ETD Guide/Introduction

The UNESCO Guide for Creating Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) aims to help all those interested in projects and programs involving ETDs. To the extent possible, it has the eventual goal of aiding all students at all universities to be able to create electronic documents and to use digital libraries. It has particular focus on the emerging genre of ETDs, which should enhance the quality, content, form, and impact of scholarly communication that involves students engaged in research. It should help universities to develop their local infrastructure, especially regarding electronic publishing and digital libraries, which in turn build upon networking, computing, multimedia, and related technologies. In so doing, it should promote the sharing of knowledge locked up in universities, and the collaboration of universities spanning across all countries and continents, from North to South, from East to West, from developing to developed, from public to private, and from large to small. The ultimate effect may be one of the world's largest sustainable programs for diffusion of knowledge, across all fields, including science, technology, and culture.

This work should be of interest to diverse audiences. Its various sections (see discussion in section 1.6) are aimed to address the needs of universities (including administrators and faculty), students (including those who wish to create ETDs as well as those who wish to make use of already-created works), and those involved in training or setting up ETD projects or programs. Ample technical details are covered to support the needs of students wishing to apply multimedia methods to enhance their ability to communicate complex results, as well as the requirements of staff building a local support infrastructure to help such students.

This work is a living document that will continue to be updated in connection with the work of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD, It was born as a result of the support provided by UNESCO in grants given to Virginia Tech and University of Montreal. It was prepared by an international team of faculty and staff; coordinated by Shalini Urs. Its organization and content are the result of the editorial labor of Joseph Moxley. Its availability in a broad range of languages is the result of teams of translators, some funded in part by UNESCO, and others volunteering their assistance.

While the development of a comprehensive worldwide program of ETDs of necessity builds upon an enormous range of knowledge and experience, it is hoped that this work will suffice as an initial Guide. We hope that those who read some or all of the sections contained herein will build upon the foundation laid out in the Introduction, so they understand the key ideas and are energized to move forward to advance the cause. In keeping with the goals of NDLTD, we hope that people around the globe who are interested in ETDs will help each other, and together transform graduate education, promote understanding, vastly expand access to new discoveries, and empower the next generation of researchers to become effective leaders of the Information Age.

Next Section: What are ETDs