An overview of the electronic theses and dissertations process

Metadata and eResources Librarian, OhioLINK
Monday, April 25, 2016 - 4:47pm

April kicks off the electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) submission season. Submitting an ETD is one of the last requirements for many Ohio students before their Masters or Ph.D. graduation. It is at this point that the students begin to log on to the OhioLINK ETD Center, some sign up for a research ORCID identifier, and submit their ETD to be reviewed and published. While this sounds simple, there is a lot of work that goes into the submission and review process.

First, the Masters or Ph.D. student completes their ETD after a year, or several years, of intensive research which is already quite an accomplishment. The student signs up for an account on the ETD Center and starts the submission process. Each submission consists of completing an online form with various details, such as title and abstract. At the end of the form, the student uploads their ETD PDF file, along with any supplemental materials, and submits it for review. Supplemental materials in the ETD Center can include stage lighting diagrams, music recordings of original compositions, and linguistic interviews from Appalachia.

Once submitted, the ETD then goes to the institutional reviewer for approval. The overall process is the same, but every institution sets its own policies and requirements. Reviewers can be graduate school staff, library staff, and sometimes professors depending on how institutions decide on local workflows. The reviewer looks over each ETD submission, making sure that the local requirements are met and that the form is complete. If there are issues with the submission, the reviewer can either correct them or contact and ask the student to fix them.

When a submission is ready, the reviewer publishes the ETD and it becomes available on the OhioLINK ETD Center, which is open access and can be used by anyone in the world. The ETD Center has a basic and an advanced search as well as browsing capabilities by institution, department, and author. People from more than 200 countries visit the ETD Center each year, leading to millions of downloads, to use and learn from Ohio’s original research. In 2015, ORCID identifiers were added and students were able to include this option in their ETD submissions. The ORCID link displays on the ETD webpage in the ETD Center and allows users to find out more about the students’ research goals, other publications, and track their careers in the future.

Methodist Theological School in Ohio will be using the ETD Center for the first time this year. They will join the other 30 institutions as members, and their students will contribute to the ever-increasing knowledge in the ETD Center. OhioLINK provides the institutions and their students with support and training, especially during the busy submission season that is starting. Throughout the year, OhioLINK works with the OH-TECH developers and the OhioLINK ETD community, including the ETD Council, to ensure that everything works well and to create new enhancements and capabilities that further help the institutions and their students.

At some Ohio institutions, students can submit their ETDs in a computer lab with staff available for questions or to help with issues. I have heard a few stories about group cheers, high-fives, and even tears of joy as students click submit to send their submission to the OhioLINK ETD Center. Please take the time to congratulate new graduates on completing their Masters or Ph.D. It is truly an impressive feat, and they probably do not hear enough praise for all of the hard work and effort that went into their original research.