Guidelines for Implementing ETD Programs

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This is a placeholder workspace for draft and final documents related to this project deliverable.


About this Document

This document will provide information to help institutions understand the functions of different stakeholders in an ETD program, thereby streamlining the process of implementing or overhauling ETD programs. This document will provide guidance for understanding roles and responsibilities, together with frank acknowledgements of the concerns that different stakeholders may have, and how ETD programs have addressed these issues as well as the ramifications of not specifying roles and responsibilities.

A final working outline for this Guidance document is available to all project steering committee authors for review and comment at Google Docs.


More and more institutions have required that students submit theses and dissertations in a digital format since the mid-1990s. The management of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) has raised a number of issues concerning the processes of ETD creation, ingestion, access, archiving and preservation across institutions. An ETD program provides vital services to manage the intellectual output of graduate students, making ETDs available in a much wider arena. Like any other project, implementing an ETD program requires that various stakeholders be identified, and the role and responsibility of each player be specified throughout the entire course of ETD management. Effectively engaging essential stakeholders in the project management, and successfully coordinating participants’ roles and responsibilities, are the keys that enable an ETD program to thrive over time. Without these crucial components, an ETD program could fail at the initial planning stage or lack continual support for further development. Previous research has investigated various stakeholders and their concerns and issues during the early planning stages of ETD programs. This document will act as a guideline for identifying potential stakeholders relating to an ETD project and for understanding their functions in general at different management phases. It is understood that as the governance, organization, staffing, and policies differ from institution to institution, the involved parties and their duties may not be identical to those specified in the document.

Types of Stakeholders

  • Internal Stakeholders
    • Institution Administration (including president, provost, graduate council, deans of various colleges, general counsel, chief information officer)
    • Graduate Schools
      • Administration: graduate council, dean, graduate school personnel
      • Graduate students
      • Faculty
    • Libraries
      • Administration: dean, assistant or associate dean, department chairs
      • Digital Initiative Department
      • System Department
      • Technic Services
      • Reference Department
    • Offices of Information Technology (including such as chief information officer, system administrator, program analyst, application support specialist, PC support specialist, IT help desk staff)
  • External Stakeholders
    • Commercial vendors/publishers: ProQuest/UMI
    • NDLTD(Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations)
    • ETD Consortia: OhioLINK ETD Center, Texas Digital Library
    • Access harvesters/facilitators
      • Search engines: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask...
      • Web discovery tool service providers: e.g., Serial Solutions’ Summon, Innovative Interface’s Encore, MANGO, Ex Libris’s Primo...
      • OAI harvesting group
      • OCLC harvests ETDs through OAIster
    • Digital Preservation
      • MetaArchive Cooperative
      • Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe(LOCKSS)
      • Florida Digital Archive
      • Cloud-based service providers: DuraCloud...
    • Others: ETD funders, ETD System developers (e.g., Vireo), researchers/end users...

Stakeholders’ Roles and Responsibilities

  • ETD program Planning
    • Planning Committees (including members from various stakeholders within an institution): responsible for initiating the program. Major responsibilities:
      • Propose an ETD program
      • Advocate the program: outreach to stakeholders, educate faculty and students...
      • Create an implementation plan if the proposal is approved
        • Divide responsibilities among the stakeholders
        • Decide an ETD metadata standard
        • Determine where to host ETDs: outside vendors, ETD consortia or local systems
        • Evaluate and select ETD submission, publishing, archiving and preservation systems
        • Consult with the Office of General Counsel regarding ETD intellectual property rights and copyright
        • Draft and send personnel, resource and budget requests
    • Institution administration: responsible for providing the oversight of the ETD program. Major responsibilities:
      • Review and approve the ETD program proposal and implementation plan
        • Allocate resources for implementation and ongoing maintenance, and assign responsibilities to individual units/staff
        • Make a decision with respect to ETD submission policy (mandatory or optional) and timeline

