Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) by Faculty

This FAQ was developed by the ETD Committee to address the many questions posed by members of the faculty. Any questions not answered here should be directed via email to etd-questions@wpi.edu.

  1. What exactly is required of the students writing theses and dissertations?
  2. Will my students' submitting their theses and dissertations electronically require more effort on my part?
  3. Will I still be able to get a paper copy of my students' work, even after electronic-only submission is required?
  4. What about undergraduate project reports?
  5. Doesn't this form of "publishing" violate WPI's intellectual property policy?
  6. How can I mark up my students' documents during the writing process if they are in PDF?
  7. When should I start talking to my students about ETDs?
  8. Where should I send my students for assistance?
  9. Does putting a thesis or dissertation endanger my student or myself from publishing ancillary articles in journals?
  10. Can students turn their theses/dissertations on diskette or CD-ROM?
  11. Can students edit their ETDs after they submit them?

1. What exactly is required of the students writing theses and dissertations?
Students completing and defending their research this year must submit a PDF of their work through the Web site, along with a printed and signed copy of their title page, and a printed and signed copy of the ETD Approval Form.
2. Will my students' submitting their theses and dissertations electronically require more effort on my part?
Most likely - no. The bulk of the effort in converting the document to PDF and submitting it online lies with the student. You only need to sign the approval form, which the student should print when it is presented in the process of on-line submission, and bring to you for your signature.

If, on the other hand, you have a particular interest in helping your students explore alternative methods of presenting their research (see these award-winning ETDs for ideas), then this may require a bit more effort on your part, yes.
3. Will I still be able to get a paper copy of my students' work, even after electronic-only submission is required?
You or your students are welcome to contact Acme Bookbinding Company about their on-demand thesis printing and binding service. Acme offers a reasonably priced beautiful hard cover printing and binding service. Just send Acme a PDF of the thesis or dissertation, and they take care of the rest.
4. What about undergraduate project reports?
Good question. We are currently looking into the possibility of accepting these reports electronically. There are many technical issues which differ from the issues faced by our graduate students, and since we have a working model for ETDs from Virginia Tech, we are implementing it first. Several faculty have expressed an interest in asking their project advisees to participate in a pilot project similar to the one we have completed for ETDs. Interested faculty should email etd-questions@wpi.edu
5. Doesn't this form of "publishing" violate WPI's intellectual property policy?
No. Please visit the WPI Intellectual Property Policy for more specifics.
6. How can I mark up my students' documents during the writing process if they are in PDF?
While it is possible to attach "notes" to PDF documents using the full version of Adobe Acrobat, we do not recommend that students submit drafts to the faculty in this format. It is much easier to edit and recommend changes to documents in Microsoft Word® or LaTeX formats. The submission of ETDs does not require students to convert their document to PDF until they have a final draft approved by their committees.
7. When should I start talking to my students about ETDs?
As soon as possible! We recommend that the student and advisor discuss the ramifications of publishing an ETD as early in the writing process as possible. Naturally, this will vary with the student and the topic of the thesis or dissertation, but students and advisors should decide fairly early on how the work will be released.
8. Where should I send my students for assistance?
The ETD Web site contains all the information students need to know to submit their thesis/dissertation on line, including a Help & Tutorials section as well as a checklist and other documents to help them through the process. Support is always available via e-mail to etd-questions@wpi.edu.
9. Does putting a thesis or dissertation online endanger my student or myself from publishing ancillary articles in journals?
That depends on the discipline and the journal. Some journals consider the web to be a form of publishing, and therefore will refuse for publication any work previously available on the web. The NDLTD has written a statement about publications. Several journals have provided statements in support of ETDs to the NDLTD.

We recommend that students and faculty interested in publishing work based upon an ETD contact any appropriate journal publishers who have not delivered statements to the NDLTD.

When a statement is received, we request that a copy be sent along with the WPI ETD Approval Form so that a copy can be passed on to other universities via the NDLTD Website. A sample letter for such inquiries are available on the Virginia Tech website.
10. Can students turn their theses/dissertations on diskette or CD-ROM?
No. All theses & dissertations must be converted to PDF and uploaded through the ETD submission system.
11. Can students edit their ETDs after they submit them?
Yes and no. The ETD system will allow students to edit the information they have entered and/or replace their PDF file until your ETD is approved by the ETD Coordinator.

Once ETDs have been approved, however, the system will no longer permit changes to be made by students. If a new PDF is required, students should ask their thesis/dissertation advisor to e-mail it as an attachment to the ETD Coordinator at etd-questions@wpi.edu. If edits to the record (information they input) are all that is required, those need to be submitted by their thesis/dissertation advisor via e-mail to the ETD Coordinator as well.
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Last modified: May 02, 2013, 15:16 EDT
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