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Library Philosophy and Practice Vol. 9, No. 1 (Fall 2006)

ISSN 1522-0222

Experimenting with a Model Digital Library of ETDs for Indian Universities Using D-Space

J K Vijayakumar
Assistant Director
Health Sciences Library
American University of Antigua
PO Box W-1451
St Johns, Antigua, West Indies

T. A. V. Murthy
PO Box No 4116, Navrangpura
Ahmedabad- 380009 India

M. T. M. Khan
Professor and Head
Institute of Library and Information Science
Bundelkhand University
Jhansi - 284128 India

ETD - Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) can take a variety of forms, from a Word or PDF version of a printed thesis, to a truly digital publication that includes audio and visual material and may be organized quite differently from a printed thesis[1].

The broader benefits of ETDs have been described as follows [2&3];

    • Broader exposure of university research;
    • New forms of creative scholarship through interactive elements, multimedia, hyperlinks, etc.;
    • Ability to hyperlink to the thesis/dissertation on homepages and electronic CVs;
    • Professional development for researchers who learn the basic skills of scholarly publishing in an electronic format;
    • Conservation of paper, library storage space, and staff time;
    • Faster access, with publication near the point of submission rather than three to four months later;
    • Theses or dissertations accessible to any reader at any time.

ETD System: a Model

Formats for Main Files

When constructing the ETD system, there will be a need to convert files in different formats to a unified format, which can preserve the contents, format and layout of original documents, created by various programs/processors. Still there is no standard electronic format accepted for all kinds of documents, the PDF format is the most popular and adopted in most current ETD systems. It is always better if the text-based portion of the thesis or dissertation is in PDF, which allows documents created through word processing like MS Word, to be made available on the Web in an effective way. PDF retains the appearance of the print version across platforms and browsers[2&3].

Formats for Additional Files

Multimedia supplements can be mounted on an ETD server to support the text, but most ETDs still resemble their print equivalents. As scholars begin to desire better information along with better access to information, then the use of multimedia files will increase. MP3 is the file format of choice for audio files. This nonproprietary file format requires relatively little storage space. Apple QuickTime and MPEG Movie Player can be used to incorporate video clips. The widespread availability of these applications will ensure future access to the contents of ETDs, if the institutions take steps to make the software available by maintaining freely distributed applications by bundling them with corresponding media files on the host server[2&3].

Software to Manage ETDs

In India, for long-term preservation, we have to find an economical way to save digital content for future generations by using a variety of open source archiving solutions. We should give consideration to a number of systems that have already been tested and adopted by respected institutions. These includeDSpace,Eprints,Virginia Tech University's ETD-db,Greenstone, and several other software packages. Many open source packages show some degree of similarity, but the key factors in selection are Suitability, Functionality, Interoperability and Sustainability. Copeland and Penman suggest the following criteria for selecting software for ETD systems [4].

Suitability: Software should be easy to install on a range of hardware and operating systems, and should be available free and open source. The ease of customization and availability of upgrade are prime concerns.

Functionality: It should have an intuitive and appealing user interface for administrator and author, and it encourage authors to submit content. Persistent URLs are essential for preserving longterm access to content. Simple and advanced metadata searching will allow a variety of search methods, ideally with full-text searching. It should be possible to apply metadata that conforms with national or institutional schemes. The software should support any file format or file size.

Interoperability: The software system must comply with the latest version of the 'Open Archives Protocol for Metadata Harvesting' (OAI-PMH), as well as satisfying individual institutional policies for integrating ETDs with other material in electronic repositories. This is an important to ensure that the system will import and export information from one system to another.

Sustainability: Repositories are long-term commitments, and the institution should be confident that the software will offer continued support and development. This is especially important because much ETD, digital library, and institutional repository software is relatively new and untested. As is common with much open source software, once a user community is established, the knowledge base can help 'keep the ball rolling,' by offering support to new users.

There are a number of options to compare when choosing ETD software. Jones, of the UK'sTheses Alive project, evaluated two open source packages to deliver E-theses via a web-based interface:ETD-db by Virginia Tech andD-Space from HP and MIT.ETD-db is specifically designed for ETDs and endorsed by theNDLTD, but was not usable by institutions who wanted to create a repository and host ETD as a part of it. Jones found thatD-Space has a comprehensive and flexible system for applying and storing metadata. Because the Dublin Core registry withinD-Space is customizable, and because of the option to modify the submission interface,D-Space will be able to accommodate future changes to metadata schemas. TheD-Space archive is perhaps more geared toward digital preservation and the level of configuration available within theD-Space administrative area is also excellent [5]. The capability ofD-Space to handle multilingual content, even at the metadata level, using the globally-accepted UNICODE standard, are important issues in countries like India for selecting this solution [6].


