The benefits offered to graduate students who submit their research study to an ETD digital library and those who access and use ETDs as a resource for research and practice are endless. However, challenges also exist. Benefits and challenges are as follows:
- ETDs and open access ETD digital libraries offer immediate and worldwide access to state of the science research that may otherwise not be disseminated.
- ETDs provide a technologically advanced medium that permit students to present information in ways that are richer, more appealing and less monotonous than traditional theses or dissertations.
- Multimedia, sound, video and hypertext links can be included to expand on the expression of ideas and enhance the research presentation.
- Complex tables, illustrations and other visual images can be easily inserted.
- Students can include their ETD as a publication on their CVs and can, cite and include the link to their ETD in future publications and cover letters to potential employers.
- Students can access ETDs to gain in depth understanding of guiding theoretical frameworks and methods used, including access to detailed data sets.
- Online ETDs are more visible than printed theses so ownership of content is more easily proved and detection of plagiarism is far easier.
- Many universities require their students to format ETDs in the same strict fashion as is seen in traditional theses or dissertations; thus, preventing creative use of modern technology and expression of ideas.
- There is no single database of ETDs so a range of sources need to be searched.
- University libraries do not always permit the public or those not affiliated with the University to access their ETD collections.
- In some cases, students’ ETDs are embargoed after graduation for one to two years or until the research has been published in a professional journal.
- Students that include recently submitted or already published manuscripts in their ETDs may have to negotiate with a journal editor.