A continuing topic of discussion in the ETD community, including Graduate School administrators, research faculty, and librarians, is the question of “prior publication.” That is, whether publishers and editors of scholarly journals view electronic theses and dissertations that are available on the Internet and through convenient Web browsers as being published because they are so readily and widely available.
John Eaton, Dean at Virginia Tech’s Graduate School, surveyed graduate student alumni in 1998 and 1999 and he asked about publishing articles derived from their ETDs. One hundred percent of those who had successfully published had not had any problems getting published because their theses or dissertations were online and readily available on the Internet. By looking at the results Joan Dalton’s 1999 survey of publishers and Nan Seaman’s 2000 survey as well as at Eaton’s surveys of graduate student alumni, the ready availability of ETDs on the Internet does not deter the vast majority of publishers from publishing articles derived from graduate research already available on the Internet. [See "Do ETDs Deter Publishers? Coverage from the 4th International Symposium on ETDs," Gail McMillan. College and Research Libraries News, v. 62, no. 6 (June 2001): 620-621. http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/staff/gailmac/publications/pubrsETD2001.html]
Several publishers have also attested to this and these statements are available in a variety of sources such as http://www.ndltd.org/publshrs/index.html. (others?) At the Cal Tech ETD 2001 conference, Keith Jones from Elsevier stated emphatically that his company encourages its authors to link their articles in Elsevier journals to their personal Web sites and also authorizes faculty members’ departments to provide such links. Jones reported that Elsevier understands the importance of getting new authors such as graduate students to publish in his journals early in their careers because they are then likely to continue to publish with the same journal. He also pointed out the publishing in an Elsevier Science journal is an important source of validation for academics so that the subsequent availability of those articles from other non-profit and educational sources is not a threat.
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