ETD Release Policies in American ARL Institutions: A Preliminary Study
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The advent of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) has improved access to graduate level research, but with these new opportunities come new challenges. Institutions that host ETD collections must develop release policies that meet the requirements of intellectual property law and balance the needs of multiple stakeholders. These include graduate students, faculty, universities, and commercial publishers. Despite functioning in similar legal and cultural environments, analysis reveals that institutions have implemented a diversity of release policies. This lack of consistency suggests a lack of information and lack of standards in the ETD community. An improved understanding of the issues and options can encourage a new culture of cooperation and help inform institutions that are planning or have implemented ETD programs. This paper provides a preliminary analysis of policies that are currently in place at American institutions that are members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The study was conducted by analyzing release policies that are posted on publicly accessible web sites.