Benefits and Challenges

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:

Benefits

  • 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.

Challenges

  • 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.

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