ETD Guide/Students/How to prepare an ETD? (approaches)

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ETDs are prepared to facilitate scholarly communication. They are vehicles for transmitting the research results of a student, in the most effective way, to each person with interest. Truly effective communication requires students to become facile with tools and methods of expression so their ideas and findings can be clearly conveyed. At the same time, since communication takes place across gaps in space and time, it is important that the form chosen for an ETD be understood in different places and in future times, as typically occurs when standard representation schemes are used. Thus, at a 1994 meeting of ten universities discussing ETDs in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, it was recommended that ETDs be prepared in both a rendered and a descriptive form, like PDF and SGML. The former ensures that a reader sees things the way the author desires, which may be of particular importance with regard to mathematics or artistic works. The latter instead emphasizes the logical structure and content (as is done with HTML pages) and makes it easier to precisely specify the target of a search. However, no authors write using tools that store their works only in PDF, and few authors directly create SGML documents. Rather, they employ tools they select based on cost, availability, popularity, familiarity, efficiency, or other criteria. For many, the choice is a package like Microsoft Word that may have been bundled with their computer. For others, like mathematicians who need to work with proofs and equations, the main decision may be what representation to use (e.g., LaTeX), with subsidiary decision regarding what editor or other special tool can best manipulate LaTeX files. Such choices may be discipline specific, may be based on what is commonly used by faculty and students who are in a particular group, or who use a particular computing environment. If there is no clear choice imposed, then a decision could be based on the information provided in subsequent sections of this Guide. These cover, in particular:

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