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Best Practices

1. Review the University Formatting Guidelines.  We highly recommend you review the university formatting guidelines, ETD style guides and your school's specific guidelines for your thesis or dissertation; it is the easiest way to make sure you have the formatting of your manuscript right and will allow you to focus your energy on content, not format. Other than that:

  • Double space the text.
  • Font type and size: Times New Roman 12 pt
  • Use a 1.25 inch margins on the right and left to allow for binding, 1 inch margins on the top and bottom.
    School of Law: Left margin: 1.50 inches; Right margin: 1 inch; Top and Bottom margins: 1 inch
  • Remove all blank pages in your document.
  • Use tabs rather than the space bar to indent paragraphs or material in tables—it will prevent problems in the pdf file you will be creating.

2. Format Your Bibliographies in the Approved Style for Your Discipline. Make sure that you use the correct formatting scheme for your discipline. The Gelman Library System offers use of RefWorks, an online tool for organizing your research and creating bibliographies, for free to GW affiliates.

3. Get Permissions to Use Others' Works. If your dissertation includes extended quotations, published scales or tests, or other materials owned by others, be sure you have sought permission from the author(s). ProQuest provides a sample letter requesting such permission which you may wish to use. It can be found in their guide: Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis: Ownership, Fair Use, and Your Rights and Responsibilities by Kenneth D. Crews.

4. Copyright and the Use of Your Previously Published Works in Your Dissertation or Thesis. Inclusion of your own previous or future publications, (including co-authored works) requires permission be granted by a publisher and may impact your ETD publishing options. Information on this topic can be found at Using your own previously published works: A guide. Obtaining copyright permissions can take some time, so please start the process well before you are ready to submit your document to the ProQuest ETD AdministratorPlease direct all questions and requests for guidance to Barrett Matthews, the Library’s Compliance Officer.

5. Write your thesis or dissertation in a word processing or typesetting software that you are comfortable using.

6. Check your pdf. When you convert your thesis or dissertation to a pdf file, check it carefully, page by page, to make sure it came through correctly, that no pages are missing, etc. There are tips on preparing manuscripts at the GW ProQuest ETD website; note in these guidelines that you need to "embed the fonts" in your manuscript. The tips include information on how to do this.

7. Recheck the Manuscript! Review important parts of the dissertation such as the title page and abstract, faculty name spellings and academic titles, as well as what you entered on the ETD submission forms, to make sure everything is complete and accurate. Once your submission has been delivered to ProQuest, you will not be able to make any changes to your manuscript.

To avoid any confusion about which draft is the final one, we strongly recommend that you submit only your final, fully approved thesis or dissertation to the GW ProQuest website. If you create "practice" account(s), please be sure to withdraw them from the ETD Website prior to your final manuscript submission.

8. Completing Forms at Submission Site. When you complete the “Contact Information” page at the GW ProQuest ETD website, be sure to complete the item “Permanent Mailing Address” or you will not be able to move on to the next form. Please use your GW email address in the contact information to ensure you receive current information regarding the status of your submission. You may also provide a secondary email address you check regularly in the Notes to Administrator section.

9. Abstract. You’ll be asked to paste your Abstract into a box. Abstracts are not restricted in length, but only the first 350 words will be used in the printed material ProQuest produces. 

10. File Size. The body of your thesis or dissertation must be submitted as a single pdf file. There are not any specific file size limits, but if you are experiencing problems uploading your submission, please contact the Library ETD Administrator for assistance.

11. Supplementary Files.You have the opportunity to submit supplementary files along with your thesis or dissertation; this might be data, photographs, multimedia files, and so on.

12. Open Access vs. Traditional Publishing. GW strongly recommends that you choose Open Access publishing when you are given a choice between that and Traditional Publishing. The current schedule of ProQuest fees are as follows:

Open Access Publishing: $95

Traditional Publishing: $0

Yes, it costs $95 more and you would no longer be eligible for royalties from ProQuest if your dissertation sells enough copies to earn royalties (Traditional Publishing means that interested parties must buy the dissertation through ProQuest, although some universities like GW buy free access for their community). And yes, you may want to make extra certain that making the dissertation available free to anyone who wants it would not interfere with your ability to publish the dissertation with a commercial publisher—See Publisher Issues.

However, few theses/dissertations do earn royalties, and books based on these/dissertations are usually far different than the theses/dissertations on which they were based. Choosing Open Access will make you part of a movement within the scholarly community to make dissertations and other scholarly works readily available to other scholars in the interest of advancing knowledge —See Publisher Issues.

13. Embargoing Your Thesis or Dissertation. In connection with the Open Access and Traditional Publishing boxes, you will be asked if you want your manuscript “embargoed” (held back and made unavailable) for various periods of time. You should hold your thesis/dissertation back only if you have a specific need to do so: (1) to pursue a patent application, which requires not publicly revealing a discovery until the patent application is safely filed, or (2) to pursue a book contract in a situation in which your publisher does not want the work released to the public as a thesis or dissertation. In most cases, any planned book will be so different from the thesis/dissertation that distribution of the thesis/dissertation through ProQuest will not be a problem—see Publisher Issues.  Professional journals generally do not care that parts of an article based on your thesis or dissertation were previously made available through ProQuest’s Dissertation and Theses database.

14. Filing for Copyright. The ProQuest web site will ask you if you want to pay them to file the copyright for your thesis/dissertation with the government or you may file for copyright directly with the U.S Copyright Office. This may be wise if you think that your thesis/dissertation has commercial value and envision that you might sometime want to be in position to sue someone for violating your copyright by using your work without permission. You already hold the copyright by virtue of being the author. If you later discover that someone has infringed your copyright, you can belatedly file the copyright with the U. S. government to position yourself to sue infringers. See Copyright Issues.  

Electronic Theses and Dissertations Administrator: Gelman Library.2130.H.Street.NW.Washington.DC.20052.etds@gwu.edu
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