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What is the electronic thesis and dissertation program?

In the past, theses and dissertations were primarily housed in paper form at the home university library. If any one wanted to see these documents, these theses/dissertations could only be obtained either by going to the home library or by requesting it from another library through inter-library loan. While storing theses as paper copies served an archival purpose, the reality was that few people ever saw these theses or dissertations unless they were published. To create a broader distribution of the information contained in these papers, a for-profit company in Minnesota (formerly called Dissertation Abstracts and now ProQuest in Michigan) began collecting theses and dissertations and holding them in microfiche form. Upon request, they produce a hard copy of the theses or dissertations for a price.

In the last decade or so, several universities in the U.S. began developing individual databases whereby theses/dissertations would be saved online. The idea behind this program was that theses/dissertations would be easily accessible, have a much wider area of distribution, and be available without the reproduction cost. Another exciting possibility that led to interest in on-line theses/dissertations was the ability of an electronic document to include multimedia information in the traditional thesis/dissertation.

Here at Wake Forest, we began participating in an electronic theses and dissertation program in 2001. We created a local database which is housed on a WFU server and is accessible through the Z. Smith Reynolds and Coy C. Carpenter Libraries’ websites.

As of the Fall semester 2008, the Graduate School of Wake Forest University began requiring electronic submission of ALL theses and dissertations submitted. As of August 2010, the Graduate School and WFU Libraries have ceased collecting bound copies, requiring electronic submission only.

What is the time frame on submitting my thesis/dissertation?

Prior to submission, you need to complete your thesis or dissertation and have it approved by your committee. The file you will be working with is the final version incorporating all changes from your review.

What do I have to do to be ready to submit my thesis or dissertation?

The process is to:

  1. First have an electronic copy of your thesis/dissertation
  2. Then convert it to a PDF file,
  3. And then submit it to the Wake Forest library, via the UMI ETD Administrator, from where it can be kept locally and
    released to the worldwide database (with a possible embargo if you choose).

Step 1: Undoubtedly your thesis or dissertation will already be in an electronic form. As you create your document, there are some issues you need to address to ensure that your final product meets the formatting requirements for a thesis/dissertation. Also, you will want to format your Word file so that the conversion to a PDF file will go smoothly. You can find assistance with page numbering, creating sections, footnotes, a table of content, and inserting images are covered here.

Step 2: The next step is to convert your word processing program into a PDF file. Follow these Instructions for how to make this conversion.

If you have problems with the conversion, please contact Molly Keener at Z. Smith Reynolds Library (keenerm@wfu.edu, 758-5829) or Molly Barnett at the Coy C. Carpenter Library (mbarnett@wfubmc.edu, 716-2303).

Step 3: The final step is to submit/upload the thesis/dissertation to the database. You will find specifc instructions for the submission process.Before you actually make your submission, however, you will have complete a release form and turn it in to the Graduate Office. On this form you indicate your decision both on how wide a distribution you want for your thesis (Wake Forest only for an embargo period, or the World Wide Web immediately) and the time frame (when will the thesis/dissertation become available to which audience).

On this form you will indicate your release preferences which will either be the recommended one – make the thesis/dissertation available to Wake Forest and the web immediately – or, if you are planning to publish your research in the near future you may choose to make the thesis/dissertation available just to Wake Forest and then to the web after an embargo period.

As this decision also affects your advisor and his/her work, you will need to get your advisor’s signature on the release form about the timing and the distribution.

One common concern about the electronic thesis and dissertation database is that listing your work here will cause problems with publishing your work later in a journal. At this point, many journals have become aware of the database and developed a policy. Some journals will be concerned but many others are not. Your best bet is to select three journals you might consider sending your thesis/dissertation to and asking them for their policy.

What about patent rights?

If you think there is a possibility of a patent coming out of your thesis or dissertation, you should discuss the timing of releasing your document with your advisor. Depending on what you and your advisor decide, you may want to consider how you are going to limit access to your thesis/dissertation by locale (just Wake Forest or also the World Wide Web) and the time frame (immediately; in 6, 12 or 24 months; or when you notify us). Incidentally, we have been advised that the date that your thesis/dissertation goes on-line is the date your one-year time frame for patenting is considered to have started.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 336-758-5475.