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Theses and Dissertations: Frequently Asked Questions

What is an ETD?

An ETD (electronic thesis or dissertation) is an electronic version of a thesis or dissertation. An ETD is formatted just like a traditional thesis or dissertation (with pagination, tables, figures, references, etc.), but it is saved as a PDF file and submitted electronically to the University instead of printed on paper. Once approved, ETDs are made available online and preserved in a digital archive.

What are the benefits of ETDs?

An ETD makes research immediately accessible to a broad audience, while reducing both printing/binding costs for the student and processing/storage costs for the University. In addition to the electronic format being more readily searchable than a print document, it can incorporate added features such as color, multimedia, and supplemental files and provides opportunities to use new forms of creative scholarship through use of interactive elements, multimedia, hyperlinks, etc.

Retrospectively scanning theses and dissertations makes historical research accessible to a wide audience. By digitizing older research, it becomes more accessible to scholars all over the world, as well as being more readily searchable than a print document.

What are my options regarding electronic access? Can I delay or restrict the publication of my ETD?

While UCF respects the wishes of students who would like to publish their work and/or apply for patents, it is essential for scholarly research conducted at a university be available for dissemination. While several options are available for the release of an ETD, it is the goal of the university that all theses and dissertations be available through the UCF Libraries catalog. Upon uploading the final ETD to the UCF Libraries ETD website, students must choose one of four options for the availability of their ETD through UCF. Students are required to discuss the following options with their thesis or dissertation adviser and indicate the availability choice on the Thesis and Dissertation Attachment form.


  • Immediate worldwide dissemination with no restrictions.
  • Pending dissemination of the entire work for six months for patent or other proprietary issues, with an additional six months extension available. Once the patent and proprietary issues are resolved, we recommend immediate worldwide dissemination with no restrictions.
  • Pending dissemination of the entire work for six months for patent or other proprietary issues, with an additional six months extension available. Once the patent and proprietary issues are resolved, we recommend dissemination with limited access to the UCF community for a period of one year, three years*, or five years*.
  • Dissemination with limited access to the UCF community for a period of one year, three years*, or five years*.

           * Does not require thesis and dissertation adviser signature and approval.

Where can researchers find UCF’s ETDs?

Traditionally all ETDs have been made available via the UCF Libraries’ catalog. Dissertations are searchable in WorldCat and a copy of each dissertation has been sent to ProQuest/UMI for inclusion in the licensed ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database at the student’s expense. 

ETDs will continue to be available by searching the UCF Libraries’ catalog. In addition, all ETDs will be discoverable through WorldCat, NDLTD (Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations), Worldwide ETD search, and search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, etc.  After the ETD has been approved, the student may opt to contribute their thesis or dissertation to additional repositories including fee based (ProQuest/UMI) or free (Open Thesis, Internet Archive’s Text Archive, subject specific repositories) alternatives.

My thesis is only in print. How can I get it online?

It's easy!  If you are the author, just sign the Internet Distribution Consent Agreement, either either fax it or scan and email it to us.  That's all you have to do--we take care of the rest.  If you provide contact information, we will let you know when your work is available online to view.

If you are not the author, feel free to contact Kerri Bottorff, RTD Project Coordinator, and she will try to help you.


How do I correct my ETD after it appears on the library server?

Once an ETD is approved and submitted, that version is a matter of University record and will be archived as such. No corrections are allowed after submission.

Are UCF students still allowed to submit to ProQuest?

Definitely. The University is simply dropping the mandatory requirement but in no way is hindering or prohibiting the students’ rights to have their works available in UMI/ProQuest or any other fee based or free service. The student holds the copyright to their work and can choose additional methods for publishing and archiving their thesis or dissertation at their own discretion and expense.

ProQuest UMI Dissertation Publishing has been publishing dissertations and theses since 1938. In that time, they have published over 2 million graduate works from graduate schools around the world. In addition to publishing, they provide access to graduate works for thousands of libraries around the world through their online for-fee database. Most dissertations written in the US are submitted to UMI for archiving on microfilm, from which microform or paper copies can be produced. UMI functions as an on-demand book publisher that eliminates the editorial process. One of the services they offer is to help with copyright and working with publishers.  ProQuest accepts electronic submissions or paper submissions. The latter are scanned and OCR'ed, but in most cases current technology does not yield as good a result as would come from an electronic submission. They have made available online electronic versions of all works they received since 1996.

For more information about how and why to submit to UMI/ProQuest or to request a publishing packet, use the links below.

How are UCF's ETDs preserved?

Upon submission all ETDs are ingested into the Florida Digital Archive for long-term storage, digital preservation, and migration. The Florida Digital Archive provides “a cost-effective, long-term preservation repository for digital materials in support of teaching and learning, scholarship, and research in the state of Florida.  In support of this mission, the Florida Digital Archive guarantees that all files deposited by agreement with its affiliates remain available, unaltered, and readable from media.”

