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Ohio Electronic Theses and Dissertations Association (OETDA) Conference 2015

18 Mar

When it comes to electronic theses and dissertations, Ohio is unparalleled in its dedication to its students and their research. The OETDA Conference, held on March 6th, 2015, is proof. Though it is a smaller conference, the graduate school and library attendees were engaged and fostered discussion throughout the day, during sessions and breaks. The buzz in the room was palpable as people shared how they help their students and care for their research as ETDs after graduation.

The day began with exciting news of Ohio being selected as the next state to host the national USETDA Conference in 2016. The conference will be held in Columbus and is being hosted by OETDA, with supplemental help statewide as many schools want to be involved with planning. What a wonderful opportunity to show everyone our community supporting ETDs and put it to use.

Next, Austin McClean, Director of Dissertation Publishing at ProQuest, demoed the new Dissertations Dashboard which drills deep into the statistics of who uses your institution’s ETDs. Available to those who purchase PQDT Full Text or Global and the statistics can be broken down to outside of campus and on-campus as well as provide granular download trends, with the ability to compare your institution with its peers. In the works is an Authors Dashboard for people who have uploaded their ETD to ProQuest and Academic Genealogy that shows professors advising on dissertations and a family tree of researchers.

The keynote speaker unfortunately couldn’t make it to the conference itself due to a snow emergency but he was able to give his talk virtually. John Hagen, consultant/owner of Renaissance Scholarly Communications, discussed current and future ETDs trends, including ORCID, Vireo 3 release, security issues, open data, and publishing perils. Since we are in an age of great technology and interconnectedness, we must make the most of the tools and possibilities to support students and promote their ETDs and research to the best of our abilities.

After lunch, I provided a year-in-review for the OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Center which surpassed 52,000 ETDs this fall. A few of the OH-TECH developers, who make the ETD Center possible, attended and helped field questions with me.

Tim Watson, Director of Graduate School Graduation Services at The Ohio State University, discussed the formation of the OhioLINK ETD Council, his role as Chair, and the work the group has done thus far. Graduate and library staff from member institutions are on the council and serve as a liaison between the wider community and OhioLINK and the developers.

Susan Banoun, University of Cincinnati, lead a lightning round panel discussion about library and cataloging trends for ETDs. Emily Hicks, University of Dayton, Sevim McCutcheon, Kent State University, and Sean Crowe, University of Cincinnati, shared their workflows within the library and relationships with the graduate school when dealing with ETDs and providing records for each item into their local catalogs.

Next, Emily Shaw, The Ohio State University, briefly described their latest project of digitizing theses to upload into the ETD Center. Dissertations were done previously and were not nearly as many. Others around the US have done similar projects, including Oregon State, University of Florida, and Arizona State.

To wrap up the day, Lou Haines, University of Miami, shared her experience running a 3 Minute Theses (3MT) competition on campus and played the video of the winning talk. UM is the first school within the state and she encourages others to get involved, offering to help provide resources to get it started on other campuses, hoping to create a network for competitions like other regions in the US. The 2015 competition is underway now, with 27 total participants and 10 finalists who can be at any point in their research process, most from the sciences but several English PHDs are competing as well. This reminds me of Speech in high school and the weekend meets, although 3 minutes makes 8-9 seem like an eternity. What a great way to learn to hone your research to a digestible, brief synopsis, and possibly win some prizes in the process.

OETDA is a wonderful conference and opportunity to spend a day with a niche group who cares about their student and their ETDs. I can’t wait for next years!

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