ETD Guide/Students/Overview: writing with word processors and structured editors

Details regarding a variety of approaches to use in preparing ETDs are found in subsequent parts of section 3.2. In all cases, there is a writing phase and a conversion phase, so that an archivable form is produced. The writing phase should allow authors to efficiently and effectively capture their research results in a form that will be understandable by others. The conversion phase should take the written work and use it to create PDF and/or SGML/XML.

Authors preparing an ETD must learn about electronic publishing to succeed in their task. In the future, costs may decrease on structured editors and other software that directly yields SGML/XML. Meanwhile, a small number may invest (their money and time) in such as SoftQuad’s Author/Editor. But today, most authors learn about word processing, since it is commonly used for other writing tasks, such as letters, reports, papers, articles, and books. Word is the most common word processor. Word Perfect is somewhat popular. FrameMaker is a more costly package, harder to learn, but quite powerful, and used in professional writing efforts. LaTeX is popular with mathematicians, scientists, and engineers who deal with mathematical notation, proofs, equations, etc.

From word processing systems such as these, it is relatively easy to prepare PDF files. It also is possible to prepare SGML or XML. However, this latter typically requires a good deal of pre-planning, work on conversion, and final editing/checking to make sure the archival form correctly conveys the author’s intent.

Some of these efforts yield metadata for ETDs as a byproduct, either directly or in connection with a conversion effort. Thus, if “TEI-lite” (drawn from work on the Text Encoding Initiative) is employed, metadata can be produced from the document by analyzing the header portion. Generally, however, authors prepare a metadata record for their ETD by filling in some type of form, entering in suitable information into a database from which the desired representation can be generated as needed. The metadata, as well as other forms, may carry a description regarding copyright and other intellectual property right management issues.

In addition to writing, authors may convey their results using multimedia devices. Special tools are often employed to prepare graphic aids, animations, or musical compositions. Other tools support conversion of photographs, video, music, and other formats. In some cases, multimedia content can be included with the rest of the work, as when images are included in a PDF file. Regardless, international standards for the various media types, as well as their combinations, should be followed so archivable works result; otherwise these parts of an ETD may become lost to interested readers in the distant future. We aim to avoid such losses whenever possible, through training, following best practices, and building upon recent work on ETDs, as documented below.

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