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Theses go full Spectrum

Paper phased out as Concordia switches to electronic thesis submission
April 4, 2011
By Karen Herland
Source: Concordia Journal

The university’s digital research repository will be the virtual site for future thesis submission. | Photo by Concordia University
The university’s digital research repository will be the virtual site for future thesis submission. | Photo by Concordia University

Concordia’s graduate students who expect to wear cap and gown this June have one less thing to worry about as they ensure that they have met the criteria for successfully earning their degrees.

Completed all required credits: check. Applied to graduate: check. Invited friends and family: check. Had multiple copies of final work printed, bound and delivered to the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), the libraries and the appropriate department: not so fast.

After a successful pilot project, the SGS has opted for electronic thesis submission in Spectrum, Concordia’s research repository. Students still need to submit paper copies to their supervisors before their defense (both at the doctoral or masters level). However, as of the 2011- 12 academic year, the final, corrected submission will go straight to Spectrum.

Graduate students have been repeatedly notified of the impending switch in correspondence and it is now officially explained in the Graduate Student Calendar. In addition to a successful pilot project, the changes had to comply with regulations for submissions and not contradict previous guidelines.

The decision also affects Concordia’s relationship with ProQuest, a North American database that compiles theses from across the continent and makes them searchable. Jocelyn Godolphin, Associate Librarian, Collection Services explains that in the past, ProQuest would scan theses, and then transfer the scans to microfilm. This system was not entirely foolproof because it relied on print recognition software for searchability. Using entirely digital files improves the capacity for searchability, reduces error, improves image quality and takes less time to put in the ProQuest database. Theses are also submitted to Library and Archives Canada, a resource that announced a switch to digital archiving for theses by 2014.

Although it’s difficult to quantify this change, Concordia receives an average of more than 400 theses and dissertation submissions each academic year, averaging about 200 pages each. Previous regulations required multiple copies to be submitted to the library and individual departments, in addition, students also printed personal copies. Preparing these documents represented additional expenses for graduating students, usually in the hundreds of dollars.

Although individual departments across the university can continue to require departmental copies, the likelihood is that paper submissions will soon be a thing of the past across the university.

Related links:
•    Spectrum
•    Spectrum pilot project in the Journal
•    Thesis submission guidelines
•    Library and Archives Canada
•    ProQuest

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