ETDs: Creative ETDs

Current info for Graduate Students about electronic theses and dissertations.

A Message on Creative ETDs from Dean Aimee Surprenant

At Virginia Tech we strive to be on the leading edge in research, innovation, teaching, and learning. Ever advancing technology affords us the opportunity to expand our thinking of the ways in which we are able to create, investigate, and disseminate knowledge to the global community. As Dean for Graduate Education, I strongly encourage graduate students and their faculty mentors to consider ETD formats beyond the customary written document. It is our hope that this guide will assist you in exploring how you can creatively represent and curate your research.


Your creative ETD must include a PDF file that contains the Virginia Tech ETD title page, Abstract, and General Audience Abstract.

In order to make your ETD accessible to the general public in perpetuity, it must in a format that will be accessible in the long term. (See below)

Include information about the software or player required to view your file(s), and add instructions about how to open the file(s) if it would be helpful.

Accepted Preservation Formats

Your ETD file(s) should be in one of the Smithsonian Institution Archives' recommended preservation formats to ensure long term access.

See also the ETDplus "File Formats Guidance Brief."

"The MKV file format developed by Matroska is a rising video preservation file format that is non-proprietary, and when compared to AVI, MPEG-4, and MOV file formats, is the most adaptable and flexible."

Additional Resources

"The best open source software 2018"
"78 Open Source Replacements for Expensive Applications" (2017)

Innovative ETDs at Other Universities

The NDLTD—Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations--recognizes innovative theses and dissertations within the ETD community. Its Innovative ETD Award supports graduate students’ efforts to transform the genre of the ETD by creating innovative works through the use of, for example, software to create multimedia ETDs. See ETDs by previous winners, including

Winner              Howard Earl Fields III

Winner              Christine Waxstein

Winner              Helen J. Burgess          

  • Title: Highways of the mind: the haunting of the superhighway from the World's Fair to the World Wide Web
  • Subject area: English
  • University: West Virginia University (2015)

Winner              Michael Otremba

Winner              Martha C. Giraldo

Winner              Evan D. Dorn

  • Subject area: Computation and Neural Systems
  • University: California Institute of Technology (2006)

Winner              Benjamin D. Koen