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Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) FAQ

The Benefits

Format and Assistance

Impact on Existing Academic Standards and Processes

Publication and Copyright Issues


More Information

What are the benefits or advantages of ETDs over traditional (hard-copy) manuscripts?

  • Broader exposure of graduate student research through greater accessibility via the World Wide Web. Research is accessible to any potential reader every day at any time;
  • Opportunities to use new forms of creative scholarship through use of interactive elements, multimedia, hyperlinks, etc.;
  • Ability to have a hyperlink to the thesis/dissertation on homepages and electronic CVs;
  • Professional development experience for graduate students as they learn the basic skills of scholarly publishing in an electronic format;
  • Conservation of paper and library storage space;
  • Theses and dissertations more immediately accessible: publication occurs near point of submission rather than many months later.
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Why PDF?

Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) allows documents created through word processing to be made available on the Web. PDF makes it possible for the fonts, format, and pagination to remain consistent when viewed from different platforms such as Windows, Macintosh, and Unix and different Web browsers such as Mozilla and Internet Explorer. Adobe Reader can be downloaded for free, thus providing everyone with access to the document. The Association for Research Libraries (ARL) has set standards for archiving digital materials in PDF, so archiving is better ensured. Finally, PDF is the text-based format accepted by UMI, the ProQuest division responsible for publishing dissertations.

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Why don't I see the Electronic Theses and Dissertations collection as an option after I log in to ScholarsArchive@OSU to submit my thesis/dissertation?

The interface with the ONID network ID system is probably not working. Contact Sue Kunda (541.737.7262) or Michael Boock (541.737.9155) at the University Libraries. They will manually authorize you to submit to the collection.

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What other electronic formats are allowed?

The text-based portion of the thesis or dissertation should be a PDF file. You may use the following additional permitted file types already approved and supported by ProQuest's UMI division for electronic dissertations: image files as .gif, .jpeg, or .tif; video files as .mov, .mpg, or .avi; and audio files as .aif, .midi, .snd, .wav, or as CD-DA, CD-ROM/XA, or MPEG-2. You may also submit additional file types such as spreadsheets: .xls, as secondary, accompanying files.

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Can I submit multiple PDFs in my ETD?

No. Only one PDF in an ETD is acceptable. In addition to the one PDF, you may submit other files such as .mpgs, .wavs, MPEG-2s, etc. where appropriate. See the complete list of acceptable file types under the FAQ concerning permitted electronic formats.

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Will I need to buy my own copy of the Adobe software?

No. Many campus and departmental computer labs, including those listed below, have computers equipped with software that converts documents written in Microsoft Word to Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. The software will allow you to convert your word processing document to PDF format as well as create bookmarks. Media Services can assist with document preparation if you have any questions. Adobe Acrobat can also be purchased from the OSU Bookstore if so desired.

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What computers are available that I can use to create my ETD?

Many campus and departmental computer labs have computers equipped with software that converts documents written in Microsoft Word to Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. The software will allow you to convert your word processing document to PDF format as well as create bookmarks. Labs that have the software include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Education 126 (Windows)
  • Kidder 028 (Mac)
  • Kidder 033 (Windows)
  • Milne (Windows / Mac)
  • Milne 130 (Windows)
  • Milne 201 (Windows)
  • Weniger 222 (Mac)

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Why are bookmarks suggested for my PDF?

Bookmarks are links that enable the reader of the ETD to navigate through the document chapter by chapter. They also allow the reader to link to tables, figures, charts, etc. Bookmarks are strongly suggested in the ETD because they enable long documents, such as dissertations and theses, to be easily read. For information on how to create bookmarks, see the University of Cincinnati's Guide to Creating Bookmarks.

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If I have already started writing my thesis/dissertation in a word processing document, is it too late to change it to a PDF file?

No. Students will need to create their original document using a word processor, such as Microsoft Word. You should apply the Thesis Formatting Guidelines. Once you are done working with your document in a word processor, you will then need to convert it to a PDF file, which will retain the original document format (for the purpose of future editing). Conversion into a PDF file is a straightforward process. Questions regarding PDF creation can be directed to the Media Services office.

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Are there any size limits imposed on ETDs?


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Is there a different ETD-specific Style and Form Manual I need to refer to for information on specifications on the submission format for my ETD?

No. Apply the Thesis Formatting Guidelines.

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What procedures are in place for accepting items in the ETD that cannot be digitized?

Students who need to incorporate items in their ETD that cannot be digitized should notify Julie Kurtz, thesis editor at the Graduate School (julie.kurtz@oregonstate.edu), explaining what the item is and why it cannot be digitized. Requests to include non-digitized items will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

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What assistance is available for help with creating my ETD?

For assistance creating your ETD, contact Media Services.

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How will an ETD affect the faculty's role in assuring the quality of the dissertation?

Faculty will continue to be responsible for upholding the quality of the thesis or dissertation, whether that thesis or dissertation is submitted using electronic formats or through paper.

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How will producing an ETD affect my defense?

This should be handled at the thesis/dissertation committee level. Some committees may require that students provide all members of the committee with a paper copy of the ETD before the defense; others may elect to read on-screen or to have committee members take individual responsibility for working from screen or paper they print out themselves.

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Do my committee members have to read my ETD on a computer screen?

Printed versions of the textual components of an ETD should always be made available to committee members at their request. If non-text elements of the ETD are part of the defense, the committee should consider the most effective way to ensure that all members of the committee have access to non-text elements during the defense.

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Who is responsible for processing the electronic submission after dissertation/thesis committee approval?

After the committee signs off on the electronic thesis or dissertation, the student should submit the ETD to the ScholarsArchive@OSU Electronic Theses and Dissertations collection. The online system will then send the ETD to the thesis editor at the Graduate School for approval. The thesis editor will be responsible for approving the ETD, making sure that the file's formatting is correct, the links work, etc. After the ETD has been approved, it will then be sent to the University Libraries for archiving, cataloging and, in the case of dissertations, sent to ProQuest/UMI.

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Do ETDs save the University money?

Quantifying costs for either traditional theses/dissertations or ETDs is not really possible; however, our best guess is that there is no money to be saved by changing to ETDs. That is, print and electronic theses and dissertations are approximately equivalent in cost. The primary motivation for producing ETDs is wider access of graduate student research and the other benefits noted in FAQ number one.

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How will producing an ETD affect my ability to later publish an article or book based on or related to my thesis or dissertation?

The vast majority of publishers do not see freely available ETDs as a problem. If you plan to submit a revised version of your thesis/dissertation (or a part of the thesis/dissertation) for publication, you should consult with likely publishers in advance about the availability of your work online. According to survey respondents at Virginia Tech, "last year only 3% of [Virginia Tech] ETD authors were advised by publishers to restrict access. This is down from 6% in 2000. A survey of university presses (publishers of both books and journals) showed little concern about online availability of theses and dissertations in terms of later decisions to publish." See complete article at How Authors and Readers Really Feel about ETDs

The Academic Journal Policy Database (AJPD) provides information about publishers' policies regarding ETD prepublication.

Because there may be concern in a few fields regarding publishers' perception of ETDs as a prior publication, students will be able to restrict the access to their ETD on a case by case basis.

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What experience does the University have in accepting or working with ETDs?

In August 2005 the University Libraries, the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and the Graduate School began developing a process that would enable students to easily submit pdf files of their dissertations or theses. Early reports from EECS faculty and students encouraged us to invite other departments and programs to join this activity. As of April 2006, approximately 40% of all theses and dissertations are being submitted with one hard copy and one electronic copy. Beginning July 1, 2006 all doctoral dissertations will be required to be submitted electronically. All Master's theses will be required to be submitted electronically beginning Jan. 1, 2007.

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Are the rules governing the use of copyrighted materials any different for ETDs compared to hard-copy theses and dissertations?

No. The author owns copyright to his/her thesis or dissertation, regardless of format. As part of the electronic submission process, authors may choose a Creative Commons license to apply to be applied to their thesis or dissertation that provides a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors.

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If I properly cite all my sources in the form of a footnote, endnote, or bibliography, do I still need to get copyright permission?

If the material you are quoting or reproducing does not fall under the general guidelines of "fair use" then you will need to get written permission from the copyright owner.

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What does "fair use" mean?

Since a dissertation or thesis is published for non-profit educational purposes, the author is permitted limited use of copyrighted material under the guidelines of "fair use." The purpose, amount, nature, and effect of the work reproduced determine whether or not one must seek permission from the copyright owner.

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What are some examples of things that I probably would need to get copyright permission for?

Items that you would want to pay special attention to would be materials such as graphs, charts, data, pictures, maps, illustrations, long quotations, questionnaires, journal articles, music, archival material, unpublished works, computer software, and creative works such as poetry, novels, and plays.

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Are there any hard and fast rules for the amount of text I can use in my ETD from a copyrighted source without attaining copyright permission?

There are no exact rules to follow; however, you should be acutely aware that quoting lengthy passages such as 500 words in a single passage, 2000 words throughout a single copyrighted manuscript, more than one and one-half single spaced pages of text, and more than three or four lines of poetry are all examples that will send up red flags. For different types of works such as music, art, photographs, cartoons, etc., it is imperative that their use be closely linked to your research objectives and that the reproduction does not supersede the market for the original.

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If my dissertation is online, don't I increase the risk of being plagiarized?

Plagiarism is a risk faced by all authors. You will continue to have the same legal recourse whether your dissertation is available electronically or in hard copy. ETD files do not require any security settings on the PDF copy (passwords should not be required to open the document). In the Security feature of Adobe Acrobat, checking the box titled "No Content Copying or Extraction, Disable Accessibility" will prevent a user from copying text and graphics from your PDF file; however, it will also disable the accessibility interface.

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How do I cite an ETD?

Author. "Title." Master's Thesis or Dissertation, University, Date. ETD URL

For more information refer to the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition or The Columbia Guide to Online Style.

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Where can I go for more information about copyright issues in general, as well as those related to ETDs?

  • Visit the OSU Libraries copyright WIKI.
  • Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Refer to the Handbook for Academic Authors, by Beth Luey; it includes a full chapter on contracts and rights transfers. A copy of this book is available in the reference collection of Valley Library.
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How will electronic theses and dissertations be archived and maintained over time?

Dissertations (whether submitted in electronic or hard-copy format) will continue to be archived and maintained in electronic and microfilm format by ProQuest (formerly known as UMI/Bell & Howell). In addition, both theses and dissertations submitted in electronic format will be archived and maintained on a University Libraries server. The University Libraries are committed to regular updating of archived electronic documents to ensure they continue to be accessible to future technologies and use an open architecture for file types and structures so that they can be more easily migrated to future file types.

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How will digital theses and dissertations be accessible?

After submission in ScholarsArchive@OSU the theses and dissertations are quickly made available worldwide through the Library Catalog, other library electronic search mechansims, ScholarsArchive@OSU itself, Open Archives Initiative search engines, and web search engines (e.g. Google).

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Where can I learn more about ETDs?

For more information about ETDs, see the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations Web site.

If you have specific questions about ETDs at Oregon State University that were not answered in the Web site, e-mail Julie Kurtz, Graduate School Thesis Editor.

If you are having difficulty with the submission process in ScholarsArchive@OSU, contact Patti Black (541.737.7263) or Sue Kunda (541.737.7262) at the University Libraries.

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