WPI Moves to 100% Electronically Submitted Theses and Dissertations

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5706

Worcester, Mass. - March 12, 2003 - Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has taken another leap into the electronic age by requiring that all theses and dissertations be submitted electronically. Starting this academic year, the university will accept only electronic copies of theses and dissertations and will no longer accept paper copies. After the successes experienced during a period of voluntary electronic submission, the WPI faculty voted to mandate electronic submission, dropping the former requirement of paper submission.

The move to 100 percent electronic dissertations at WPI is the culmination of a four-year Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Initiative that began in 1998. During this transition period authors of theses and dissertations were strongly encouraged to submit their works to the electronic collection in addition to submitting bound paper copies to the university.

The main goals of WPI's ETD initiative include increasing the availability of student research for scholars and preserving it electronically; empowering universities to unlock their information resources; advancing digital library technology; and assisting students in producing electronic documents, understanding issues in publishing, and giving them the ability to convey richer messages through the use of multimedia and hypermedia technologies.

"WPI believes strongly in the benefits of ETDs, and as a result they are the first institution in New England to require that all of the university's new theses and dissertations be submitted electronically," says Edward A. Fox, director of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD; www.ndltd.org), an international federation of universities and institutions facilitating and promoting digital libraries.

As part of this initiative, WPI became a member of the NDLTD in collaboration with more than 150 academic institutions from around the world. The NDLTD, which originated at Virginia Tech, helps its member institutions share information in implementing ETD policies and ETD results. WPI uses an adapted version of Virginia Tech's submission software and requires students to submit their documents in a PDF format via this process.

"Electronic theses and dissertations are an invaluable contribution to worldwide graduate education and unlock the underutilized results of graduate education for the scholarly community," adds Helen M. Shuster, WPI's director of library services and chair of the university's ETD initiative. "The electronic documents are receiving far more use than our print theses and dissertations ever did. The WPI community has already benefited from our relationship with the NDLTD and from the availability of WPI ETDs even before they were mandated."

WPI's ETD collection is accessible through the World Wide Web, where all documents have an online abstract available to the world. The body of most ETDs is openly available for reading worldwide but some are restricted due to issues such as pending publication of results in a refereed journal, nondisclosure agreements, and patent applications. These restrictions are formally approved by students and their advisors and result in some documents or portions of documents being available for WPI access only, and others being withheld for a period of time from public disclosure.

WPI scholars produce approximately 90 new theses and dissertations a year. The electronic collection currently consists of 149 master's theses and 25 Ph.D. dissertations from 14 different departments. Information on WPI's electronic theses and dissertations is available on the Web at www.wpi.edu/Pubs/ETD.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today its students, working in teams at more than 20 project centers around the globe, put their knowledge and skills to work as they complete professional-level work that can have an immediate positive impact on society.

WPI's innovative, globally focused curriculum has been recognized by leaders in industry, government and academia as the model for the technological education of tomorrow. Students emerge from this program as true technological humanists, well rounded, with the confidence, the interpersonal skills and the commitment to innovation they need to make a real difference in their professional and personal lives.

The university awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology. Located in the heart of the region's biotechnology and high-technology sectors, WPI has built research programs - including the largest industry/university alliance in North America - that have won it worldwide recognition.