Electronic thesis initiative:
pilot project of McGill University,
Eun G. Park
Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, McGill University,
Lakehead University Library, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and
Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image,
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, University of Pennsylvania Library,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Purpose – To set up a protocol for electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) submission for the
electronic thesis initiative pilot project at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Design/methodology/approach – An electronic thesis and dissertation submission protocol was
implemented and tested. To test authoring tools, we had 50 students submit their theses or
dissertations using one of four style sheets. Word-processed ﬁles were converted to PDF and XML
formats. The pilot project team evaluated DigiTool’s effectiveness in digital conversion, capture of
metadata and cataloguing, digital content harvesting, digital preservation, and integration with the
student information system.
Findings – All theses experienced some degree of information loss during the conversion. DigiTool is
still being tested for storage, cataloguing, and dissemination capability. For full implementation, three
major issues need to be addressed further: conversion; metadata; and ﬁle formats.
Practical implications – Most of the issues that have arisen during the McGill pilot project will be
mirrored at other academic institutions that are considering electronic thesis submission.
Originality/value – This paper provides insights into the procedures that will arise as institutions
go through the process of introducing electronic thesis and dissertation submission.
Keywords Electronic document delivery, Theses, Academic libraries, Canada
Paper type Case study
The acronym ETD stands for electronic theses and dissertations; thus, “an ETD is an
electronic document that explains and presents the research outcome of a graduate
student” (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), 2003).
ETD systems are computerised systems to submit, capture, archive, manage,
distribute, and provide access to electronic theses. The ﬁrst ETD project was launched
in 1987 at Ann Arbor, Michigan, by University Microﬁlms International (UMI).
Virginia Tech began to develop technology and procedures for electronic thesis
submission in 1997. Now, Virginia Tech and about 200 other universities participate in
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received 16 July 2006
Revised 31 October 2006
Accepted 2 November 2006
Program: electronic library and
Vol. 41 No. 1, 2007
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited