Making Visualization Work for Institutional Repositories: Information Visualization as a means to browse electronic theses and dissertations

Authors : Leila Belle Sterman, Susan Borda


An attractive repository with clear, well-structured and accessible content can be a powerful recruitment and publicity tool for administrators, fundraisers, and others trying to bolster support for repositories.

Digitizing ETDs is a lengthy and often arduous process. Once that process is completed, it is often a victory that suffices. As a result, collections frequently receive no further treatment. We demonstrate the benefits of visualizing repository content.


The goal of the project was to create an interactive visualization to make our newly digitized theses and dissertations more discoverable.

By leveraging the institutional organization of College, Department and Year of Graduation, we visualized data to help users understand ETD content as a whole and find specific items more easily.


The process begins with data cleanup involving extracting and normalizing repository metadata, then the data is processed and the Data-Driven Documents (D3) JavaScript library is used to generate the actual visualization.

Benefits of Visualizations to Users: The visualization allows for the sort of happenstance discovery of materials that are celebrated about shelf browsing and a way to compare the productivity of each college and department at our university. It also illustrates our institution’s changes in emphasis over time.


Visualizations have vast potential for creating engaging user interfaces for digital library content. We would like to explore how people are using the visualization as we move forward with this process to visualize multiple collections.

URL : Making Visualization Work for Institutional Repositories: Information Visualization as a means to browse electronic theses and dissertations


Open Access and the Graduate Author: A Dissertation Anxiety Manual

Authors : Jill Cirasella, Polly Thistlethwaite

The process of completing a dissertation is stressful—deadlines are scary, editing is hard, formatting is tricky, and defending is terrifying. (And, of course, postgraduate employment is often uncertain.)

Now that dissertations are deposited and distributed electronically, students must perform yet another anxiety-inducing task: deciding whether they want to make their dissertations immediately open access (OA) or, at universities that require OA, coming to terms with openness.

For some students, mostly in the humanities and some of the social sciences, who hope to transform their dissertations into books, OA has become a bogeyman, a supposed saboteur of book contracts and destroyer of careers.

This chapter examines the various access-related anxieties that plague graduate students. It is a kind of diagnostic and statistical manual of dissertation anxieties—a « Dissertation Anxiety Manual, » if you will—describing anxieties surrounding book contracts, book sales, plagiarism, juvenilia, the ambiguity of the term online, and changes in scholarly research and production.


Making Student Research Data Discoverable: A Pilot Program Using Dataverse


The support and curation of research data underlying theses and dissertations are an opportunity for institutions to enhance their ETD collections.

This article describes a pilot data archiving service that leverages Emory University’s existing Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) program.

Description of program

This pilot service tested the appropriateness of Dataverse, a data repository, as a data archiving and access solution for Emory University using research data identified in Emory University’s ETD repository, developed the legal documents necessary for a full implementation of Dataverse on campus, and expanded outreach efforts to meet the research data needs of graduate students.

This article also situates the pilot service within the context of Emory Libraries and explains how it relates to other library efforts currently underway.

Next steps

The pilot project team plans to seek permission from alumni whose data were included in the pilot to make them available publicly in Dataverse, and the team will revise the ETD license agreement to allow this type of use.

The team will also automate the ingest of supplemental ETD research data into the data repository where possible and create a workshop series for students who are creating research data as part of their theses or dissertations.

URL : Making Student Research Data Discoverable: A Pilot Program Using Dataverse


E-Dissertations: Access and Restrictions (EDAR) Survey 2014 Report

« European and American studies on electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) reveal that one part of digital PhD theses, even if not confidential, is limited to on-campus access and/or under embargo. A French-German research team conducted a survey with a small sample of academic libraries and graduate schools in France and Germany (16,508 theses) on the situation and tendencies from 2009 to 2012. Digital theses represent 38% of the whole sample. 84% digital theses are Open Access while 5% are limited to on-campus access, 2% are under embargo and 1% are confidential. For 9%, data on accessibility are missing. The 84% OA digital theses represent 32% of all theses (print and digital). The survey reveals also differences between France and Germany, especially: France: The part of OA theses compared to all theses increased from 12% of the PhD theses in 2009 to 24% of the PhD theses in 2012. There is an increase of embargoed PhD theses as enforced by the libraries, from 1% of the ETD in 2009 to 7% in 2012. On-campus access restrictions of ETD increased from 5% in 2009 to 28% in 2012. Germany: The number of OA theses increased from 41% of all theses in 2009 to 47% in 2012. Furthermore, very few libraries reported access restrictions. There are however some individual cases – less than 1% – where the author asked for restrictions because of confidential material etc. Following the EDAR project, the project team prepares a proposal for the European Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. The project « Electronic Theses and Dissertations for Open Access » (ETD4OA) will support the coordination of European infrastructures and open access (OA) policies in the field of electronic theses and dissertations. Together with stakeholders and OA initiatives, it will address barriers and access restrictions, and it will take actions (active communication, recommendations, advice) to promote and develop input, openness and impact of ETD in existing open repositories and portals. »


The evolution of open access to research and data in Australian higher education

« Open access (OA) in the Australian tertiary education sector is evolving rapidly and, in this article, we review developments in two related areas: OA to scholarly research publications and open data. OA can support open educational resource (OER) efforts by providing access to research for learning and teaching, and a range of actors including universities, their peak bodies, public research funding agencies and other organisations and networks that focus explicitly on OA are increasingly active in these areas in diverse ways. OA invites change to the status quo across the higher education sector and current momentum and vibrancy in this area suggests that rapid and significant changes in the OA landscape will continue into the foreseeable future. General practices, policies, infrastructure and cultural changes driven by the evolution of OA in Australian higher education are identified and discussed. The article concludes by raising several key questions for the future of OA research and open data policies and practices in Australia in the context of growing interest in OA internationally. »

URL : The evolution of open access to research and data in Australian higher education

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Electronic theses and dissertations in CRIS

« Electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) represent a significant part of academic publications. They contain valuable information about academic research, in particular on research projects, institutions and experts. This information can be useful for the management of expertise and skills of persons and organisations in the current research information systems (CRIS). The paper provides an overview on projects and initiatives linking ETD and CRIS infrastructures, with empirical insight from existing systems in Slovakia, Iran and France. The paper reviews also the way the Common European Research Information Format (CERIF) integrates the specific information related to ETD (results, links, second level elements, semantics…). The discussion puts the focus on metadata, interoperability and complementary material (data). The findings allow for the framing of some recommendations on the integration of ETD in CRIS. »


Knowledge Management and Electronic Theses and Dissertations in Libraries: Perils and Solutions in Indian Perspective

« ICT is a great facilitator for Knowledge Management. ICT enables creation of digital repositories for sharing knowledge transcending many limitations. Digital Repository (DR) is one of the components of KM in Libraries. DR of in-house research is becoming a priority item in universities and research institutions. The paper highlights the major challenges in creating a DR of Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) for university/research institution. Discusses the constraints on ETD initiatives and possible solutions. Suggests that LIS professionals should up problem-solving steps based on research in the area of KM in Libraries. »