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Gone are the days of paying potentially hefty sums to print and bind hard copies of UW master’s theses or doctoral dissertations. And students no longer have to haul paper versions of their works to Graduate School staff for final submission. The process is now mostly electronic—and free of charge.
As of spring quarter 2012, all graduate students must visit the UW Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD) website to launch the process of submitting their final documents. A new online system allows students to upload their work, handle requests for minor revisions (formatting changes , for example) from Graduate School staff, and order optional bound copies of their documents, all in one place.
Previously, costs for submitting a thesis or dissertation could run into the hundreds of dollars. All graduate students had to pay a required $25 binding fee to the Graduate School—in addition to what could be hundreds of dollars for printing two hard copies of their work—when making their submission. Doctoral students had to pay an additional $70 for microfilming. Students wishing to make their works widely available on an open access basis had to pay an additional $100.
And beyond the costs, there were cumbersome administrative steps, such as visiting or calling Student Fiscal Services to request that the required charges be placed on the student’s account. And then, of course, there was the trek to the Communications Building with documents in hand.
Now the entire process is free except for optional printing, binding and copyright costs. Submission is as simple as setting up an online account with Proquest/UMI Dissertation Publishing, following a series of prompts, and clicking “submit.”
Only one important piece of the process remains on paper: Students must submit an original, signed master’s supervisory or doctoral dissertation reading committee approval form by campus mail, postal mail, or in person to the Graduate School office in Communications Building before their thesis or dissertation can be officially accepted.
The Graduate School pilot tested the system in autumn quarter 2011 with students in the Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, and Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate programs. In winter quarter, the ETD system became open to any interested graduate student, but paper filing remained an option.
So far, 142 students have submitted their theses or dissertations electronically. Enthusiasm for the electronic method has been high. During winter quarter, the number of electronically filed documents was nearly double that of paper filings. Students’ early reviews of the system have been overwhelmingly positive, said Nichole Fernkes, an enrollment and admissions adviser in the Graduate School.
The final electronic documents are also easier to share than ever before with family, friends and colleagues.
With the old system, students could request open-access publishing, but doing so involved an extra step of coordination with UW Libraries. Now their works will automatically be sent after their acceptance by the Graduate School not only to ProQuest/UMI Dissertation Publishing but also to UW Libraries, where they will become available on an open access basis through its ResearchWorks service. From there, students can show their work to others merely by emailing a link, and their documents become easier for colleagues to find. (Students can request to delay the open-access availability if they have sensitivities about releasing their work—for instance, if they have a patent application pending.)
If mom still wants a bound copy of her son’s or daughter’s thesis for the bookshelf, students may pay a fee to order bound paper copies of their documents through UW Copy Centers, ProQuest, or another favorite print shop. As was the case with the paper submission process, students may also decide to register a copyright on their work if they’re seeking additional legal protections.
Despite the shift to electronic filing, students should take care to provide all information required by the Graduate School, as shown on sample title and other pages available at the Graduate School website. The Graduate School continues to provide suggested guidelines for fonts, page numbering and other formatting.
For more details on how to submit a thesis or dissertation through the new system and the latest deadline information, visit the new ETD website. If you have any questions about the new process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join the Graduate School and UW Libraries for an information session covering copyright, open access, and final submission instructions for ETD.
When: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Where: Bagley Hall, Room 139.