this is a big issue. I'm a professor; I had a student who wanted to do a digital edition of a text for a thesis but the university insisted on a paper copy of the digital edition. No one, including the computer center, would take on the task of providin garchival storage.

Almost every dissertation now, in the U.S., is done in some type of digital format. These disks are erased and recycled, or sit in the hands of the new Ph.D. This is a waste of a resource that future generations may well take us to task for. But of course it costs money to store them.

One of my colleagues even had a "disk-erasing party" after completing a project (a book, not a dissertation).

Daniel Eisenberg
Assistant to the Dean for Information Technology
College of Arts and Sciences
Northern Arizona University "The Mountain Campus"
Box 5621
Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5621

Tel: (520) 523-6226
Fax: (520) 523-0516

Date: Fri, 24 Jan 1997 20:44:12 +0100 (MET)
From: Kerstin Olofsson <>
Subject: Citing (off-list)

Dear Janice,
Our project on electronic publishing of doctoral dissertations has only been running for less than a year, and what we have done so far is
1) checking what faculty really wants
2) looking at what people are doing on this subject nationally and internationally (UK, US for instance)
3) tested different techniques for implementing the documents.
4) looked into copyright issues

1) faculty thought
A) yes, yes, yes, we must do this - also retrospective
B) no, no, no, this is far too early to decide and whatever for - we have the printed books? And the whole scale between these 2 extreme statements.

2) interesting, but it seems to me that
A) everyone is reinventing the wheel - meaning developing their own versions of programs that handles this and that in electronic publishing and then they get no funding...
B) everyone is more or less waiting for someone (Bill Gates?) to set the standards

3) we have e.g. tested scanning of the dissertations both as text with OCR and as plain images. The OCR versions are better-looking but have to be checked carefully especially if the original text was written on a typewriter, since the OCR-program interprets the text incorrectly if there is a difference in space between letters. The plain image version is correct but not as good-looking. So I guess it's a matter of opinion (and time and money). We have also transferred documents from different formats of digital media to .pdf files and in some cases HTML.

4) the copyright issues are the most complicated part of the project. I guess you have the same problem in the States, that the author of the thesis or dissertation also sells the rights to it to a commercial publisher as well. So you would have to negotiate with every publisher for each commercially published thesis. Then you have the problem with the other type of dissertations, mostly in science and medicine, which usually are made up of articles already given to scholarly journals. Articles in journals that the university libraries BUY back!

I won't take up more of your time, Janice. Our project will be published on the web shortly, unfortunately in Swedish, but there will be an introduction and the proposal in English, if you should be interested. We are not sure of the funding for a continuation of this project as of yet. Meanwhile, me and my colleague Mats are the projectleaders of a national project on electronic course reserves which will be reported beginning of April.

All the best,

Kerstin Olofsson (Mrs)
Head of Teacher Education Library
Ume=E5 University Library
Teacher Education Library
S-901 74 UME=C5 Sweden
Vox + 46 90 - 16 65 25

"Life is a mystery to experience - not a problem to solve"

Date: Fri, 24 Jan 1997 22:27:31 -0500 (EST)
From: "Ilene Frank (REF)" <>
To: Janice Walker <>
Subject: Electronic dissertations

One of the St. Pete librarians today said that they found out that the only way to copyright a disseration is to send hardcopy to LC. They don't accept disks for registration.

Ilene Frank, Reference Dept.
Tampa Campus Library, LIB 122
University of South Florida, Tampa FL 33620 Work 813.974.2483

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 20:19:03 -0600 (CST)
From: "James R. Kalmbach" <>
Subject: electronic thesis


I have directed three electronic theses, two in hypercard, one on the web. What do you want to know about them?

Jim Kalmbach
Illinois State University

Date: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 20:23:05 -0600
From: Paula Puffer <>
Subject: Electronic Thesis

Dear Janice

I saw your post on acw-l I'm currently in the process of doing a thesis that is part online and part on paper. The project part of the thesis is the UWC Online ( and with that I have to write a cover "essay" to go with it (this part discusses the design issues, the Writing Center issues, and the tutoring issues).

If you need more information let me know.


Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 10:09:19 -0500 (EST)
From: "Anne N. Thalheimer" <motes@UDel.Edu>
Subject: e-thesis & diss.

I got your message from my teaching supervisor. My name's anne thalheimer & i'm planning to do some e-publishing, first with my master's thesis in english & hopefully my diss. if i get into the doctoral program here at U of DE. we can't submit the e-thesis; we still have to turn in hard copies for microfilm & binding & such. for me, e-thesis publishing is primo; i'm writing about comic books and graphic novels, which means that i can't use any images without permission from a whole slew of folks, permission i am not likely to get, since there are some extensive legal battles going on. So, e-publishing is a good way to get images out by making links to the images already on the WWW; the reader gets to look at image-text and letter-text, which is something i can't do in print.
that's about it.
thanks & good luck.
anne thalheimer

Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 10:44:04 -0500 (EST)
From: Tim Krause <>
Subject: Re: Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Hi Janice,

Late this month, I'll have my oral defense of the dissertation prospectus. Briefly I'll be studying hypertext on the WWW (and WWW as hypertext) and it made sense to both me and my chair to have one chapter entirely online. We expect that the committee will be receptive, and that the Graduate Studies Office won't much interfere. If you like, I'll definitely keep you posted on progress.

Good luck with your study.


Tim Krause
Department of English Purdue University

Date: Thu, 16 Jan 1997 17:32:24 -0600
From: jana moring <>
Subject: Electronic Theses, Dissertations, etc.

Hi Janice,

A friend of mine forwarded your message to me from her list. I was interested for a time in indexing and creating a database of theses/dissertations in the areas of composition/rhetoric and professional communication. Now, this would be just a database of citations-- but in my research on the project, I looked at actual full-text theses and dissertations online. I think if you will e-putter over to Syracuse, there is a guy there who has published his dissertation online in the Information Transfer (library and info. sci) dept. He is also very active in putting ERIC online, so he really knows his stuff. I think he would be a great person to ask about copyright, etc. (his field). So I hope this helps...

Jana C. Moring


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