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What are ETDs?

The term ETD refers to a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation that is archived electronically. Most ETDs are traditional texts that are archived in Adobe's  PDF (portable document format). Increasingly, though, graduate students are experimenting with new software tools that enable them to incorporate streaming multimedia such as video files of interviews and communities.


Why must I submit electronically?

By preparing an ETD and submitting it electronically you learn about electronic document preparation and about digital libraries. These skills will help prepare you for your future role in the Information Age, whether you teach, research, or use the research results of others.


Furthermore, you may be able to better convey the message of your thesis or dissertation in an electronic as opposed to a paper document. Thus, you can easily have color diagrams, color images, hypertext links, and even include audio, video, animations, spreadsheets, databases, simulations, virtual reality worlds, etc. in your appendices.


By submitting electronically you also allow your university to fulfill more economically its responsibilities of recording and archiving your thesis or dissertation. This is a key responsibility of the university, that is easier and less costly (in this time of tight budgets) to fulfill when the work flow involves electronic documents.


Note that electronic submission is totally separate from electronic access. So, please realize that regardless of what is arranged in terms of access to your work, electronic submission is required.


Where can I convert my files to PDF?

Throughout the HKU Libraries, installed with serveral different softwares that can create PDFs.


How will people be able to access my ETD?

If you have not requested that your ETD be blocked from access, which we recommend (see below for reasons, and for discussion of other options), we will work to make your ETD as easily available worldwide as possible. First, we allow access over the WWW, so people can link to our collection for browsing, and even link directly to your ETD. Second, in Find@HKUL, we will make a bibliographic record, and input the URL for your ETD in that record. Then, anyone worldwide searching Find@HKUL and retrieving that record would also be able to view your ETD. Third, your ETD will be added to The HKU Scholar Hub, and made retrievable there by author, title, subject headings, and keyword search on the fulltext of your ETD. Fourth, we will create a DOI number that will further aid in discovery and citing your thesis.


Why should I make my ETD freely available?

The world of scholarship depends on people making their research available to others. When that is done electronically, more people can get access at lower cost, and more knowledge transfer occurs. This can stimulate education and research. It also can ensure that many people give credit to you for your work, and that your research is cited in others' publications, which adds to your prestige and can help your future advancement. We log statistics page linked to your thesis.


Before theses and dissertations were available electronically, not many were read. Electronic access multiplies the number of times works are read by a factor of ten or more. Since you spent a great deal of time on your research, it should encourage you to know that others are reading that work. Your literature review may guide others, and your results may save others the time of redoing your study.


With electronic theses and dissertations, students and universities can 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. Since we aim to maximize access, we will not charge and so will not have any royalties to share.


What if I want to write a book related to my thesis or dissertation?

We realize that some students, especially in the humanities, prepare books related to their theses or dissertations. In those cases we strongly recommend that you approach likely presses, and ask for advice on whether to request HKU to restrict access to your ETD or not.


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.


In some cases it appears 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 telling a publisher that there have been a large number of electronic accesses to that work, may help you land a book contract.


However, since publishers vary widely in their policies, it may be wise to share this document and other documents about the ETD initiative with publishers to which you are likely to submit your work. For example, if they consider the market of your work to be very small, they may not want to publish it if it has been made accessible worldwide.


What do I need to know about signing agreements with publishers?

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 that agreement carefully before signing, making 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, say so.


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 these negotiations you may want to discuss matters of timing and revision. You have the right to request HKU to disallow online access to the fulltext of your ETD for a period of five years. You may wish to do this, if the publisher requests this as a condition to publishing your article. However, most publishers consider a thesis or dissertation to be quite different from a journal article. Typically the article is much shorter than the chapter or full work, has been revised as a result of the editorial process and peer review, and sometimes has several authors, resulting in many publishers having no concern regarding fully accessible ETDs.


How will I benefit from having an ETD?

Having an online ETD,

  • helps build your career
    • Timely publication makes your up-to-the-minute research instantly available. Upon publication, ETDs immediately become part of the NDLTD and are available for use by anyone having access to the Internet.
    • Visibility allows people inside and outside of the academic arena to see and use your research. Just having an ETD can multiply the number of times your work is read. This exposure increases the possibilities that your work will be cited in others' publications, which adds to your prestige and can help your future advancement
    • Accessibility makes reading and using your work easy. Instead of having to request and await the arrival of printed copy, your work immediately displays on a computer screen and can be printed on demand.
  • helps you be more creative
    • The technology allows you to present your work in new and different ways. For example, in your research you can include audio, video, and animations. You can add spreadsheets, databases, and simulations. You can even create virtual reality worlds.
    • In the process, you learn about electronic document preparation and digital libraries. These skills help prepare you for your future role in the Information Age, whether you teach, do research, or use the research results of others.
  • highlights your familiarity with technology
    • In a changing world, being part of the information revolution is becoming increasingly important. Having an ETD shows your awareness of this fact and your comfort with this emerging academic factor.
  • makes verifying your degree(s) easier
    • Proving your degree can be as easy as providing a prospective institution with a link to your thesis in HKU Scholars Hub.


How do faculty benefit from ETDs?

  • Each student could develop a bibliography reflecting his or her work, and a collective bibliography would emerge encompassing all of a faculty member's advisees.
  • A student's acquired expertise will not completely leave with that student but will remain to help bootstrap new students (and new interests of the faculty member).
  • The efforts of students working with a faculty member would be known to a wider audience.  This would provide publicity and enhanced visibility for the student and that student's lab and major professor.
  • Students who know how to use tools, such as Microsoft Word's tracking or commenting features, are better prepared for future e-publishing; they can use these tools for future collaboration and mentoring, which should save the faculty member time during the reviews and revisions.


How do universities benefit from ETDs?

The quality of a university is reflected by the quality of its students’ intellectual products.  Theses and dissertations reflect an institution's ability to lead students and support original work. In time, as digital libraries of ETDs become more commonplace, students and faculty will make judgments regarding the quality of a university by reviewing its digital library.  Universities that incorporate new literacy tools, such as streaming multimedia, will attract students who hope to produce innovative work.


Thanks to the ETD initiatives at VirginiaTech, University of South Florida, and West Virginia University for kind permission to re-use their instructional materials.