[Humanist] 26.489 default online publication of dissertations

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Nov 16 09:45:30 CET 2012


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 489.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Daniel Allington <daniel.allington at open.ac.uk>            (50)
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?

  [2]   From:    "Zafrin, Vika" <vzafrin at bu.edu>                           (54)
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?

  [3]   From:    "Lele, Amod" <lele at bu.edu>                                (58)
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?

  [4]   From:    Michael Fraser <mike.fraser at it.ox.ac.uk>                  (32)
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?

  [5]   From:    Geoffrey Rockwell <grockwel at ualberta.ca>                  (22)
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 09:11:22 +0000
        From: Daniel Allington <daniel.allington at open.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?
        In-Reply-To: <20121115084216.4F4892DDA at digitalhumanities.org>


The practice you describe - online unless embargoed - was (and as far as I know, still is) in force at the institution where I completed my PhD. I think it's fine provided that the application for an embargo is never refused on any grounds. 

Just imagine the ramifications otherwise: former student applies for an embargo; university rejects application; thesis appears online; former student sends manuscript to publisher; publisher rejects manuscript on grounds that too much of the material is already available. Who could blame said student for suing the university?

Some theses are more immediately publishable than others. I know of at least one recent PhD graduate whose thesis was accepted for publication with virtually no modifications.

Best wishes

Daniel

On 15 Nov 2012, at 08:42, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
> 
>        Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 16:41:02 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: default online publication
> 
> 
> This is to ask your opinion on a matter of online publication. Do you 
> think that a doctoral dissertation in the humanities once submitted 
> should as a matter of course be put online by the degree-granting 
> institution unless the student applies for and is granted an embargo? 
> What is the practice where you are?
> ...
> 
> In the old days of typewriters and floppies, I was asked to decide on 
> whether I wanted my dissertation to be freely available in the stacks of 
> the library. I decided to have it kept locked up for some few years. As 
> it happened I never did anything with the dissertation (I would prefer 
> now that it remain out of reach), but that was a different time. It is 
> very easy for me to be in favour of immediate online circulation of all 
> dissertations, however, so I am cautious in thinking that scholars at the
> beginning of their careers would agree.
> 
> What do you think? How should we treat finished work in the humanities 
> that might be published in some form or other?
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> 
> -- 
> Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
> the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
> London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
> University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
> (www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
> (www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/




--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 15:11:02 +0000
        From: "Zafrin, Vika" <vzafrin at bu.edu>
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?
        In-Reply-To: <20121115084216.4F4892DDA at digitalhumanities.org>

Timely question, Willard. There's a lot going on in the world of ETDs
(electronic theses and dissertations) right now.

My institution has recently decided to follow a general trend and begin
accepting graduate theses and dissertations electronically. We're large,
so we're doing it in stages: our first cohort is the May 2013 graduating
class of just one (albeit largest) school within the university. The
reasons for the decision are a combination of pragmatism and the usual
reasoning behind the open access movement:

- student work gets a LOT more exposure, which is good for both students
and university;
- less resource-heavy for the students: no dead trees, no multiple
printings for error correction, no special paper, no associated fees, much
easier and cheaper to submit remotely;
- less resource-heavy for the university libraries: no binding, no storage
of thousands upon thousands of paper theses that mostly never get
consulted, much improved processing workflows, less strain on the
interlibrary loan system.

ProQuest--formerly UMI, the entity with the largest collection of theses
and dissertations in the U.S.--has made it easier for us to transition to
ETDs by building a website, etdadmin.com, which they customize for each
participating school. Through it, we can accept drafts, bounce them back
with comments, and process final submissions and all accompanying
documentation. This costs us nothing extra if we're already doing business
with PQ, which we are. Schools that don't do business with PQ find other
ways to streamline this.

So, that's the dry business case. What's the humanities-specific case? I
think it aligns pretty much wholly with the case for open access in
general. Increased visibility, increased citations, serendipitous
opportunities that would be difficult to come by any other way. If there's
a good reason to restrict access, that can be done. Mostly, there isn't a
good reason to restrict access.

Most publishers that consider dissertations for revision and publication
don't seem to mind the originals being openly accessible, since the final
publication often doesn't much resemble the final submitted dissertation.
In cases where they do mind, the author can usually choose to embargo the
dissertation either upon submission or afterwards.

Which is to say: everyone wins. We think.

I'm interested in your apparent contradiction: you're frustrated whenever
you can't get your hands on a thesis or dissertation, but you also think
"discouraging their unrevised publication is fully justified." Sure, a
dissertation isn't a proper monograph. It's not meant to be. If the
context is fully understood, why should unrevised publication of
dissertations be discouraged?

For what it's worth, most young scholars I talk to at BU, including those
in the humanities, are persuaded by the above arguments. If anything, it's
the faculty we need to struggle with, because some of them tend to
unintentionally misinform students about what open access actually *is*,
and scare them off with tales of OA being bad for their careers. (It's
not. It's been shown to be good.)

