Recording, formatting graduate student research

By Hannah Spicher
September 24, 2013 

Libraries are constantly changing and adapting, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that the way they preserve graduate student theses and dissertations is changing too.

Zach Lukemire, The Graduate School’s electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) coordinator, recently convened with fellow ETD enthusiasts to discuss what the digitization of scholarship means for students, faculty, academic libraries and publishers. Among the topics circulated at the 2013 U.S. Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association (USETDA) Conference in Claremont, California were user interests, intellectual property and the impact of digitization on future plans for publication.  

“We’re in a period of great change,” says Lukemire.  “And the policies related to managing, submitting, storing and accessing ETDs are reflective of that change.”

One of the biggest overhauls — the practice of open access — gives free, unrestricted online access to theses and dissertations completed at the University of South Carolina. Although graduate research at USC has always been accessible to the public through the Thomas Cooper Library and Interlibrary Loan, the ease of accessing and downloading the work in digital format is comparatively new. (USC began accepting theses and dissertations in digital format in 2008, but the open access policy has only been in place for about a year.) 

“One of the purposes of a university and a graduate school is to make sure that we have a record of what our students have produced,” says Lukemire.  “Scholar Commons, the Institutional Repository of USC, facilitates that.” 

Lukemire previously worked at the repository, and is currently a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science. Although he also has a background in political science and law, his overrriding interest in metadata and digital preservation is clear.

“When people find out I’m in library school, they always ask me if I’m afraid libraries will disappear. But the need to effectively store and use records is not going to disappear!” he says. “Libraries are not static. They have always been able to change and adapt to fulfill the informational needs of the public.”

The creation of new knowledge leads Lukemire to work with graduate students on formatting theses and dissertations for publication in the USC repository.

“My job is to help students with formatting so that they can focus on content,” he says. 

Earlier this year, The Graduate School introduced workshops to simplify the processes of formatting ETDs. The workshop season for the fall term recently ended, but The Graduate School will be offering the ETD Formatting Workshops again in the spring for students graduating in May and August 2013. 

“It’s a lot easier,” says Lukemire, “to address these issues early on rather than at the last minute. When you’re up against a deadline, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not a margin is correct.”