NDLTD runs the Web site http://www.theses.org/ (also under the alias http://www.dissertations.org/) as a central clearinghouse for access to ETDs. This site points to various other locations that support portions of the worldwide holdings of ETDs. For example, the largest corporate archive, with over 1.5 million entries, is managed by UMI and has most doctoral dissertations from USA and Canada, as well as most masters’ theses from Canada, in microfilm form with metadata available as a searchable collection through Dissertation Abstracts. Since 1997 UMI has scanned new submissions (originally from microfilm, later directly from paper) and made the page images available through PDF files. With over 100,000 ETDs accessible through subscription or direct payment mechanisms, UMI hosts the largest single collection of both electronic and microfilm TDs.
Other corporations as well as local, regional, national, and international groups associated with NDLTD have Web sites too, such as http://www.cybertheses.org/ for the International Francophone project or http://www.dissonline.org/ for the German Dissertation online project. In addition, a number of WWW search engines have indexed some of the ETD collections available so this genre is included in general Web searches.
Some other schemes allow access to ETD collections. Using Z39.50, the “information retrieval protocol”, for example, the Virginia Tech ETD collection can be accessed through suitable clients or from some library catalog systems. OCLC’s WorldCat service, with over 20 million catalog records, has an estimated 3.5 million entries for TDs. Perhaps most promising is that the global as well as regional and local metadata information about ETDs may become widely accessible through the Open Archives Initiative (http://www.openarchives.org/).
The German "Dissertation Online" project was undertaken by the Initiative of Information and Communication of the German Learned Societies (http://www.iuk-initiative.org/index.shtml.en). This project was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) for 21/2 years (April 1998 - October 2000). The final conference took place in Berlin from October 30–31, 2000 (http://www.dissonline.de/abschlusstagung/index.html). The project worked at an integrative level and aimed towards a German wide initiative to bring scholarly publications, such as dissertations, diploma and master theses which are usually lost in libraries, online. Through the joint work of 6 academic disciplines (mathematics, physics, chemistry, educational sciences, computer science and libraries such as the State and University Library Lower Saxony (SUB Göttingen) and the German National Library (DDB: Die Deutsche Bibliothek)) which took place at several locations (Duisburg, Oldenburg, Erlangen, Berlin Computing Centre and School of Education, Göttingen, Frankfurt) the project was highly successful in Germany and elsewhere. A tight cooperation with the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), set up by Edward Fox from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA, was established.
The developments and the movement "DissOnline.de" resulted in establishing a bureau for coordination (Koordinierungsstelle DissOnline) at the German National Library (DDB). All German efforts taken are now coordinated and all developments (tools, guidelines, etc.) are collected by this bureau.
The main tasks of the original project still reflect the problem areas that have to be taken into consideration while setting up local, national or global projects on electronic theses and dissertations:
- Legal Issues
- Document formats
- Library issues
The results of these different subtasks are integrated into the different sections that follow for students, universities, technical issues and trainers.
Additional Thesis Collections:
- PhysDis, a large collection of Physics Theses of Universities across Europe
- TheO, a collection of theses of different fields of 43 Universities in
Germany, in as much as the Theses do contain Metadata
- MPRESS, a large collection of European Mathematical Theses. which contains as a subset
- Index nationaux prépublications, thèses et habilitations, a collection of theses in France in Mathematics
Next Section: Brief history of ETD activities: 1987-2007