-Vika

Vika Zafrin
Institutional Repository Librarian
Boston University
+1 617.358.6370 | http://dcommon.bu.edu/



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 15:48:52 +0000
        From: "Lele, Amod" <lele at bu.edu>
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?
        In-Reply-To: <20121115084216.4F4892DDA at digitalhumanities.org>


I briefly thought about keeping my dissertation behind a pay wall to make it more attractive to book publishers, but decided that as an advocate for open access I really couldn't live with myself for doing that. I also knew that I wasn't going to be turning the book into a diss as it was - it was probably going to be the starting point for two different books.

So I paid to have UMI archive it as open access. When I decided I was sick of the faculty job market, I made it available on my own website for everyone to see (http://loveofallwisdom.com/other-writings/) - but only then. As soon as he saw this, a fellow recent graduate in my discipline Gchatted me with alarm: "You posted your entire dissertation! Aren't you interested in publishing it as a book?" And I don't blame him. In the cutthroat calamity that is the faculty job market, it is no surprise that struggling recent graduates want every advantage for publishing that they can get, and the incentive structure rewards conventional publishing, not open access. The system benefits neither writers nor readers, only publishers. But it's probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Amod Lele, PhD
Educational Technologist
Boston University
Office: 617-358-6909
Mobile: 617-645-9857
lele at bu.edu<mailto:lele at bu.edu>



--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 21:27:28 +0000
        From: Michael Fraser <mike.fraser at it.ox.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?
        In-Reply-To: <20121115084216.4F4892DDA at digitalhumanities.org>


Oxford has an institutional policy that mandates the submission of a
digital copy of a research thesis to the institutional repository (once
passed). See  http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/ora/oxford_etheses  for the
policy and guidelines; and for some sample Humanities theses see
 http://ora.ox.ac.uk/search/detailed?q=*%3A*&truncate=450&filterf_faculty=%22Humanities%20Division%20-%20English%20Language%20and%20Literature%22&filterf_typeOfWork=%22Thesis%22&sort=t_itemDate+desc&rows=5&start=0 .

I never transformed my thesis into a monograph. I made it available (as
in 'uploaded a PDF') via both a dedicated web site and deposited it
within Durham University's digital repository
( http://dro.dur.ac.uk/17/ ). And left it there. And was pleasantly
surprised, after a few years. to discover it was cited in a number of
published works (which I very much doubt would have happened if I had
left it in the library stacks).

Mike

-- 
Dr Michael Fraser
Director of Infrastructure Services
IT Services, University of Oxford
13 Banbury Road, Oxford

Technical Coordinator
Student Systems Programme

Tel: 01865 283 343
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~mikef/



--[5]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 15:16:44 -0700
        From: Geoffrey Rockwell <grockwel at ualberta.ca>
        Subject: Re:  26.485 default online publication of dissertations?
        In-Reply-To: <20121115084216.4F4892DDA at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

Most Canadian PhD Theses are published online through Theses Canada (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/thesescanada/index-e.html). Many universities have built into their processes submission to Theses Canada which includes signing the Theses Non-Exclusive License. This license I find too broad. It includes the following language:

-------------start quote from http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/frm-nl59-2-e.pdf
hereby grant a non-exclusive, for the full term of copyright protection, license to Library and Archives Canada:
(a) to reproduce, publish, archive, preserve, conserve, communicate to the public by telecommunication or on the Internet, loan,
distribute and sell my thesis (the title of which is set forth above) worldwide, for commercial or non-commercial purposes, in microform,
paper, electronic and/or any other formats;
(b) to authorize, sub-license, sub-contract or procure any of the acts mentioned in paragraph (a).
------------end

Note that this allows LAC to sell my thesis and pass on the rights licensed. I think this is so LAC can sell the theses to 3rd party publishers who aggregate Canadian ones with others for the useful end of having larger databases. You can read a story in the Chronicle about how our theses are being sold at http://chronicle.com/article/Dissertation-for-Sale-A/132401/

There is some language in the Theses Canada process that allows students to embargo their thesis or parts of it for copyright reasons. For example, if you wrote a novel for an MFA you might not want it up while you negotiate with a publisher. Likewise an art history thesis might reproduce copyright materials (images) that the author cannot pass on to LAC.

My university makes it awkward for a students to not sign the license or to refuse to submit, even though I don't think we can actually refuse to grant a PhD if someone refused. Some work arounds exist - you can upload a PDF with only page images if you don't want the full text up there. You can embargo your thesis for a number of years. You can hand in only a paper copy. You can annotate the license and force the library to deal with you. You can put something into the thesis restricting its use. That said, it is easy for me to describe the issue, but a different thing for a poor student just trying to finish up and get out to stand up to the university rules.

I have documented some of this on my blog at http://www.theoreti.ca/?s=theses+canada

I should add that I do believe there are good reasons for encouraging all Canadian graduate students to share their theses in ways that allow them to be aggregated. I just don't think they should be forced to do so.

Yours,

Geoffrey Rockwell





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