digital media in dissertations

For personal (rather than work) interests, I was interested in the dissertation written by an acquaintance.

Harmony in Bulgarian music
by Kirilov, Kalin Stanchev, Ph.D., University of Oregon, 2007 , 531 pages; AAT 3294000

I found it in Proquest Dissertations & Theses no problem, and shortly had the PDF. Ain’t the 21st century grand?

But wait, reading the text, it turns out that the dissertation has accompanying CDs. Listed in the table of contents as “POCKET MATERIAL: Three Compact Discs…. Inside Back Cover.”

But of course I can’t get the CD’s from Proquest. That got me started thinking, what if Proquest excepted digital attachments with dissertations? But then I realized they’d have to get into the much of digital archiving, deciding what formats they accept and developing a plan to maintain them as readable. (This might be unreasonable to expect from a business that currently doens’t seem to even bother OCR’ing it’s digital dissertation PDFs, at least this one wasn’t).

Then I wondered if maybe the University of Oregon had a dissertation repository that might actually have those CD’s online. I mean, they’re already digital materials, no need for ‘scanning’, just an easy CD rip. But the likelyhood of this existing didn’t seem high enough to overcome my laziness and send me on an investigation to see if it existed. (Shoudln’t that be easier too?)
I wonder if any universities are making available digital attachments (‘pocket material’) that go with their dissertations.

The technical issues aren’t much, but the legal issues are probably more of a barrier: it’s probably fair use to attach a CD to a single copy of a dissertation regardless of copyright, but not neccesarily to put the same recordings in an online archive, or to make them publically available.

I probably couldn’t even ILL the dissertation in question; most universities won’t send their physical dissertations through ILL, will they? I guess I’d have to go there and listen to it, or track down the author of the dissertation and ask him for a copy (that will get a lot harder in 100 years, naturally).


11 thoughts on “digital media in dissertations

  1. At University of Canterbury, all dissertations have to have a digital copy as well as an electronic copy submitted, and these are made available to anyone on our institutional repository, whence they’re indexed by the national research repository and by Google (and possibly other repositories, I forget). It’s just something people have to do to graduate.

    On the interloans side of things, a lot of universities will ILL a physical copy of the dissertation, it’s just they generally make them for-library-use-only.

  2. Absolutely. The entire dissertation, including all attachments, has to be submitted both in print and in electronic copies. –In searching for policy that says this explicitly I find some pages require updating, but you can see an example.

  3. MPOW is moving toward electronic dissertations in part BECAUSE of this problem. The engineer on the Graduate School committee argued forcefully that many dissertations from his department were essentially useless without their data alongside.

    FWIW, ProQuest is planning to make submitted data available. Someday. So they say.

  4. At Illinois, where we’ve just started an ETD program, we made a point of asking for the appendices that would normally be put on a cd or dvd in the back of the dissertation. So we will be making those available in IDEALS. This was very encouraging news to the School of Music as well as others…

  5. At the U. of Oregon we do not yet have ETD’s but we have a “manual” work around. In this case, we do have a copy in our repository (Googling it works) though without the accompanying material. Some of that is due to our process and some due to technical & copyright issues. The material in our repository and in ProQuest has been scanned from print copies and accompanying material must be dealt with separately.

    We hope in our new submission process the candidate will be able to submit the accompanying material alongside the dissertation and we’ll acquire them for our IR as a part of the that process. As you note there are copyright issues, particularly with performed music, and these are not insignificant.

    We do want to include accompanying material of whatever kind as long as we have the right and ability to do so. However, we will still face technical, policy and administrative issues. Not least of those are declining financial and staff support to “just” make the change.

  6. Thanks Ann, interesting to get the back end from someone at the U of Oregon, although that really just happened to be the example in this (real world) case, I didn’t mean to pick on you.

    Neat that a google search DOES work quite perfectly to find the record in your repo. Wonder how typical that it is for academic repos.

    Also interesting that you do manage to put all Dissertations immediately in public access full text? Repo stuff isnt’ really my world, but I thought a lot of universities were having problems with scholars saying they didn’t want the dissertation publically accessible in the repo, because they planned to make a book out of it that they wanted to sell. Either I was over-estimating the extent of that problem, or U of O has managed it, cool.

  7. We get about a 75% agreement for putting theses or dissertations into Scholars’ Bank. And we have folks deciding later as well, so we do some retrospective scanning.

    As for the Google search. I firmly believe it’s down to our review and enhancement of the supplied metadata. The initial outlay of time and energy is more than rewarded by enhanced discovery.

  8. Yeah, if it takes up front review/enhancement of metadata to get that ‘google juice’, then odds are that most repos _don’t_ have it. Which is unfortunate, that’s probably the only way a typical person is going to happen upon a repo — even me who knows how is too lazy to go track down the U of O repo individually and figure out how to search it for the dissertation I want, which may or may not be there — unless I really really want the dissertation. And most users wouldn’t even think to do that, even if they’re not as lazy as me.

    So that google hit is pretty awesome, nice job.

  9. Actually, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses does offer Supplemental Files with some of the dissertations. If you use the advanced search screen you’ll get an index option of “Supplemental Files” which includes Audio, Code/Script, Data, Image, Other, PDF, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Document, Unknown, Video, and Web Page. So they’re moving in the right direction!

  10. A similar question of ‘supplementary files’ also comes up in publishing these days. A look at dissertations (and other reports) in that vein would be interesting.

    Supplementary materials came up at CrossRef09 (which I heard about via Todd Carpenter who twittered about a CrossRef Technical WG paper by
    the AGU’s Sasha Schwarzman.

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