D-Space is a digital library system for preserving faculty research[7]. Universities require a system that is strong in interoperability in order to sustain these digital repositories. Repositories must be able to provide access to many different kinds of digital object.D-Space has the flexibility and sustainability that is needed[5]. As an open source system,D-Space is freely available to run as-is, or to modify to meet local needs.

Setting upD-Space Server

D-Space was downloaded fromhttp://dspace.org/. It was installed in a test-bed to experiment with its capabilities and performance. After testing,D-Space was customized and installed on server with a Linux (RedHat 9) platform. Then a request went to the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) site to provide Persistent Identifiers (CNRI Handles), which promotes interoperability among open archives through the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, (OAI-PMH). After the necessary registrations, theD-Space Server went live (Figure 1).

D-Space homepage

Figure 1-D-Space Home Page


Creation of Community and Collection

After the server is set up, the next step is to create a Community, a group that will contribute content toD-Space. Communities have Collections, which contain the content items, or files. Communities determine their own content and user access guidelines. A system administrator creates workflows for content to be accepted, edited, tagged with metadata, etc. The head of a community makes policy decisions where the content is created. Communities manage their own metadata and can also customize the look and feel of their pages inD-Space. Figure 2 shows the creation of a community, ETD@INDIA.

Creating a community

Figure 2 - Creation of Community ETD@INDIA


The next step is creating subcommunities, which are again divided into collections where researchers can submit their theses. Any number of subcommunities and collections can be created, and the following were made according to the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) Scheme.

  • 000:Computer Science, Information and General Works
  • 100:Philosophy & psychology
  • 200:Religion
  • 300:Social Sciences
  • 400:Language
  • 500:Science
  • 600:Technology
  • 700:Arts & Recreation
  • 800:Literature
  • 900:History & Geography

community homepage

Figure 3 - ETD@INDIA Community Home Page

Collections were also created according to DDC. For example, the subcommunity "000:Computer Science, Information and General Works" was divided into collections which can be seen in Figure 4.

  • 010 Bibliography
  • 020 Library & information sciences
  • 030 General encyclopedic works
  • 050 General serial publications
  • 060 General organizations & museology
  • 070 News media, journalism, publishing
  • 080 General collections
  • 090 Manuscripts & rare books

ETD@India homepage

Figure 4 - ETD@INDIA Collections Home Page


Submitting the Item

To submit a thesis, researchers access the Submitting page by clicking on Communities and Collections. They can select the collection that contains their subject. Submitting a thesis has these steps, which are described in the following figures.

•  Selecting the Collection - Figure-5

•  Describe the item (1) - Figure-6

•  Describe the item (2) - Figure-7

•  Describe the item (3) - Figure-8

•  Upload the item - Figure-9

•  Verify the item (1) - Figure-10

•  Verify the item (2) - Figure-11

•  Licensee Check - Figure 12

•  Finishing Message - Figure 13

ETD@INDIA Selecting Collection

Figure 5 - ETD@INDIA Selecting Collection


ETD@INDIA Describe the item

Figure 6 - ETD@INDIA Describe the item (1)


ETD@INDIA Describe the item

Figure 7- ETD@INDIA Describe the item (2)


ETD@INDIA Describe the item

Figure 8 ETD@INDIA Describe the item (3)


ETD@INDIA Upload the item

Figure 9 - ETD@INDIA Upload the item


ETD@INDIA Verify the item

Figure 10 ETD@INDIA Verify the item (1)


ETD@INDIA Verify the item

Figure 11 - ETD@INDIA Verify the item (2)


ETD@INDIA Licensee Check

Figure 12- ETD@INDIA Licensee Check



ETD@INDIA Finishing Message

Figure 13 - ETD@INDIA Finishing Message


Search for an Item

D-Space allows users to find content in a number of ways. Users have high expectations from search engines, so one goal forD-Space is to supply as many search features as possible. Browsing is an important mechanism for discovery inD-Space. The browse features allows the user to view a particular index, such as the title index. The browse subsystem allows users to specify an index and a subsection of that index. Browsable indexes are title, issue date, and authors. The browse can be limited to items within a particular collection or community [8]. The following figures illustrates searching from the Home Page of ETD@INDIA.

