Electronic Theses and Dissertations at the University of Virginia

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Cristina W. Sharretts

    Alderman Library - University of Virginia

  2. 2. Jackie Shieh

    Alderman Library - University of Virginia

  3. 3. James C. French

    Department of Computer Science - University of Virginia

Work text
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Electronic Theses and Dissertations at the University
of Virginia

Alderman Library University of Virginia

Alderman Library University of Virginia

Department of Computer Science University of


University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA





Although technology has made life easier in many ways, one of the constant
complaints has been the extra time it takes to learn it. What once required a
few steps manually, may involve now just as many or more steps electronically.
This is why simplicity was the main concern the University of Virginia Library
(UVa) kept in mind when developing the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD)
This poster illustrates an elegant method of incorporating a fundamental
component of the University's educational experience, namely the publishing of
theses and dissertations in electronic format, but with much ease. Electronic
Theses and Dissertations are by no means a new concept. The uniqueness of the
University of Virginia Electronic Theses and Dissertations is that the whole
process was assimilated through the performance of the technical skills and
intellectual efforts from faculty and students. The ETD project features a
system which creates no extra network load and runs fully automatically from the
submission of data to the conversion of data into MARC and subsequent loading
into the Library's online catalog, VIRGO.
The UVa Library began exploring ETDs in 1995 as an alternative means of scholarly
publishing activity. An ad hoc committee recommended the use of SGML for
archival purposes but this option proved to be more complex than the skills of
the personnel available. A new library project team worked with Professor Jim
French of the Department of Computer Science (CS), who had led an engineering
departmental project in which six undergraduate students submitted their theses
electronically. One thesis described the process and developed a prototype for
both submission and retrieval of data. The programs, originally developed by
Virginia Tech, utilizing Adobe Acrobat Portable
Document Format (PDF) to archive the files, were modified to fit the
requirements of the University and the Library. The project team then undertook
a pilot project in cooperation with the School of Engineering to investigate and
evaluate the pedagogical ramifications for new electronic media based on the
experiences of the students, faculty, library and, to an extent, the entire
The system was designed to be self-explanatory and easy to use. Submission
instructions guide the student-authors step by step. The submission form, a
single form for both theses and dissertations, is available at the ETD web page,
URL, <>, or through the Library web, URL, <> under Services. At this time only theses and dissertations which can be
converted to PDF and HTML formats can be submitted.
Students begin by entering their name, e-mail address, and degree program and
this information triggers the form applicable to the specific degree program.
This segment adds title, abstract, year of publication, codes for advisors,
committee chairman or committee members, year of publication, number of file(s)
and location of file(s) to be submitted. Only 'text' file(s) can be submitted;
images are treated separately. The author has a chance to preview the form as
many times as necessary and make necessary changes before clicking the Send to Library button. Screen messages, such as error
messages, are generated automatically whenever appropriate, while e-mail
messages are posted to the respective parties, such as students, advisors,
catalogers and school officials, regarding other aspects of the process, such as
successful transmissions and availability in the catalog. Internally, the
submitted file(s) is placed on temporary storage while the Library cataloging
staff is informed of its existence by a separate e-mail. Staff approval or
rejection generates an e-mail message to the address included in the submission
form. An approval indicates a clean transmission with no missing file(s) or
links; a rejection deletes the file(s) from temporary storage permanently. This
last feature also helps in preserving the integrity of the database. The
approval triggers the creation of a MARC record utilizing the data entered in
the submission form. This record is loaded into VIRGO or disposed in the way its
author has indicated in the submission form. At the same time the file(s) is
automatically moved from temporary to permanent storage and a URL is created to
be included in the VIRGO record, making the ETD accessible in full-text.
The summer of 1998 proved to be a very exciting and gratifying working experience
among the committee members which included two students on loan by the
Department of Computer Science. The strategies and methodologies will
undoubtedly help in pushing forward the ETD project at the University. Planned
enhancements are:
Complete indexing of the data for searching and retrieval using Dienst for Web interface, in order to
synchronize the searching experience in both VIRGO and Web.
Securing the authorship of the data.
Automate the upload and indexing bibliographic data in VIRGO.
Implementing URNs by employing CNRI'sCorporation for
National Research Initiatives
Handle architecture scheme.

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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

June 9, 1999 - June 13, 1999

102 works by 157 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ICCH (19), ALLC/EADH (26), ACH/ALLC (11)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None