Updating Metadata Guidelines To Improve ETD Discoverability and Use


Early proponents of ETDs argued that moving from print to electronic format would make “these works more readily accessible to other scholars,” raising the specter that “...theses and dissertations lie moldering in library basements, with no efficient way for researchers to locate the information that may be contained in them” [1]. Accessibility and discovery remain integral to continued work that frames the possibilities and promises of the ETD movement. The widening embrace of ETDs by universities has heightened the need for shared standards of description, to help identify and manage a growing number of documents.

In recognition of this need, and in an attempt to improve discovery of these materials, members of the Texas Digital Library (TDL) developed and published descriptive metadata standards in 2008.

In the intervening years, new use cases around ETDs have arisen, discrepancies in the standard had been identified, and the Vireo ETD Submission Management System has continued to change. To address these issues, TDL formed a metadata working group in 2014. The group is charged with updating standards and communicating the revised guidelines to other members of TDL.

In this session, members of the TDL ETD metadata working group will speak to our efforts to update the standard based on community standards and best practices and with an eye on flexibility for future use cases. We will provide an overview of the “problem areas” in ETD metadata that we’ve encountered and documented, and share our recommendations for improvement around these use cases. Time permitting, we will also discuss the challenges inherent to updating a community standard, with an eye towards barriers to dramatic shifts. What is the balance that must be struck between ease of adoption and optimal metadata for discoverability and use? [1]

Session attendees will come away with an understanding of some problem areas in ETD metadata and will have an opportunity to hear and discuss the proposed recommendations from the TDL ETD metadata group for a standard for ETD descriptive metadata.

[1] Christian R. Weisser and Janice R. Walker, “Excerpted: Electronic Theses and Dissertations: Digitizing Scholarship for Its Own Sake,” The Journal of Electronic Publishing 3, no. 2 (1997).http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0003.209


This presentation was given at the United States Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association 2015 Conference, Austin, TX, September 30, 2015.


metadata, guidelines, Metadata, Guidelines


Long, Kara, Colleen Lyon, Kristi Park, Sarah Potvin, Monica Rivero, and Santi Thompson. “Updating Metadata Guidelines to Improve ETD Discoverability and Use.” The United States Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association 2015 Conference, Austin, TX, September 30, 2015.