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Retrospective Theses and Dissertations

UCF Libraries is digitizing our collection of Theses and Dissertations published since 1972.

What is an RTD?

An RTD (retrospective thesis or dissertation) is an electronic version of a thesis or dissertation previously published only in print.  UCF Library's RTD project includes all theses or dissertations published at UCF since the first thesis was published in 1972 through mid-2004, after which theses and dissertations were automatically digitized.

How can I get my thesis or dissertations online?

It 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.


Why do you need my permission to scan my thesis?

We ask permission to distribute your work online because, in most cases, you (the author) own the copyright to your work.  There are some instances in which copyright was assigned to another party, such as an employer, and in that case, permission would need to be granted by the copyright holder.  According to U.S. copyright law, "Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form" ( In other words, copyright does not have to be secured or applied for, as it is automatically granted to the creator of the work once the work is in fixed form. 

If you are unsure about the copyright status of your thesis or dissertation, contact Kerri Bottorff and she can investigate it for you.

What are the benefits of RTDs?

An RTD makes historical research accessible to a wide audience. By digitizing your research, it becomes more accessible to scholars all over the world, as well as being more readily searchable than a print document.

How is an RTD created?

It take a few steps to create a RTD from a print thesis or dissertation.  First, and most importantly, we need your consent to digitize and distribute your thesis your thesis or dissertation.  Once that consent is received, library staff will scan and create a pdf document from the print, creating bookmarks to the chapters and making the document searchable.  The digital copy is then uploaded to the library's institutional repository STARS, and an archival copy is sent to the Florida Digital Archive for long-term storage, digital preservation and migration.

Where can researchers find UCF’s RTDs?

Information about print theses and dissertations can still be found in the library's online catalog.  RTDs can be found by searching UCF's institutional repository, STARS.  From there, you can search within the larger theses and dissertations collection by title, author, subject, and many other areas.


How are UCF's RTDs preserved?

Upon digitization and inclusion in UCF Libraries Digital Collections, all RTDs 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.”

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?

That's actually a great question!  Unfortunately I don't have an answer, but here's the breakdown of where each generation of theses and dissertations can be found.

  • 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.
  • 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 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)
  • 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 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.  See the Theses and Dissertations guide for more information on ETDs.