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Electronic Theses And Dissertations At Virginia Tech: A Question Of Access

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.253.1 - 5.253.24

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Larry A. Thompson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1441

Electronic Theses and Dissertations at Virginia Tech: A Question of Access Larry A. Thompson Virginia Tech


Since January 1, 1997 graduate students at Virginia Tech have been required to submit their theses and dissertations in electronic format. These Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) have been the subject of much discussion by faculty and students at Virginia Tech, as well as by a broader international community of publishers, scholars, and librarians. One of the questions posed in these discussions is: "Compared with traditional paper format theses and dissertations (PTDs), do the ETDs increase or decrease access to information?" After providing a brief historical context of ETDs at Virginia Tech, this paper examines the question of ETD access at that institution. Several aspects of access are presented among which are: total number of ETDs accessible, number of times ETDs and PTDs are accessed, access variations by department and college, archival access of ETDs, and access of ETDs through ILL. More specifically, it also examines the College of Engineering ETDs and compares their access to ETDs from other disciplines. It is concluded that the two major access factors are: 1) total ETDs available and, 2) ease of accessing ETDs. With regard to the first, ETDs severely limit access to theses and dissertations, prohibiting worldwide access to nearly 40% of the engineering ETDs, and over 60% of the non-Engineering ETDs. With regard to ease of access, for the ETDs that are available worldwide, there is immediate and complete access, a significant improvement over PTDs. Finally, the paper makes suggestions for modifying data gathering in the submission process, in order to enhance the probability that access can be increased.

I. ETDs at Virginia Tech: Background Information

This brief historical overview of Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) at Virginia Tech is included to give context to the discussion about ETD access that follows. Comprehensive information regarding the background of ETDs at Virginia Tech can be found in the resources cited below. In order to facilitate information retrieval about the ETD history at Virginia Tech, all the sources cited are available on-line, and URLs have been provided.


In 1996 Virginia Tech received funding from the Southeastern Universities Research Association to explore ETDs as SGML documents. This was followed in 1997 by funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education, which would allow Virginia Tech to extend ETDs to the national level.1 In addition, Adobe Systems Inc., IBM and Microsoft provided software and hardware support for the project.2

Thompson, L. A. (2000, June), Electronic Theses And Dissertations At Virginia Tech: A Question Of Access Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2000 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015