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The power of the electronic thesis

Delegates at a conference last week called for more academic institutions to make theses and dissertations available online.

Anita Chakraverty(anita@biomedcentral.com)

PASADENA The Fourth International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations, ETD 2001, concluded on 24 March with a call for more academic institutions to make theses and dissertations available online. Eric Van de Welde, chair of the symposium program committee, stressed the importance of increasing access to these works: "the exchange of ideas is the currency of scholarly enterprise."

Electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) consist of masters or doctoral research work that is submitted or archived electronically by an institution, either on an internal network or on the web. Although most ETDs are currently formatted as straight text documents, the electronic medium offers enormous flexibility and can support multimedia, animation and interactive features.

Representatives from more than 15 nations attended the symposium. Many of those visiting from developing countries were sponsored by UNESCO, which is currently setting up international guidelines for ETDs via the Digital Media Institute. UNESCO...

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