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Electronic Dissertations

In what seems like a parody of the academic process, C. Robert Phillips III, a classics professor at Lehigh University, suggests that Ph.D. dissertations be filed and forgotten, rather than exposed to public view (P. Gwynne, "Electronic Posting Of Dissertations Produces Publishing Dilemmas," The Scientist, Oct. 27, 1997, page 1). He worries: "In five years' time, people may not want to be associated with their Ph.D. dissertations. With my own, I thought: 'I'm really glad that this isn't on libr

Joshua Lederberg

In what seems like a parody of the academic process, C. Robert Phillips III, a classics professor at Lehigh University, suggests that Ph.D. dissertations be filed and forgotten, rather than exposed to public view (P. Gwynne, "Electronic Posting Of Dissertations Produces Publishing Dilemmas," The Scientist, Oct. 27, 1997, page 1). He worries: "In five years' time, people may not want to be associated with their Ph.D. dissertations. With my own, I thought: 'I'm really glad that this isn't on library shelves.'"

His policy would be a positive encouragement for mediocrity in the pursuit of the Ph.D. and to inculcate disregard for the very canons of responsibility that should be the prime principles of scholarly commitment.

To the contrary, posting has a number of virtues: Most important, it would effectively expose the research to review by scholarly peers. If as a by-product it also held thesis supervisors and...

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