ETD Program Implementation

  • ETD Creation, Submission and Ingestion
    • Graduate Students are ETD data creators and most likely submitters. Major responsibilities:
      • Work with faculty advisors to write ETDs
      • Format ETDs: in accordance with requirements
      • Make embargo requests due to sensitive data, pending publication, and restricted research
      • Submit ETDs
        • Sign ETD approval forms and other pertinent licenses, submit ETDs before deadline, and provide metadata information such as keywords
        • Pay for the publishing fees, copyright registration fees and copies (optional) to ProQuest/UMI, and may register copyright with the United States Copyright office
    • Faculty are advisors and approvers of ETDs. Major responsibilities:
      • Advise on ETD creation and embargoes due to patent pending, national security ...
      • Review and approve ETDs
      • Advise on publishing ETDs in journals or books or repositories
    • Graduate Schools (Graduate Council, dean, staff): make new policies for degree completion, manage submission process and approve ETDs. Major responsibilities:
      • Develop policies (including embargoes and acceptable formats) and guidelines, establish procedures and forms
      • Collaborate with hosted parties and establish a submission workflow and submission form
      • Assist students with ETD formatting, submission, and etc.
      • Review and approve submissions: reject, publish, edit
    • Libraries (Administration, Digital Initiative Department, and Technic Services): manage the processes of bringing born-digital ETDs into the libraries and handle retrospective ETDs. Major responsibilities are for:
      • Born-digital ETDs
        • Establish an ETD workflow for catalogers and metadata librarians
        • Determine ETD metadata fields and catalog ETDs in local IRs, or in hosted systems
      • Retrospective ETDs
        • Decide whether using local digitization services or outsourcing retrospective ETDs to vendors and handle the relationship
        • Catalog and ingest retrospective ETDs to local IRs
    • Institution Administration (Office of General Counsel): provide legal principles of digital information use and access and make legal policies. Major responsibilities:
      • Develop an ETD release policy
      • Advise ETD intellectual property rights, copyright, fair use and plagiarism
      • Conduct workshops
    • Offices of Information Technology: provide tech support for ETD creation and submission. Major responsibilities:
      • Advise on format standards
      • Set up technological infrastructure; install third-party platforms or develop in-house applications for ETD submission; Prepare workstations and install necessary applications to assist in ETD creation and conversion; Create ETD websites and develop ETD web information pages
      • Provide digital storage and backup for ETDs
      • Provide technical training and support
    • ProQuest/UMI
      • Develop a submission system
      • Offer a range of services, such as a PDF conversion tool and selling hard copies
      • Catalog ETDs and provide MARC records to libraries
      • Ingest ETDs to ProQuest’s subscription databases
    • NDLTD: play an international leadership role in ETD initiatives. Major responsibilities:
      • Develop ETD metadata standards (i.e., ETD-MS)
      • Harvest ETD metadata from ETD providers via OAI
    • ETD Consortia
      • Host ETDs for some institutions
      • Create a submission system
      • Work with graduate schools to develop a publish agreement and submission form, and provide submission support
      • Ingest to its online database
      • Forward ETDs to Proquest/UMI if needed

ETD Archiving and Preservation

  • Institution Administration: responsible for offering long-term preservation commitment. Major responsibilities:
    • Review and approve storage and preservation plans, budget and resource requests, assign personnel/units in charge
    • Incorporate the plan as part of the institutional mission
  • Libraries (Digital Initiative Department): responsible for implementing strategies to ensure long term access of ETD data, associated metadata or URLs. Major responsibilities:
    • Propose ETD archiving and preservation plans; establish preservation policies and procedures; and examine and decide preservation approaches, such as preserving ETDs in mirror sites
    • Organize ETDs: standardize name convention for files and directory structure; versioning control
  • Offices of Information Technologies
    • Provide archiving storage medium, space and ongoing maintenance
    • Supply ETD transformation hardware and software
    • Employ checksum, virus checking and other mechanisms to ensure ETD data integrity
  • Digital Preservation: provide cost effective and long term preservation. General responsibilities:
    • Provide infrastructure
    • Assist with content organization and ingestion
    • Store ETDs in dark archival storages and keep content synchronized  Distribute copies to multiple locations
    • Transform formats when necessary
    • Restore ETDs as needed
    • Provide access services: open, closed

ETD Program Assessment

  • Institution Administration assess
    • ETD program raise school profiles
    • Review ETD submission policy: any change(from optional to mandatory)
    • Align personnel and financial resources
  • Graduate Schools (Administration) develop measures (e.g., exit survey and interview with graduate students) to assess
    • ETD policies: any adjustment
    • ETD submission system (e.g., interface) and workflow: easy, user-friendly, efficient, cost saving, student satisfaction level
    • ETD creation, pre- and post- submission assistance and instruction: helpful
    • Learning improvement for graduate students (e.g., learn legal issues)
    • Improvement for teaching and advising on ETD creation for faculty
  • Libraries (Administration, Digital Initiative Department, Technical Services and Reference Department) use such measures as survey, focus group, Google analytics to assess
    • ETD programs help develop a digital library that contains student work and also contribute to enhance learning, teaching, research and scholarly communication
    • ETD visibility and usability: full-text downloads, visits, page views, search sessions by domain, semester...
    • ETD internal workflow: efficient
    • Any improvement or adjustment for ETD archiving and preservation policies, procedures, and strategies of managing born-digital and retrospective ETDs
  • Offices of Information Technology
    • Provide technical preparation for tracking ETD usability
    • Assess
      • ETD submission, dissemination, archiving and preservation systems: functions, any need for updates, server replacement
      • ETD Websites: user friendly, layout consist, improved navigation...
      • Technical assistance and equipment for different types of computer during ETD creation, submission and access: available and useful
      • ETD discovery tools: increase the findability?
      • ETD long-range storage: adequate?
      • ETD disaster plan: in place?


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