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In March 2017, the company updated its ETD Administrator thesis submission system to ensure that authors do not attempt to register their copyright for a dissertation comprising publications for which copyright is already held by journal publishers: [T]he author must now first acknowledge that they are the sole author and owner of the entire graduate work being offered for registration.The copyright registration step has been changed to explain that requirement to the author, provide a link to examples of rejected registration requests, and ask authors to acknowledge the requirement before registering.By engaging in the ETD preparation process, scholarly communication librarians have an opportunity to help graduate students navigate the complex infrastructure of scholarly publishing and offer valuable guidance that will be useful throughout their academic careers.
The question of how to handle such dissertations is also a recurring topic on the National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations ETD forum email list, with requests for policy guidance in this area appearing every few months.
Those of us who work regularly with students submitting their dissertations recognize the teaching opportunities presented when students are confronted with the personal consequences of copyright transfers.
Whatever one calls it, the practice is overwhelmingly found in the STEM disciplines, where students tend to publish coauthored papers with their lab groups prior to graduation.
A different, but related, practice is the “manuscript” option, in which a group of publication-ready papers form the dissertation, with the expectation that students will submit them to publishers after graduation.
The dissertation itself is not a unified construct and has been in a perpetual state of “crisis” since at least 1960, when Bernard Berelson described shifting notions of originality and significance in graduate training among the “word disciplines” and the “data disciplines.” Is the completion of the dissertation a guarantee of a scholar’s ability to carry out research, leading to an original and significant contribution to the field?
Or is it a promissory note—a certification of research and analytical skills to be put to future use?These decisions are typically made by the graduate school, but consultation with the library is key to maintaining the integrity of the scholarly record and ensuring that administrators understand any implications for public access to the work.Including previously published material in dissertations also presents challenges for Pro Quest.As published works proliferate within dissertations, our workflows will need to adapt in unexpected ways, from how we prepare students to how we make their works accessible.What would it mean for libraries to approach dissertations as a portfolio of graduate publications?) is the official newsmagazine and publication of record of the Association of College & Research Libraries, providing articles on the latest trends and practices affecting academic and research libraries.Scholarly Communication Roxanne Shirazi Adapting to changing publication practices among graduate students Roxanne Shirazi is dissertation research librarian at The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, email: [email protected] © 2018 Roxanne Shirazi hen I first began working with electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), the conversation in libraries appeared to revolve around open access and publication embargoes.Almost 60 years later, Berelson’s question would receive conflicting answers among academics today.Recent framings of the dissertation have portrayed it as: “a hazing ritual,” “a credentialing device,” “a book’s first draft,” and, more ambitiously, the “wellspring of scholarly communication and of the higher education enterprise itself.” Regardless of the mutability of the dissertation’s purpose and any doubts about its significance, since the 19th century, American universities have required some form of publication for these works; indeed, the rise of university presses was a response to this requirement to publish dissertations.Many students now include their own previously published work in a dissertation, requiring instruction in publication contracts and copyright transfer agreements at the point of submission to the graduate school.There are repercussions to publishing as a graduate student for which our institutions are not well prepared, and to which we could apply our expertise.