VT University Libraries

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Optional ETD Phase: March - December 1996

This third developmental phase is being conducted by the Scholarly Communications Project in cooperation with the Graduate School and the Computer Science Department. Please direct your comments and questions about library processes and public access to Gail McMillan at or 1-9252.

VT University Libraries

ETD Background Information

What is this?
University Libraries has developed online access to theses, dissertations, technical reports, and special reports (i.e., ETDs), in cooperation with the Virginia Tech Graduate School and the Computer Science Department. We started small in February 1995 by making available some sample files. In March 1996 the University Libraries agreed to waive the $20 archiving fee as a way of encouraging graduate students to submit their theses and dissertations electronically, instead of three paper copies. This fee will be waived January 1997 when the Graduate School will begin requiring ETDs, and the library will only occasionally receive paper theses and dissertations. During the next few months the Libraries will refine its processing of ETDs and improve searching and accessing.

Who will have access to ETDs (electronic theses and dissertations)?
The Libraries are providing unrestricted access to Virginia Tech ETDs. Anyone with Internet access and a World Wide Web browser (we recommend Netscape 2.0 or higher) will be able to read, print, and download these materials. There are also Internet workstations available throughout University Libraries and the Virginia Tech campus with the requisite software.

How can I find an electronic thesis or dissertation?
Direct access through the Web is at From this screen you can select to browse the list of currently available ETDs or you can initiate a search by entering one or more words.

In addition, ETDs can be found through the Libraries online catalog, VTLS. Standard searches by author (a/Childress), title (t/odb/Tools Project Report), and keyword or phrase (among other things) will locate ETDs. Then "copy" the URL (Uniform Resource Locator, i.e., the Internet address) from the bibliographic record and "paste" it into a Web browser, to get directly to an ETD.

Will ETDs be available only to people who have their own Internet access?
No. Workstations are currently available in the Newman Library Media Center (second floor) and in computer labs on the Virginia Tech campus. From these stations, people can download to their diskettes and print through networked printers--usually at cost.

Will these materials be limited only to online/Internet access?
Yes. The library will not be receiving paper copies or microfilm copies to add to the shelves of Newman, branch libraries, or the Storage facility. UMI plans to continue providing microfilm copies of ETDs.

How are materials prepared for ETDs?
Authors prepare their theses, etc. using word processors and other software packages they deem appropriate. The document is translated to Adobe Acrobat PDF (Portable Document Format) files which retain all the features of the original work. The finished thesis, approved by the student's committee, is submitted to the Graduate School which forwards it to the University Libraries for cataloging and public access through the World Wide Web.

In addition to text, ETDs can include graphics (still and animated), as well as digital audio and video data. These can be prepared using various file formats (e.g., PostScript, MOOV, PICS, AIFF, etc.) and converted to PDF for submission to the Graduate School. In addition, Acrobat Exchange (software) can be used throughout the ETD preparation stages to ease communication with the graduate student's committee so that conversion to PDF is not an extra step, but has ben integral to the preparation of the work. Software and equipment are available to the public in the Newman Library's New Media Center and elsewhere on campus.

Why are graduate students required to use Acrobat PDF?
Portable Document Format means that the files are platform independent, that is, readers will get the same document whether they are using Macs or DOS/Widows machines. In addition, authors have control of how their documents display and, therefore, print, and readers cannot change that look as they now can with many document available on the World Wide Web.

How to Access a Virginia Tech ETD

The Newman Library Media Center, in addition to various computer labs on campus (e.g., Hillcrest 2, McBryde 126, and Wallace 342), has the appropriate equipment, Internet connections, and software, including the Adobe Acrobat Reader. There are also workstations available near the Newman Library Reserve Desk.

Media Center Hours
      Break and holiday hours will vary.

Monday-Thursday........8 am - 11:45 pm
Friday................................8 am - 8:45 pm
Saturday..........................11 am - 8:45 pm
Sunday.............................11 am - 11:45 pm

However, access to Virginia Tech's theses, dissertations, special reports, technical reports are not limited to campus computer labs. With an Internet connection, a World Wide Web browser (such as Netscape), and Acrobat Reader (it's free on the Internet), anyone can access ETDs.

To get a Web browser click on the one you want: Netscape or Mosaic.

To get Acrobat Reader, download it from the Scholarly Communications Project's ETD home page.

You must have Acrobat Reader to read, to print, and to download to diskette any PDF file, including Virginia Tech's ETDs.

Below there is also information about how to configure your computer so that the Acrobat Reader will activate whenever you request an PDF file. Opening the Acrobat Reader for individual files--different from automatically invoking the Reader whenever an Acrobat file is accessed-- can also be done from the Apple tool bar. See below How to Read an ETD using a Mac.

How to Read an ETD using a Mac

Access the list of available ETDs at html.

If the Web browser you are using has not been configured to automatically launch the Acrobat Reader, when you click on a title you will get gobbledygook until this file is brought into the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

To launch the Acrobat Reader for a single document:

From the Apple tool bar

  • select File
  • select Save As
  • find Acrobat Reader (mine was on my Desktop) and click on it
  • Acrobat Reader appears as the window title.
  • Save as: will display the assigned file name. You may rename the file.
  • Format: appears as text.
  • click on Save

    Select Acrobat Reader from the upper right hand corner of the Apple tool bar.

  • click on Open and the Acrobat Reader will appear as the window title
  • click on the file name you want to read
  • click on Open to display the readable text of the ETD you selected.

    Click here for instructions on configuring your system to automatically launch the Acrobat Reader whenever you choose to access a PDF file.

    Fair Use Guidelines

    How to Print an ETD

    If you are using a workstation in Newman Library or the Media Center, your requests for printouts are filled at PhotoCopy Services, located on the first floor of Newman. The printing charge is $.10 per page.

    Display the file (all or a portion of which) you want to print.

    To print the entire file or specific pages of the document

    From the Apple tool bar
    select File
    select Print to display the window describing the printing options. The usual default is
     Copies: 1    Pages: 
    You can modify this by using the tabs and/or the mouse. For example:
     Copies: 3     Pages:  _X_   From: _6_ To: _7_
    click on Print (or Cancel)

    To print a variable portion of the file

    From the Acrobat tool bar
    select the appropriate tool to mark/highlight the portion of the text to be printed.
    From the Apple tool bar
    select Edit
    drag highlight bar to Copy
    Access Microsoft Word (or another application)
    From the Apple tool bar
    select File and drag the highlight bar to New.
    select Edit and drag the highlight bar to Paste.

    The portion of the Acrobat document you highlighted will appear in the body of the document. The formatting has changed somewhat (for example, some paragraph-like breaks and blank lines may be missing), but the content is there.

    Fair Use Guidelines

    How to Download an ETD

    using Netscape

    Insert a formatted diskette into the Mac.

    With the Netscape Web browser, access ETDs at

    Displayed files will be "saved" to the diskette named in the Temporary Directory.

    Fair Use Guidelines

    Fair Use Guidelines

    As a reader of these documents, you must adhere to the copyright law and its provisions for fair use; that is, you may make one copy (e.g., download or print) for your personal reading, research, or education. Any other use without permission from the copyright holder is illegal. You must not use any of these documents to mislead others about the views or competence of the author, nor as part of a commercial product. Any copy that is made should preserve the author's name, the title of the document, and a statement of copyright, if there is one. Making multiple copies for republication would violate the spirit of the agreement under which the authors and the University Libraries provide you with access to Electronic Reserve materials.   derived from USCode, Title 17, sect. 107

    Comments, questions, concerns? Contact Gail McMillan, director, Scholarly Communications Project, at

    updated May 15, 1996