The New Jersey Institute of Technology's Electronic Theses & Dissertations Project
Frequently asked questions
"NJIT believes that its role as an educational institution is best served by disclosing to the public all academic research, dissertations and theses developed by students during the course of their studies or employment at the university." NJIT :Academic Policies and Procedures (5/15/2000)
The world of scholarship depends on people making student research available to others. When that is done electronically over the web, more people can get access at lower cost, and more knowledge transfer occurs. This can stimulate education and research. It also can ensure that many people give credit to the student for his/her work, and that the student's research is cited in others' publications. NJIT also benefits through greater University's prestige and attracting new students and faculty in our areas of research.
Currently dissertations are available electronically publicly through UMI. These are available electronically to NJIT users for free but through a fee to others. Currently Theses are available publicly as bound hard copy through the NJIT library and interlibrary loan to other institutions. However, many ETD are not read because of the UMI fee or because of limited hard copy only access. The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) estimates that electronic access multiplies the number of times works are read by a factor of ten or more and that it would greatly aid graduate education if as many as possible of these were made freely available. Since NJIT aims to maximize access, which is especially appropriate for a public university, it will not charge and therefore will also be no royalties.
#2 What is the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD)?
This is a group of over 100 universities working together to build a National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, i.e. collaborating on making their theses and dissertations available freely over the web. This initiative involves training graduate students both to publish electronically and use digital libraries, to better prepare them for their research and future careers. The electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) they produce will be widely accessible, supported by powerful search and browsing software. The ETD participants are research universities with graduate programs (e.g. Brigham Young University, California Institute of Technology, Clemson University, MIT, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, et. al.) whose libraries now keep copies of dissertations, theses, and special reports from undergraduate and graduate students. Copyright generally is retained by the authors, their institution, or both.
#3 Why did NJIT join the NDLTD?
This enables NJIT to piggyback on the work and standards of a powerful group of research libraries to provide better access to NJIT theses and dissertations and also to bring greater research prestige to NJIT. (See their web-site: www.ndltd.org )
The NJIT: Academic Policies and Procedures states that projects, theses and dissertations created by students shall be governed by the following provisions as outlined in NJIT's copyright policy under "Ownership and Disposition of Copyrightable Materials":
Therefore as a result of this, NJIT maintains the non-exclusive right to freely distribute all NJIT theses and dissertations publicly, including electronically over the web.
Currently the student submits 4 paper copies that are sent to a binder (One of these bound copies is made available in the NJIT library). In the future, only one 100% cotton signed original will be stored at NJIT in a preservation box, unbound, and will not be available for public use. In the event that the digital theses/dissertation is ever destroyed or inaccessible, the library staff will rescan from the 100% cotton preservation copy. The Library is committed to preserving the works received, making sure that these will be accessible in the future, regardless of changes in media and standards.
Anyone, who chooses, will be able to freely download, print and bind a theses or dissertation. The fee/money that been dedicated for binding will instead be used for scanning and online access. If a student or academic department wishes to continue to have a bound copy, they can print a copy and send it to the binder at their own cost. Library staff will scan each ETD in order to insure a high quality electronic copy.
The library currently catalogs all NJIT dissertations and theses and the catalog is freely available on the web. In addition UMI, indexes all dissertations. NJIT intends to be able to link the web catalog directly to the ETD so that a searcher can call up the image of the original on their local computer. In order to improve access, NJIT will soon index all abstracts, table of contents and bibliographies. NJIT currently studying how to supply it's citation information to Internet search engines for greater access.
When a student has his/her research published in a conference, book, or journal, he/she usually sign some type of agreement with the publisher. During these negotiations a student may want to discuss matters of timing and revision. A student has the right to negotiate with a publisher to reduce access to the NJIT ETD, as noted below, for a limited amount of time, if they request this as a condition on publishing. However, most publishers consider a thesis or dissertation to be quite different from a journal article or book. Typically an article is much shorter than the chapter or full work, has been revised as a result of the editorial process and peer review, and sometimes has several authors, resulting in many publishers having no concern regarding full access to ETDs.
A student, upon completing his/her theses/dissertation automatically gives NJIT non-exclusive free distribution rights in perpetuity. A student will continue to own his/her own theses/dissertation and may also publish, sell or otherwise distribute it as he/she sees fit. However, two proposed temporary options may be available to students to limit public distribution by NJIT for a period of no longer than two years:
NJIT realizes that some students, especially in the humanities, prepare books related to their theses or dissertations. In general it appears to be the case that electronic release of early versions of a book leads to greater sales of such books. Indeed, having an electronic work made available on the Internet, and telling a publisher that there have been a large number of electronic accesses to that work, may help the student land a book contract. Usually, books that relate to theses or dissertations turn out to be significantly changed as part of the editorial process. This makes it likely that those interested in the student's work will buy their book when it comes out, even if they have reviewed their ETD. However, since publishers vary widely in their policies, it may be wise to share this information and other documents about the ETD initiative with publishers to which the student is likely to submit their work.
#11 How does the eTD project relate to UMI?
UMI (now a division of Bell+Howell) is a corporation in Ann Arbor, Michigan that maintains a microform archive of about 1.5 million dissertations, as well as an online service called Dissertation Abstracts. Most dissertations written in the US are submitted to UMI for archiving on microfilm, from which microform or paper copies can be produced. UMI functions as an on-demand book publisher that eliminates the editorial process. One of the services they offer is to help students regarding copyright and working with publishers. They accept electronic submissions as well as paper submissions. The latter are scanned in and OCR'ed (optical character recognition). UMI makes available online electronic versions of all works they receive after 1996. Few masters theses are sent to UMI. The ETD initiative aims to handle the hundreds of thousands of theses that UMI does not receive each year. UMI has a representative on the Steering Committee and on the Technical Advisory Committee for the NDLTD. More information about UMI can be found at their web-site www.umi.com.
If you have any questions please contact the ETD Team, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Created 4/12/01; updated Jan-20-2003