Electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) are a relatively new mode of research and scholarly communication. Lippincott states that an ETD program provides a process, standards, and software to automate functions, as well as a digital infrastructure for access and preservation (Lippincott, 2006). As a primary source of information, theses and dissertations are particularly useful to researchers, but many languish in obscurity in university libraries and archives. Digital library technologies have helped ETDs gain momentum (Jin, 2004). Theses submitted in support of a PhD are difficult to access, as they are only collected by the library of the university that granted the degree. ETDs can be easily located, readily accessible, and delivered over the Web (Vijaykumar and Murthy, 2001). Most university libraries are very enthusiastic about electronic theses, but thesis supervisors and university administrators have sometimes been less keen on the idea. In most cases, it is necessary to change university regulations in order to require students to deposit an electronic copy of their thesis, which can be a time-consuming and frustrating process (Greig, 2005). This paper attempts to view the status of use and adoption of ETDs in various different parts of the world, and gives a brief history of ETDs, key issues governing ETD projects, potential merits of ETDs, with a glimpse on ETD initiatives in India.
This paper explores the issue of ETD initiatives, adoption, and subsequent implications from studies carried out in different parts of the world. Though there has been a substantial growth of literature on ETDs of late, only selected papers have been reviewed. This paper discusses facets of ETD that are relevant to academic and digital librarians interested in including an ETD repository in their institution.
Zhang, et al. (2001), in their study of the Korean Institute of Technology Information (KISTI), found a significant increase in the use of ETDs, adding that that most users appear to be domestic users along with users from many other countries. Ichiro (2005), exploring work in the UK, highlighted linkage between repository systems and educational processes, and recommended an institutional repository with open access. Greig (2005) found that many UK university libraries are introducing electronic theses and described strategies and challenges in implementation. Copeland, et al. (2005) looked at the Networked Digital Libraries of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), DSpace, and EPrints, along with infrastructure for ETDs in the UK. Lippincott (2006) explores ETD programs, submission software, formats, costs, access, and preservation, among other issues.
Park, et al. (2007) conducted a survey on ETDs in 26 university libraries in Korea and found the National Library leading the development of a system. Alhaji (2007) evaluated the status of ETDs in Nigerian university libraries and found that although there are automated services in those universities, theses and similar materials have not been digitized, due to lack of funds, facilities, and skilled staff, and the constant failure of the electrical supply. Salmi (2008) stated that university libraries of the Arab Gulf States have the infrastructure for ETD programs, although there are technological, administrative, and legal barriers. Yiotis (2008) found that California libraries adapted their ETD models to the needs of their institutions and their graduate students, along with considering human and technical resource allocation. Deng and Reese (2009) present methods for mapping and metadata transfer from DSpace to OCLC, to improve ETD workflow generating MARC records...