Promises and Perils of Electronic Theses and Dissertations-Scholarly Communications - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, February 15, 2010

Promises and Perils of Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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Shawn Martin, Scholarly Communication Librarian
Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania


The possibilities of putting graduate research online are endless. Now from the comfort of their dorm rooms, students can market themselves for jobs, receive solicitations from publishers interested in their ideas, and increase the profile of themselves and their departments.

Nonetheless, they also lose much of the control they once had over print publications, open themselves up to possible plagiarism from rivals, and may actually be jeopardizing their chances for future tenure and promotion. The University of Pennsylvania recently created an option for graduate students to submit their dissertations in an open access website, ScholarlyCommons, and many of these challenges have come to the fore.

Graduate students, and more importantly their advisors, need to be made aware of the issues of publishing online, and need to carefully consider their options to best disseminate their work.


Shawn Martin is Scholarly Communication Librarian at the Van Pelt Library of the University of Pennsylvania. He has a BA in history from Ohio State University and an MA in history from the College of William and Mary. He has worked for several years in digital libraries including the Digital Library Project at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Ohio Memory Project at the Ohio Historical Society, and, most recently, the Text Creation Partnership at the University of Michigan. Shawn is also active in several library and scholarly associations and serves as the Executive Director of the American Association for History and Computing.