ETDs: Publishers & ETDs

Current info for Graduate Students about electronic theses and dissertations.

Goals of Theses and Dissertations

"The discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are central to [Virginia Tech's] mission".

  • Demonstrates author knows how to conduct and convey original research according to the norms of the subject discipline
  • Demonstrates author has promise to make a continuing contribution to scholarship
  • Communicates research results
  • Shows writing ability
  • Makes an original contribution to scholarship

Allen, George R. (1973). The Graduate Students’ Guide to Theses and Dissertations: A Practical Manual for Writing and Research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, in Tenopir, Carol (2016) “Technological Opportunities and Human Realities for Dissertations in The Future." Council of Graduate Schools: Future of the Dissertation Workshop,

Additional Goals of  ETDS

  • Discoverable
  • Integrity of content
    • Readable or viewable into the future
    • Non-proprietary formats
  • Data behind graphs, charts, and conclusions


Publishers' Attitudes towards ETDs

"Not embargoing one’s dissertation [or thesis] immediately upon deposit is unlikely to harm an early career scholar’s chances of landing a book contract"

Audrey Truschke (2015) Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University


Data Tell the Story about Publishers' Attitudes towards ETDs

“Do Open Access ETDs Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Sciences?” Marisa L. Ramirez, Gail McMillan, Joan T. Dalton, Ann Hanlon, Heather S. Smith, Chelsea Kern. College & Research Libraries 75/6 (Nov, 2014): 808-821. doi: 10.5860/crl.75.6.8

“Do Open Access ETDs Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities? Findings from a 2011 Survey of Academic Publishers.” Marisa L. Ramirez, Joan T. Dalton, Gail McMillan, Max Read, and Nancy H. Seamans. College & Research Libraries, 74/4 (July 2013): 368-380. doi: 10.5860/crl-356

ETDs: A Survey of Editors and Publishers: Joan Dalton, International Symposium on ETDs, 2000

ETDs as Prior Publication: What the Editors Say: Nancy Seamans, Library Hi Tech, 2003

ETDs: Two Surveys of Editors and Publishers: Joan Dalton and Nancy Seamans in ETD: A Sourcebook for Educators, Students, and Librarians. NY: Marcel Dekker, 2004.

Do ETDs Deter Publishers? College and Research Libraries News, 2001

Anxieties, trepidation, fears

Some organizations have contradicted the goals of T&Ds and universities.

  • Without a single citation
  • Without references to research on digital scholarship
  • Without indicating basis for alleging that embargoes help junior scholars to publish their first books
2013 American Historical Association: 6 year restricted access
2012 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Director’s Handbook: University access to abstracts only


New Concerns about ETDs

  • ETDs make author anonymity more difficult.
  • Some publishers and editors are not aware of ETDs
  • Some publishers and editors may ask you to stop distribution of their ETD when they agree to publish your REVISED material.
  • Some ETDs include published articles.


University press editors are generally invested in the book as an entity unto itself. Just as theses covers are radically different, the content of these two works is radically different.

  • Evaluating a revised ETD is identical with methods for assessing subsequent books by more senior scholars
  • Substantial revisions
  • Structurally significantly different from the dissertation


Publishers/Editors comments about publishing ETDs

Science editors' surveys included these comments:

“While we recognise theses as legitimate and citeable publications, they are considered gray literature because they do not go through blind external peer review and are not published in a recognized peer reviewed outlet. They are not considered prepublication...”

“Work which has not been published in archival peer reviewed journals is considered appropriate for submission, even if it is accessible elsewhere.”

“A peer-reviewed publication that comes out of a dissertation or thesis should not only be encouraged but is crucially important for the scholar's development and advancement of scientific knowledge.”

“Our journal has essentially ignored any potential conflict arising from publication of ETDs, because the situation is really not different from the days of hard copy thesis holdings by University libraries. They … are simply more easily available now…”

“It is our job to archive and publish the best research. Thus we are quite happy to publish material which otherwise would sit languishing on an online archive.”

Comments from editors, publishers, and university press directors Social Sciences/Humanities Survey:

“We normally consider theses or dissertations for publication only if the author is willing to revise them for a broader audience; this is our practice regardless of the availability of an ETD.”

“All essays go through extensive review and revision process, so even if the starting point is out there, the final product is not.”

“A chapter of a thesis or dissertation will virtually never be suitable as an article in my journal. Authors will often have to contextualize their discussion and explain the implications of their conclusions. And authors will often find that, after completing a dissertation, they are able to refine the argumentation a bit as well.”

“The editorial review and publication process entails substantial refinement and revision of works that originate as part of doctoral work and thus we do not consider raw dissertations as competing with the works eventually published under our imprint.”

“The American Psychological Association, which publishes over 40 journals across psychology, has an official policy that theses/dissertations, even if archived at a university site, are not counted as prior publication.”

“We do not consider the dissertation to be the equivalent of a book. It is student work; a book is professional work.”

“Dissertations have never counted as publications… A pdf of an unpublished work is still an unpublished work.”

“Prior availability through an IR is not usually the deciding factor. We are more interested in the quality of the work, how well it fits with our list, and whether it deserves wider dissemination and promotion.”