What are digital libraries of ETDs?

The largest university-based collection of ETDs is maintained by the NDLTD (Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations), a consortium of research universities.  Presently, the NDLTD, an international consortium of research universities, hosts over 300,000 ETDs.  The NDLTD presents the Innovative ETD Award and NDLTD Leadership Awards.  Over 100 research universities and institutions have joined the NDLTD, including USF, MIT, and the University of Texas at Austin.

The largest for-profit collection is stored by UMI, University Microfilms International, a division of Bell and Howell .  UMI, a private company that has been the established central repository and disseminator for print dissertations over the last 50 years, scans all the print dissertations it receives and converts them to PDF files which are now available to be downloaded via the internet for the same fee required for a print copy.  In addition, authorized users from participating institutions can download the full text of dissertations and theses published after 1996 at no cost.

What is the NDLTD?

The NDLTD (Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations) is an international consortium dedicated to improving graduate education by promoting digital libraries of electronic theses and dissertations.  Presently, over 100 research universities and professional organizations have joined the NDLTD.  Unlike UMI (University Microfilms International), which is a business that charges for ETDs, the model of the NDLTD is to provide free access to scholarship world-wide. Also, whereas UMI archives only 12,000 of the approximately 100,000 theses produced each year, the NDLTD initiative aims to handle the hundreds of thousands of theses as well as undergraduate honors theses.

Is there one database where I can find all theses and dissertations?

While many institutions have historically submitted to ProQuest, the digital environment is causing institutions to rethink their dissemination options.  Already Harvard, MIT, Virginia Tech, Louisiana State University, University of Tennessee, and California Institute of Technology have elected to make submission to ProQuest optional and Stanford is in the process of moving from ProQuest to Google.  California Polytechnic State University and the University of West Florida have never submitted to ProQuest.  The University of Florida is now requiring only the submission of abstracts to ProQuest.

A listing of ETD sites to use for completing a comprehensive search is available below. Please visit Searching for Theses and Dissertations for more information.

Why aren't all of the UCF theses and dissertations in one place?

  • Honors Theses from Fall 2010 to the Present: In Fall 2010, the Honors College transitioned to electronic theses. Print copies are no longer created.
  • Dissertations and Theses from Fall 2004 to the Present: In Fall 2003, as a result of UCF’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Initiative, ETD was made an option in Spring 2004 and mandatory for graduate students in Fall 2004.  UCF students' dissertations are available full text and image from the Dissertation Abstracts Online database several months after completion.  ETD’s are also stored on the Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA) server for safekeeping.  Through 2007, the Library made and bound one paper copy of the thesis or dissertation for the General Collection (using the established common call number).  The paper copy was fully cataloged at the same time as the electronic copy and included in WorldCat. Print copies are no longer created.
  • Honors Theses Written from Fall 2004 to 2010: There are two fully cataloged print library copies of honors theses (one in General Collection and one in Special Collections) which are classified into the established common call number for theses. Some of the theses are included in WorldCat.  Full text of UCF honors theses is not available electronically.
  • Until Fall 2004: The Library owns 2 print copies of each title.  There is one copy of all theses and dissertations in the General Collection which may be checked out.  Special Collections also has a non-circulating copy of all  pre-Fall 2004 titles arranged by year and author.
  • Dissertations and Theses Written from 1999 to Fall 2004: Starting in 1999 titles are treated like books.  They are fully cataloged with keyword, author and title access, and specific Library of Congress subject headings.  They are not presently included in WorldCat but eventually will be.  They are shelved in the common call number used since 1988: GENERAL COLLECTION LD 1772.F96T45 (year)
  • Dissertations and Theses Written from 1988 to 1999: From 1988 to 1999 titles are partially cataloged.  There is author, title, and keyword access but there are only very general subject headings.  They are not presently included in WorldCat but eventually will be.  They are shelved in the common call number:  GENERAL COLLECTION LD1772.F96T45 (year)
  • Dissertations and Theses Written before 1988: Titles pre-1988 are treated like books.  They are fully cataloged with keyword, author, and title access, a unique Library of Congress call number, and specific Library of Congress subject headings.  They are included in WorldCat.



Searching Online for Theses and Dissertations

Other Resources:

Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR)
Access to the research literature pre- and post-peer-review through author self-archiving in institutional eprint archives.

Purchase a copy through ProQuest
Purchase unbound copies of dissertations and theses with express delivery to your home, school or office. Select from the over 1.9 million graduate works available.

Where can I get more information about ETDs in general?

Many institutions support electronic submission of theses and dissertations. Some general information as well as varying institution specific requirements can be found on the following sites:

Brown University ETD Frequently Asked Questions

Kent State University ETD Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about Virginia Tech ETD Submission and Access

Oregon State University ETD FAQ