ETD Guide/Introduction/Increasing readership of ETDs, communicating research results

Once a student embarks upon the process of creating an ETD, this student will be assured of a large increase in the number of readers. Such an audience emerges when ETDs are locatable because of searches using popular search engines and/or are available for other students as well as more advanced researchers to draw upon. Many look for the large bibliographies and comprehensive literature reviews found in ETDs. Others look for in-depth discussion of research methods. Some seek data sets to use for follow-up studies. A growing number of faculty use ETD collections as reference sources, saving space on their shelves or time required to walk to a library. Some also refer to ETDs in classes or in homework assignments, especially where there are important results and/or clear expressions of concepts and ideas.

Through such ETDs, students can communicate more effectively. Color figures are much easier to attain, in many situations, than those limited to black and white. Complex tables can be built, with sorting and subtotals incorporated, because of software tools. Spreadsheets or simulations help readers gain hands-on familiarity with data and analysis, promoting a deeper understanding. For those studying phenomena that could be characterized with color photos (using digital cameras or scanners), digital video sequences, audio files, medical images, or other digital representations. Thus, expanded and more effective communication of research results can be aided by usage of ETDs.

Once a student embarks upon the process of creating an ETD, that student can be assured of a one or more order of magnitude increase in the number of readers. Such an audience emerges when ETDs are locatable because of searches using popular search engines and/or are available for other students as well as more advanced researchers to draw upon. Many look for the large bibliographies and comprehensive literature reviews found in ETDs. Others look for in-depth discussion of research methods. Some seek data sets to use for follow-up studies. A growing number of faculty use ETD collections as reference sources, saving space on their shelves or time required to walk to a library. Some also refer to ETDs in classes, or in homework assignments, especially where there are important results and/or clear expressions of concepts and ideas.

At Virginia Tech, for example, many popular theses and dissertations are available to the public electronically. In 1996, there were 25,829 requests for ETD abstracts and 4,600 requests for ETDs themselves; by 1999 (January-August), there were over 143,056 requests for abstracts and 244,987 requests for ETDs. As of October 1999, the most popular ETD at VT had been requested over 75,000 times (see VT's download statistics at http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/data/pdatah.htm).


Next Section: Helping universities develop digital library services & infrastructure

Last modified on 18 June 2009, at 20:04