Open Access Theses and Dissertations

About OATD – The FAQ

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What can I search for here?

This is an index of over 1.6 million electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). To the extent possible, the index is limited to records of graduate-level theses that are freely available online.

Where do the records come from?

See this list of sites that contribute records to this index.

Many of these schools’ records come from their own repositories. Others come from regional or national ETD consortia, or from a set of ETD catalog records provided by OCLC Worldcat. With few exceptions, records are harvested from these sites using a standard called the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).

What definition of "Open Access" do you use?

We define open access broadly to cover ETDs that are free to access and read online. We encourage authors to consider formally granting additional rights, for example by publishing their theses with a Creative Commons license.

Where does the full text live?

The full text of all papers lives on the original hosting site, usually the repository of the university that granted the degree. OATD indexes about the first 30 pages of some theses in order to show search hits, but in no case does OATD index or store the full text of the paper.

Our school’s ETDs are not in the index. How can we include them?

If your school has a repository of open-access ETDs, check with your repository manager to confirm that it has OAI-PMH harvesting enabled. This is an available option on most ETD or repository platforms, including DSpace, Digital Commons, eprints, ETD-db, and ContentDM. Once you have confirmed that, simply send us the OAI server’s base URL. We recommend that you also register the base URL with opendoar.org and openarchives.org.

If you manage a collection of open access ETDs, but cannot run an OAI-PMH server, please contact us to discuss alternate arrangements. If you have good metadata, we want to include your records.

Our school’s ETDs are in the index, but they don’t show a lot of information. How can we improve them?

There are two causes for this problem. The first is that your repository’s OAI-PMH server doesn’t provide very rich metadata (which may indicate a configuration problem with your repository software). If so, you should work with your repository manager. The second reason is that good metadata is being put into fields we didn’t expect (for example, if publication dates are in note fields, we may not display them correctly). In that case, drop us a line to let us know what we’re missing.

I just found my thesis or dissertation on this site, and I’d rather it wasn’t available on the Internet. Can you remove it from your index?

My thesis is available online, but I can’t find it in your index. Can you add it?

I just found an record with a problem in it. Can you fix it?

The answer to all these questions is the same: talk with the school that provides the record. They may have policies about restricting access to the full text of a thesis, and they control the quality and availability of the record’s data.

Record changes at the originating site will not be reflected in OATD immediately. Records that are deleted or marked as unavailable will remain in OATD until we completely reindex the originating site’s records.

If I have questions about OATD itself, whom should I contact?

Please send any questions or comments to Thomas Dowling, dowlintp@wfu.edu.

Who runs OATD?

The OATD steering committee is:

Thomas Dowling
Director of Technologies
Z. Smith Reynolds Library
Wake Forest University

Martin Courtois
Repository Manager
Scholarly Communications and Publishing
Kansas State University Libraries

John Hagen
Consultant/Owner
Renaissance Scholarly Communications

Molly Keener
Scholarly Communication Librarian
Wake Forest University

Cailin Nelson
Digital Initiatives Librarian
Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC) – Gainesville

Ryan Steans
Director of Operations
Texas Digital Library

Zoe Stewart-Marshall
President (2012-2013), Library and Information Technology Association

And our thanks for the kind support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University, and for the efforts of the many people who make their ETD content available to the world.

Are there other thesis and dissertation search services? How does OATD compare?

The best known commercial service for searching dissertations is Proquest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT). PQDT includes many, but not all, U.S. dissertations, and a smaller percentage of U.S. masters theses. Access to PQDT is restricted to subscribing institutions: ask your library if you have access. PQDT records are primarily not open access, and Proquest charges for full text access to most theses and dissertations that they index.

The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) maintains a union catalog of ETDs. The NDLTD search services do not always differentiate between ETDs that are open access and those which are restricted.

OATD works hard to index only graduate-level theses and dissertations that are freely available to download and read right now. To the extent possible, we leave out closed-access and embargoed ETDs.