The Texas ETD Repository
The Texas Digital Library, a cooperative organization of institutions of higher learning in Texas, will develop and implement the Texas ETD Repository, a state-wide system for managing the entire life-cycle of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) from initial submission to final publication. This project represents a partnership among academic institutions in the second most populous state in the U.S. and the nation’s third most proficient producer of Ph.D.s. By enhancing previous technologies and developing new technologies to fill unmet needs, the Texas ETD Repository will address all aspects of ETD management, including the submission and workflow processes, digital rights management, discoverability, and long-term preservation.
There is a significant need for a state-wide ETD initiative in Texas. Although there are thirty four Ph.D. granting institutions in the state, only six universities in Texas are members of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD). Only three TDL universities (The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and Texas Tech University) have implemented ETD systems. If the ETD movement continues to grow organically with the adoption of ETD systems on a campus-by-campus basis, the rate of adoption will be slow and uncoordinated, and could result in multiple incompatible systems. By developing a state-wide plan, the TDL can leverage its resources to develop new and innovative technologies while coordinating the development of an interoperable, state-wide ETD system that can serve as a model for other states and/or countries.
The Texas ETD Repository will utilize Manakin, a new XML-based framework for DSpace, to customize the user interfaces of the repository. This will allow branding at the item level, making identification of the institution at which a particular thesis or dissertation was produced possible. This is an essential feature of a state-wide ETD repository.
Further, Manakin allows for the development of new features for DSpace repositories. Using this, the Texas Digital Library will develop new tools for managing the ETD submission, the review process, publication, cataloging, storage, and retrieval.
Finally, based on existing network infrastructures in the state and utilizing the geographically diverse locations of its member institutions, TDL will develop a robust preservation network. This network will comply with Trusted Digital Repository and OAIS specifications.
The Texas Digital Library (TDL) will achieve these goals through the enhancement of open source software and the utilization of open standards. This model will encourage an unprecedented level of access to ETDs through multiple strategies, including open access publishing and the dissemination of metadata to multiple discovery services, such as web search engines, scholarly portals, library catalogs, and reference linking systems.
Vireo – Common Submission System for ETDs
The feature that sets this project apart from other ETD systems is a common workflow interface that each member institution will use — not only for ingestion into the repository, but for the entire lifecycle of electronic theses and dissertations. This system is made possible through the aspect development feature of Manakin, an XML-based customization framework for the DSpace repository.
Named Vireo, this comprehensive system will manage all three stages of the ETD workflow: ingestion, verification, and publication.
The ingestion stage will begin as a graduate student from any Texas Digital Library member institution submits the thesis or dissertation, any supplemental materials, metadata, and copyright authorizations to the common interface.
The verification stage will begin once the complete ETD package is in the system. During this stage, the Thesis Office at the student’s academic institution will ensure that the metadata is complete and accurate, and will undergo the iterative proofing process, sending corrections to the student, who makes the corrections.
Once the ETD is in its final accepted version, the ETD and its metadata will be assigned to the repository for publication, with considerations for embargoes for publication or national security reasons.
This system provides many benefits to the Texas Digital Library and its members. First, this system exposes the academic output of Texas’ scholars to the world, providing much wider distribution than the traditional print model. Second, it provides a central point of discovery for the entirety of ETDs produces in the State of Texas. Finally, this system provides a turn-key ETD solution for smaller academic institutions in the state who do not have the financial or human resources to implement a local ETD system on their own.
The Texas Digital Library is committed to making Vireo and any other software developed during this project freely available and open source, which will allow other states, countries, or organizations to implement similar systems.
Ensuring perpetual access to the state’s electronic theses and dissertations is a vital concern, and a full-featured preservation network will be a crucial piece of the Texas ETD Repository.
TDL will coordinate the long-term security of the collection by implementing a state-wide preservation network that will:
- Be redundant and geographically diverse
- Utilize rich preservation metadata based on PREMIS
- Comply with Trusted Digital Repository and OAIS specifications
The ultimate goal is to spread the responsibility for managing and maintaining the Texas ETD Repository over all members of TDL in order to reduce the risk associated with reliance on any one institution’s resources. Submission of materials to the preservation network will be made through the institutional repositories, and storage of those items will be made in multiple and geographically diverse locations. Combined with a rich preservation metadata standard, the preservation network will enable high quality stewardship for these valuable scholarly resources.
Comprehensive ETD Metadata Profile
TDL will address the shortcomings of Dublin Core by developing and implementing metadata standards based on METS. Maintained by the Library of Congress, METS is a standard for encoding administrative metadata using the XML schema language. METS has the potential to serve the needs of the ETD community through the inclusion of different metadata standards for organizing and describing compound ETDs and encoding rights management and preservation metadata. Through the collaboration of librarians at each member institution, a descriptive metadata application profile based on MODS has already been developed , and efforts are being made to draft metadata standards for rights management, a preservation metadata profile based on the PREMIS metadata standard, and METS-based metadata for the encoding of compound digital objects. Throughout the project, TDL will work directly with the NDLTD to contribute to the development of standards for metadata.