Case Western Reserve University is committed to equal access to information, programs, and activities for everyone. Accessibility—ensuring people of all abilities are provided with substantially similar functionality, experiences and information—is an institution-wide responsibility. Information on making your thesis or dissertation meet Minimum Digital Accessibility Standards (MDAS) can be found on the Electronic Theses and Dissertations Guidelines page.
When your ETD is published on the web, it will be accessible at the OhioLINK site.
With electronic theses and dissertations, students and universities may more easily share knowledge, with much lower costs. It is estimated that about 200,000 theses or dissertations are completed each year. It would greatly aid graduate education if as many as possible of these were made freely available.
We realize that some students, especially in the humanities, prepare books related to their theses or dissertations. In general, it appears to be the case that electronic release of early versions of a book leads to greater sales of such books. Indeed, having an electronic work made available on the Internet, and showing a publisher a large number of electronic accesses to that work, may help you land a book contract.
Usually, books that relate to theses or dissertations turn out to be significantly changed as part of the editorial process. This makes it likely that those interested in your work will buy your book when it comes out, even if they have reviewed your ETD.
However, since publishers vary widely in their policies, it may be wise to share this information and other documents about the ETD initiative with publishers to whom you are likely to submit your work.
UMI, now known as ProQuest, is a corporation in Ann Arbor, Michigan which maintains a microform archive of approximately 1.5 million dissertations, as well as an online service called Dissertation Abstracts. Most dissertations written in the U.S. are submitted to UMI for archiving on microfilm, from which microform or paper copies may be produced. UMI functions as an on-demand book publisher which eliminates the editorial process. One of the services they offer is to help you regarding copyright and working with publishers.
UMI accepts electronic submissions or paper submissions. The latter are scanned and OCR'ed, but in most cases current technology does not yield as good a result as would come from an electronic submission. They have made available online electronic versions of all works they received since 1996.
Few theses are sent to UMI. The ETD initiative aims to capture the hundreds of thousands of theses that UMI does not receive each year.
UMI has a representative on the Steering Committee and on the Technical Advisory Committee for the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD). More information about UMI can be found at www.proquest.com.
The NDLTD project focuses on graduate education and on raising the level of knowledge transfer. Because students may wish to read a thesis or dissertation that was prepared many years before, it is imperative that the NDLTD arrange for archiving of ETDs, so they can be accessed even when media and technology change. UMI, as well as the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), is interested in providing such archival services.
The university commits to electronic archiving of works received, making sure that these will be accessible in the future, regardless of changes in media and standards. This is a firm guarantee so you need not worry. In addition, paper documents can easily be produced from electronic documents, but not vice versa.
When you have your research published in a conference, book, or journal, you usually sign some type of agreement with the publisher. You should read the agreement carefully before signing. Make sure you understand and agree with the terms and conditions. If you don't, you may want to change the agreement in connection with discussion/negotiation with the publisher, and possibly with advice of legal or other counsel. The agreement should be explicit about what future rights of use you retain. If you want to include the materials in a dissertation or to reuse the materials for teaching or a book chapter, it is important to document this in the agreement.
As the author you are entitled to discuss your plans with the publisher. We encourage you to obtain an agreement that allows you to include your research in a freely available electronic thesis or dissertation.
During negotiations you may also want to discuss matters of timing and revision. You have the right to negotiate with a publisher to reduce access to your ETD for a limited amount of time, if they request this as a condition on publishing your article. However, most publishers consider a thesis or dissertation to be quite different from a journal article. Typically an article is much shorter than the chapter or full work and has been revised as a result of the editorial process and peer review. Sometimes, it might also have several authors. Because of these reasons, many publishers have no concerns regarding fully accessible ETDs.
If you have published an article or articles before you turn in your thesis or dissertation, and you desire credit for it with your graduate requirements, you have a number of options. These should be discussed with your committee, and possibly with your publisher. First, you can simply cite the publication in your references. Second, if the publisher has the publication online, you can link or point to it (with permission of the publisher, who usually has protection so that paying customers or subscribers are the only ones allowed access). Third, if the publisher gives you a signed release, you can include the publication in your thesis or dissertation as stated in the release. If the publisher restricts access in the release, possibly to your university, you may want to have two versions of your thesis or dissertation--one with and one without the chapter (e.g., published article) in question.
This matter may be avoided if your thesis or dissertation talks about your research in a very different way from the published article. This often makes sense because articles are typically short, and your thesis or dissertation may be the only place where the details, data, tables, and other aspects of your research are made available.