Graduate School
Graduate School
Current Students Academic Support

ECU's Transition to Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs)

Fundamental to the mission of a comprehensive university is the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Graduate students, involved in discovery (i.e., research, scholarship, artistry, and other forms of creativity) activities, generate intellectual products that are designed to extend, or at least add to, the corpus of knowledge that defines a discipline. The culmination of the students’ efforts is usually represented by a thesis or dissertation. Historically, a printed thesis or dissertation would be archived with limited exposure to anyone not in close proximity to the university’s library. Furthermore, components of discovery that are not amenable to a printed format had no outlet for dissemination.

As a result of remarkable technological developments, the early 21st century is marked by, among other things, the ability to digitally express any type of intellectual discovery in a form that is conducive to electronic viewing, storage, and dissemination. Electronic media is allowing information and knowledge to be accessible to a global community in a more timely, effective, and efficient method than was historically possible. The potential for including music, video, and other forms of media to a document is enhancing the value of the student’s work.

An initiative is currently underway at ECU to transition to electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). Rather than submitting a paper dissertation to the Graduate School, students will have the opportunity of electronically submitting an Adobe Acrobat PDF file via a Web interface. In the spring of 2007, an ETD Task Force was established by the Dean of Graduate Studies to plan and oversee the transition. Beginning with the fall 2008 semester, the Graduate School, ProQuest/UMI and Joyner Library will be collaborating on a pilot project in which a limited number of departments will submit ETDs in lieu of paper versions.

Commencing in fall 2008, workshops will be scheduled to introduce the submission software to students and interested faculty. Times, dates, and venues will be posted on the Graduate School Web site. The option of electronic submission will be available to all graduate students during spring 2009. For a one year phase-in period, students will have the option to submit paper or electronic versions of their documents. It is projected that by spring 2010, all degree candidates will submit their theses/dissertations electronically.

ETD Task Force Report 

ETD Task Force Status Report to the Graduate Administrative Board
August 22, 2007

The ETD Task Force has been charged with developing processes and procedures for transitioning from print to mandatory electronic format for theses and dissertations (ETDs). As recognized in a recent EDUCAUSE report, two of the main advantages of ETDs are increased visibility of scholarship produced at the university and the ability to include non-text materials, such as raw research data, video, audio, images, and simulations. Publication of theses and dissertations in electronic format is faster, cheaper and requires less storage space. Wide knowledge of good quality theses and dissertations strengthens the faculty, the graduate programs and the university. An ETD program also helps educate students about the electronic publishing landscape, format standards, and the legal principles of information use and dissemination.

The ETD Task Force recommends that dissertations written at East Carolina University continue to be submitted for inclusion in the Proquest Dissertations & Theses database, and that theses also be submitted to Proquest. The Task Force recommends adoption of the free Proquest online submission tool to facilitate this process. In addition, the ETD Task Force recommends that students be required to submit a copy of their ETD to the ECU Libraries for inclusion in the proposed ECU Institutional Repository and/or the library online catalog.

The Task Force proposes the following schedule for the transition from print to electronic format:

Fall 2007: Develop processes and procedures Seek input from the Graduate Administrative Board on policy decisions and the best methods for informing faculty and gathering their input

Spring 2008: Set up online submission process with Proquest Have local web site support in place Conduct information sessions and workshops

Fall 2008: Pilot or phase-in program for 1-5 departments/programs

Spring 2009: Optional online submission for all departments/programs

Fall 2009: Optional online submission for all departments/programs

Spring 2010: Online submission mandatory

ETD Task Force Recommendations (Approved by GSAB, April 2008) 

  • Adoption of Proquest online submission system
  • Begin submitting theses/dissertations to Proquest for inclusion in their digital database
  • Allow students choice of embargo and length: from 6 months to two years
  • Require students to submit a copy of their ETD to the ECU Libraries for inclusion in the ECU Institutional Repository and/or library online catalog rather than having a bound copy in the library. Students will grant ECU a limited, non-exclusive royalty-free license to reproduce their thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, in electronic form and make available to the general public at no charge.
  • Paper copies not required; department copy choice of department.
  •  Original paper copy of signature page bearing committee signatures required by the Graduate School; signatures not to be included as part of electronic submission.

Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Task Force Members:

Dr. Martha Alligood, School of Nursing
Jeff Coghill, Laupus Library
Dr. Monica Hough, School of Allied Health
Daniel Hudock, Graduate Student Council
Janice S. Lewis, Joyner Library
Dr. Vivian Mott, College of Education
Dr. Belinda Patterson (Chair), Graduate School
Dr. Heather Ries, College of Arts & Sciences
Dr. Marty Roop, Brody School of Medicine
Dr. Art Rouse, College of Education