As December graduation deadline dates are fast approaching, please update all department publications, and notify degree candidates that, effective Fall 2003, all Thesis and Dissertations will be submitted electronically. The on-line submission process is outlined at our web site [from University email]

The University of Maryland now only accepts a thesis or dissertation in PDF format (they take .rtf and .doc, but change them into PDF). This is a pretty radical shift, I think, not just in general policy, but in terms of what a dissertation can easily include. Of course, digital dissertations aren’t new, but we are talking enforced doctrine here, rather than early adoption.

The UMD process still has restrictions in terms of margins and other formatting issues (fonts, grr!), but you can still embed video, images, and sound easily in a PDF document, not to mention use programs like Quark to develop elaborate designs within the established guidelines. While I’m grateful that I’ll eventually save money on copy costs, I really wonder: are they just trying to make it harder for me to finish?

Hyperlinks. Images. Video. Sound.

Bound, but unbound.


2 Responses to Digital Dissertation

  1. Anne says:

    I will be submitting a digital dissertation – in html – so this is really interesting to me.

    But I can’t help but wonder about archival problems in the future …

    The National Library and Archives of Canada require that I submit on CD all the html files and a current browser (to ensure future readability) but contrary to popular belief, readable media have finite lifespans.

  2. Jason says:

    Anne – further reading revealed that the contracted service does print out one copy for university archive purposes, so any extra media (film, sound, etc.) has to also be submitted on CDROM.

    But I agree – I think there’s a lot of necessary work to be done in the preservation of digital materials (how do you archive those archives?).

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