Image by flickr user quinnanya, CC BY-SA

Image by flickr user quinnanya, CC BY-SA

The quantity of student-produced scholarship and research here at Ohio State is staggering. The oldest Ohio State thesis/dissertation dates from the late 1890s.  Since then, more than 82,000 theses and dissertations have been written by OSU students and deposited with or had access provided through the Libraries. Since Autumn 2002, all doctoral dissertations have been required to be electronically submitted to the OhioLINK ETD Center.  (“ETD” means “electronic theses and dissertations”.) The requirement for electronic deposit to the ETD Center was extended to masters theses (except for those in Creative Writing) in 2009.

In addition to the required electronic submission of new theses and dissertations, the OSU Libraries are digitizing older theses and dissertations to make them more accessible, and in some cases as a means of preserving and presenting the contents of crumbling documents that can no longer be safely physically handled. These documents are also added to the ETD Center.

This is the first in a series of  three posts demystifying the process by which Ohio State ETDs are submitted and made available online. This post looks at current ETDs, the next will examine the process for digitizing and making available historic ETDs, and the third will examine the anatomy of a record in the ETD Center.

Submission and approval

Many graduate degrees here at OSU require a thesis in partial fulfillment of requirements to graduate. For both masters theses and doctoral dissertations, the document must be approved by a committee and must meet specific formatting requirements. These are laid out in the Graduate School Handbook. Once the finalized document is approved, it is ready to be submitted to the OhioLINK ETD Center. This is done by the author, and must be done by the deadlines established by the Graduate School in order to graduate as scheduled.

Making it available

Once the document is submitted, the author waits while the Graduate School and OhioLINK take over.  The Graduate School reviews the submitted document one last time for errors (either human or machine generated) and makes sure that the last of the student’s fees have been paid and that all paperwork has been completed. Once those steps are confirmed, the document is “published”—meaning that it becomes available in the OhioLINK ETD Center.

There is a process in place for a student to delay the appearance of an ETD.  This delay is usually referred to as an “embargo.” An embargo must be approved by the Graduate School and may be for up to five years.  The most common time period is for one year, and is typically granted to accommodate patent applications and efforts to formally publish ETD content in commercial publications. The Graduate School will still “publish” the abstract and title information of the ETD, but the document will not be available for viewing or downloading until the embargo expires.

OhioLINK’s role in the ETD Center is to provide the host site and technical support. The institutions that contribute to it are responsible for the content.

Making it discoverable

The Libraries’ role is to catalog the ETDs after they become available in the ETD Center. Catalogers receive a notification email from the ETD Center for each ETD when it is published to the ETD Center. They then create a record for each ETD, just as they would for any other book, to make it findable in the catalog and OCLC’s WorldCat database.

Next time…

The next post in this series will look at the process for digitizing and making available older theses and dissertations.