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Electronic Theses & Dissertations


An Electronic Thesis or Dissertation (ETD) is simply the digital (electronic) representation of your thesis or dissertation.  It is the same as its paper counterpart in content and organization, and it meets the formatting requirements described in A Student Guide to Preparing Electronic Theses and Dissertations.  You already have created an ETD if you have written your thesis or dissertation on a computer by using a word processing program.

UA ETD implementation is a joint effort of the Graduate School, ProQuest/UMI, and the University Libraries. The Graduate School’s ETD site is where you find general information on ETDs at UA, and the ProQuest (PQ) site is where you will practice ETD submission and then make the final submission.  The role of UA Libraries is to provide access and long-term archiving of ETDs.

ETD submission began as optional on 26-Feb-09.  It became required for all thesis and dissertation submissions as of 15-Aug-09. 

NOTE:  There are 2 important ETD websites.

  1. The UA site where you are now has general ETD information that you should review first.
  2. The ProQuest (PQ) site is where you go next. Here you find detailed information on PQ guidelines on formatting for digital submission, publishing, copyrighting, binding, etc.  You also can practice ETD submission and make the final submission.

Advantages of ETD:

Rather than printing your manuscript dozens of times as you make changes and progress through the various stages of review, you will be able simply to make corrections to the electronic file, convert the final version to a PDF file, and submit that file.

You may include additional information (e.g., data or multimedia files) that may not be possible or appropriate to incorporate into a paper document.  Such files typically are included, however, only if they are an integral part of the thesis or dissertation.

Whereas paper copies can spend months waiting to be bound and distributed, your electronic document can be available much more quickly and, if you so choose, to a much wider audience.

You may be able to reduce or eliminate the costs of printing and binding.  Committee members may still, if they choose, require a paper copy for their part of the review process and/or for departmental archives.

It is important to recognize the distinction between electronic submission and electronic publication.

Electronic submission means simply that rather than printing your thesis or dissertation and submitting paper copies to the Graduate School, you will submit your final document electronically as a PDF file.

Electronic publication refers to the ways in which your electronic thesis or dissertation will be made available to others.  For further discussion, visit Publishing Your Electronic Thesis or Dissertation and Copyright Information for Your Thesis or Dissertation.

Publishing Your Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

ProQuest notifies the Graduate School when you submit your ETD at the PQ site. Once approved by the Graduate School, your ETD is published by ProQuest/UMI and UA Libraries.

There are two alternative ways to publish--traditional publishing or open access publishing--with a further  option to place an embargo (i.e., time delay) on the release of your ETD into the public domain. 

What is traditional publishing, and what are the benefits?

Traditional publishing means that your thesis or dissertation is listed in an online database; however, access to the full manuscript is available only to authorized PQ users by paid subscription.  Other users have access to only an extract consisting of the title page and the first few content pages.  Traditional publishing is a less-expensive option and makes it possible to earn royalties.  See the PQ site for details.

What is open access publishing, and what are the benefits?

Open Access Publishing means the full text of your electronic thesis or dissertation is freely accessible world-wide on the Internet after the committee’s final approval and your subsequent submission of the ETD.  Granting open access to your ETD results in more recognition of your research work, wider dissemination of scholarly information, and acceleration of research.  For more information on open access, read Open Access: Open the Channels of Communication in Your Field published by the Association of College & Research Libraries. 

You can choose to grant immediate access to your ETD world-wide on the Internet or to block access to protect the work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a designated period.  Open access to your ETD is automatic after the designated time.  

Publishers of some professional journals (e.g., Elsevier) have made the decision that theses or dissertations that are available online, even those with world-wide availability, do not qualify as prior publication and therefore do not deter later publication.  However, other publishers (e.g., the American Physiological Society) have reached the opposite conclusion.

Disclosing potential intellectual property in theses or dissertations published online may preclude patent rights in some areas of the world. If you have patent concerns or concerns that the electronic posting of your ETD might prevent later acceptance of your research by professional journals or book publishers, it is your responsibility to consult with your committee and with possible future publishers to make an informed decision.  Most professional journals publish Instructions for Authors on their web site where they specifically address this issue. Some journals, however, do not.  Many journals state that their policy is to deal with each submission on a case-by-case basis.  To clarify the policies of a particular journal, you may need to contact the publisher.

Publishing Your ETD with ProQuest/UMI

All master’s and doctoral students submitting an ETD must sign an agreement with ProQuest/UMI Dissertation Publishing. This is completed and electronically signed as part of your on-line submission through ProQuest.

ProQuest is a private company that has acted for more than 60 years as the publisher and distributor for the majority of theses and dissertations written in the United States.  Published theses and dissertations are listed in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) databaseOnline access to the available full text of theses and dissertations (including those written at UA) is through paid institutional subscription.

It is important that you read and understand the ramifications of the Proquest/UMI agreement and any other publishing agreement that you may be asked to sign.  To make informed decisions, you, your faculty advisor, and your committee should be aware of the publication practices in your field of study, particularly if you have previously published or plan to publish any part of your research in a journal or book. An example of the agreement can be viewed at the ProQuest website (agreement)

The ProQuest/UMI Publication Agreement

A copy of each UA thesis and dissertation is sent to PQ, where a digital copy is stored both in the PQ archives and in the Library of Congress. Any researcher can locate your document through a subject, author, or keyword search; read your abstract; and preview the first few pages of your dissertation.  In addition, unless you specifically indicate otherwise in the publication agreement that you will be required to sign, your document also may be purchased by anyone as a download or as a bound copy.  PQ pays you royalties on those sales at the rate of 10% for any year in which the amount totals $10 or more.

Access to full-text ETDs in the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Database is through paid subscription.  Once a student or faculty member is no longer affiliated with UA, he or she would lose the access unless affiliated with another organization that has a PQ subscription. 

Read Publishing Your Graduate Work with UMI Dissertation Publishing very carefully before signing this agreement. You will find important information on copyright there as well.

Publishing Your ETD with UA Libraries

All master’s and doctoral students submitting a thesis or dissertation to the UA Graduate School must sign the UA Publication Form for Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. This is completed and electronically signed as part of your on-line submission through ProQuest.

The Libraries provide free, long-term, full-text access to UA ETDs on and off campus through the Libraries Digital Collections Depositing ETDs with the Libraries for open access is at no cost to graduate students.  The Libraries receive a copy of the PDF file for access and archiving once the thesis or dissertation is submitted and approved by the Graduate School.


You may choose to embargo (i.e., restrict access to) your work for six months, one year, or two years; beginning with ETDs submitted for Fall 2011 commencement, there also is a 5-year option.  If you embargo, only the citation information will appear in the library databases until the designated embargo period has ended.  Decide with your advisor whether or not to embargo.

Copyright Information


TIP:  Back up your work!

We recommend that each day you work on your thesis or dissertation, you save your document under a brief name that ends with the current date.  For example,  "Ch One 24-Mar-2012", then tomorrow, "Ch One 25-Mar-2012"  You will have a chronological archive of your work in case you make an inadvertent change or even lose the file on which you are currently working.  It’s well worth the expense of buying removable media such flash drives, zip disks or CDs.  It’s also a good idea to have copies in multiple places.  Keep one in your bag, one in your drawer at home, and one somewhere safe in your department.  It takes a bit more time, but sensible backup procedures can save you from a lot of heartbreak and many hours of lost time down the road.

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