Mike Neuman wrote:
> First, if UMI already constitutes a kind of union catalog of theses and
> dissertations, why should we spend scarce resources to provide a
> duplicative collection?
What resources are prohibitively scarce? Hardwarily, an ETD server can
be a hand-me-down PC with its OS upgraded to (free) Linux. You can do
very well for yourself with free software. In terms of staff time, if
ETD management adds substantially to your workflow, I'd say you're
reinventing too many wheels.
You're talking with librarians? In addition to the points you've
already made: Ask them how much shelving space they'll need for the next
20 years' worth of bound theses and dissertations--or for the last 20
years' worth, if you want to consider retrospective conversion. Do they
have nothing else they'd like to do with that space? Who pays for
binding? Ask them how big a relief it would be to know that no one
could walk in and rip a few pages out of the only copy on campus in
order to save time at the photocopier. Ask them the average number of
times any print dissertation is looked at, by anyone, in a given year
(and then show them usage stats from ETD sites). In other words, how
much do they pay every year to house, maintain, and secure a paper
collection, and how much does that come to, per use?
Ask them to name any other branch of the scholarly literature that is so
routinely unavailable to researchers except through paid document
delivery (the majority of libraries will not send print dissertations
through inter-library loan). Ask them whether their researchers like
downloading electronic journal articles to their desktops; if so, how
much value is there in providing electronic dissertations to the desktop?
Ask them what they tell patrons at the reference desk who rightly point
out that they have online access to journal articles, conference papers,
technical reports, patents, and even books in increasing numbers, but
when they want a dissertation they're given UMI's phone number and told
to crack out a credit card.
> Second, what can be done to prevent downstream piracy and plagiarism of
> freely available dissertations in PDF format. Granted that capability
> for manipulation is limited if the person getting access has only the
> Adobe plug-in, someone intent on misappropriation will have the full
> Adobe package to edit and re-purpose at will. We clarified that placing
> a spurious version of the document in place of the original would not be
> possible, but there was still concern about the possibility of
> misappropriation . . . as is true for any publicly available electronic
> resource. Does anyone have a convincing response to this concern?
Focus on the behavior, not the technology. If I were intent on
plagiarism and only had access to a bound dissertation, I think having
to photocopy it, scan it, and run it through OCR would be only a
medium-sized nuisance - or I'd just buy it from UMI. It would certainly
be faster and cheaper than writing the paper myself.
I'm not an expert here, but wouldn't judicious use of the PDF security
settings handle a lot of this? If copy/paste operations were password
protected, would that convince people? (I've heard rumors that PDF
security is hackable, but you've at least made it as cumbersome as the
old photocopy/scan/OCR option.)
Ohio Library and Information Network
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