ETD Guide/Introduction/Improving graduate education, and quality/expressiveness of ETDs
Around the globe, people have diverse views toward graduate students and graduate education. Some universities have strong advocacy for graduate students, often involving a graduate school and graduate dean. Others have no focus whatsoever on graduate students as a group, with all support thereof assumed to come by way of faculty mentors and advisors. Regardless of the local context; however, few would argue that graduate students should have fundamental knowledge and skills that will allow them to be effective researchers.
ETDs in Graduate Education
Accordingly, the move toward ETDs aims to enhance graduate education in effective researching. Building on the fact that students learn best by doing, this move encourages students to create and submit their own ETDs, thus learning a bit about electronic publishing and digital libraries in the context of preparing a work that is of importance to them. In particular, they need to gain some knowledge and skill in electronic document preparation, understanding not only the superficial aspects of relevant tools, but also beginning to learn about such processes as archiving, preservation, cataloging, indexing, resource discovery, searching, and browsing.
Aids in Communication
Furthermore, once students become exposed to electronic documentation preparation processes, they often become aware of aids to help them communicate. Tools can be utilized to help with figures and drawing, to assist with analysis and graphing, or to support sharing and interactive exploration of data (e.g., through spreadsheets or database management systems). Images can be prepared as thumbnails that go into the body of a document to help the reader, as well as in varying sizes and resolutions to promote in-depth analysis.
Readership and Quality
Beyond these tools and aids, however, is the fact that authors spend more time when their likely readership is large. Students will tend to produce higher quality work, and faculty will demand better writing and clearer presentation of results, if the audience for a work numbers in the hundreds or thousands, as opposed to the common current situation where a mere handful will read the document. With ETDs leading to large numbers of accesses, many students and faculty will work hard to enhance quality beyond that commonplace prior to the advent of ETDs.
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