Gathering data about ETDs can be done through online surveys and log file analysis. Online surveys can also be used to gather data from graduate student authors submitting ETDs and from ETD readers accessing them. An easy to use online survey system is available to NDLTD members at http://lumiere.lib.vt.edu/surveys/ Ask graduate student ETD authors a variety of questions about the process as well as about support services and use this data to improve resources and services. Query readers to discover their reasons for accessing ETDs, the results of their use of ETDs, as well as to improve digital library resources and services.
Questions for student authors may be designed to improve the process of preparing and submitting electronic documents. Sample questions might include:
- While preparing your ETD, where did you find answers to your questions?
- If you consulted the VT ETD Web site, please indicate if the site was useful.
- If you attended an ETD workshop, please indicate if you found the workshop useful.
- If you used a [particular] computer lab, please indicate if the staff was helpful.
- How many ETDs did you consult while preparing your ETD?
- Compared to what you expected, how difficult was it to create a PDF file?
- My computer is a [PC, Mac, Unix, other].
- Where were you when you submitted your ETD?
- Compared to what you expected, how difficult was it to submit your thesis/dissertation electronically?
- Within the next 1–2 years, what do you intend to publish from your ETD?
- If you restricted access to your VT ETD, on what did you base your decision?
- Please include any comments or questions that you have about ETDs.
In the online environment, usage is similar to but not equal to library circulation and re shelving statistics. Nevertheless, to report usage, institutions should also report numbers of available ETDs so that downloads can be viewed in the context of what was available at a given point in time.
It would be beneficial if all libraries providing access to ETDs would capture and report similar data about usage, but at this time we are not doing this. Gail McMillan has periodically surveyed and reported numbers of ETDs available from the NDLTD. Her data is based on institutions reporting numbers of ETDs available through their institutions, but the NDLTD has not begun to report institutional use of or access to their ETD collections.
Next Section: Measurement in Related Contexts