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About GW ETDs

What is an ETD?

An ETD is a thesis or dissertation created as an electronic document (or set of electronic documents) and is said to be “born digital.” The electronic documents that make up an ETD can be created using any popular word processing software program and/or advanced software programs used to produce multimedia elements, such as sounds and animations.

Like a paper-based thesis or dissertation, an ETD describes why the work was done, how the research relates to previous work, what research methods were used and what was found, followed by an interpretation and discussion of the results. 

ETDs at GW

The University uses the ProQuest ETD Administrator to facilitate the submission/approval process of GW electronic theses and dissertations. By submitting to the ProQuest ETD Administrator, the final and approved version of your thesis or dissertation will be deposited to ProQuest's Dissertation and Theses Online Database and the University's institutional repository, GW ScholarSpace

The ETD Program was adopted to allow graduate students to create works of scholarship that are interactive, visually appealing, and readily accessible to a large audience of interested readers. In addition, electronic theses and dissertations can include content that is not easily integrated into paper-based documents, such as high-resolution graphics, charts, images, photographs, and multimedia elements.

Since George Washington University began requiring the electronic submission of dissertations in the Fall 2007, over 1,500 theses and dissertations have been successfully processed using the ETD Administrator system.  

Search for completed theses and dissertations at GW, around the US, and around the world by using GW databases and Web resources.

Why do an ETD?

Creating your thesis/dissertation in electronic format and publishing it online has several benefits compared to writing a traditional paper thesis or dissertation.

1. Improved presentation

You can present your ideas and work in your thesis or dissertation by including photos, graphs, and drawings, animations and sounds, including the use of color in these items. In addition, you can include highly interactive multimedia and simulations in your thesis/dissertation.

2. Increased impact on your field

You will be part of a movement to make scholarly work more accessible to faculty, potential employers, and a larger audience of readers interested in your work. You will advance scholarship in your field by making it easier for other students and scholars to benefit from what you learned in your research.

3. Increased attention to your work

Your work will be read by more people; statistics from other universities show that ETDs are accessed many times more than paper-based theses/dissertations.

4. Increased control

You can control the availability of your thesis/dissertation by choosing:

  • To embargo it (i.e. to make it unavailable to anyone for a specified period of time). For instance, an embargo may give you time to patent an invention revealed in your dissertation or secure a contract to publish a book based on your dissertation.
  • To make it available to interested readers worldwide.

The only potential disadvantage of publishing an ETD is that some publishers may not want to publish a work that is already published on the Internet. However, when this problem exists, it is usually manageable. (see Publisher Issues)

5. Increased understanding of electronic publishing

You will advance your knowledge and skills in electronic publishing by creating your thesis/dissertation as an electronic document (or set of electronic documents) and publishing your work online through the ProQuest ETD Administrator.