• General Search [by Author Name] - Figure 14

• First Level of Display - Figure 15

• Second Level Display - Figure 16

• Full Text Display - Figure 17

ETD@INDIA General Search by Author Name

Figure 14 - ETD@INDIA General Search [by Author Name]


ETD@INDIA First Level of Display

Figure 15- ETD@INDIA First Level of Display


ETD@INDIA Second Level Display

Figure 16 - ETD@INDIA Second Level Display


ETD@INDIA Full Text Display

Figure 17- ETD@INDIA Full Text Display


Metadata for ETD@India

D-Space holds three types of metadata about archived content: descriptive metadata, administrative metadata, and structural metadata. Descriptivemetadata contains a qualified Dublin Core record. Administrative metadata includes preservation information, provenance, and authorization policy data, most of which is held within D-Space's relation DBMS schema, where provenance information is stored in Dublin Core. The structural metadata includes has information on the relationship between parts of an item, and determines its presentation to users [8].

OAI-PMH is an interoperability framework based on metadata harvesting. AnyD-Spaceserver can process OAI-PMH. The Items in the repository will have a unique identifier, e.g., CNRI Handles. An example generated by OAI-PMH, based on the Dublin Core schema, is shown in Figure 18 below.

ETD@INDIA OAII-PMH Metadata Display

Figure 18 - ETD@INDIA OAII-PMH Metadata Display


Metadata can be created at the point of submission. The template provided should have tagged elements for all metadata to be collected, except for rights administration, which must be verified by staff, who also may add supplementary metadata, keywords, and classifications. The default submission procedure ofD-Space does not support automatic metadata extraction. After the license agreement type is selected and recorded in the metadata, the submission process is complete.

The administrator of the system can review submissions and approve or reject them. If an item is not accepted, the administrator's comments can be sent to the author by email. The author can revise the material and resubmit, or review any submitted version with the administrator. Additional duties of the administrator of the ETD System include designating groups who can approve user submissions, and management of user accounts. Individual user accounts can use the local authentication scheme, and D-Space supports customizable authentication systems. After final approval, a message goes to researchers and registered users about the submission of a new ETD. Policies on access to ETDs can also be implemented by the administrator through theDSpace server, for Intranet or Internet access [9]. 

Limitations of the Model

The proposed model uses Dublin Core metadata for describing the ETDs. TheETD-MS Metadata standard especially developed by NDLTD for ETDs can be implemented in this model [10]. The full version of an ETD system can be developed by creating add-ons to D-Space, according to the requirements or practices of a university. This will be a fully automated system, similar to existing practices for writing a dissertation, including registration of a researcher, submitting the proposal, approval by the committee, interaction with the advisor, sending interim reports, submitting the thesis to committee members, comments and revisions by members and advisor, final submission, and award of degree.TAPIR (Theses Alive Plug-in for Institutional Repositories) as an add-on toD-Space is a good example of this. Similar things can be developed for Indian conditions [11].


The proposed model can be used by Indian universities to create their ETDs and provide access either on their Intranet or the Internet. Well-equipped computer labs must be put in place to provide workstations, software, and technical support staff for students writing ETDs. Standards are needed for the presentation of dissertation research [12]. This model is derived by keeping in mind the embryonic nature of this idea in India and, at the same time, the changing technological environment in Indian campuses. Worldwide ETD initiatives should consider being part of OAI for global access to scholarship, so that Indian universities can also benefit from sharing and contributing. At the same time we must consider several strategies for acquiring the latest technological developments, including the availability of free solutions for a better and effective implementation of ICT in Indian campuses.


  1. Robert Gordon University ETD Site, <http://www2.rgu.ac.uk/library/etds/what.html>
  2. University of Pittsburgh ETD Project site, <http://www.pitt.edu/AFShome/g/r/graduate/public/html/etd/copyright.html>
  3. Oregon State University ETD FAQ, <http://oregonstate.edu/dept/grad_school/current/thesis_faq.html>
  4. Copeland, Susan and Penman, Andrew (2004). The Development and Promotion of Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) within the UK,The New Review of Information Networking, 10 (1), 2004: Pp 19-32.
  5. Jones, Richard (2004).DSpace vs. ETD-db: Choosing software to manage electronic theses and dissertations,Ariadne, Issue 38, January 2004. <http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue38/jones/intro.html>
  6. Patel, Yatrik, Vijayakumar, JK and Murthy, TAV. Institutional Digital Repositories / E-Archives: INFLIBNET's Initiative in India ,Proceedings of the 7th MANLIBNET Annual National Convention, May 5-7, 2005, Calicut, India. Pp. 312-318.
  7. D-space Website. <http://dspace.org>
  8. D-Space Technology <http://dspace.org/technology/system-docs/functional.html>
  9. Jones, Richard (2004).The Tapir: Adding E-Theses Functionality to DSpace,Ariadne, Issue 41, October 2004 <http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue41/jones/>
  10. Atkins, Antony, et al. (2004).ETD-MS: an Interoperability Metadata Standard for Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1.00, 2. <http://www.ndltd.org/standards/metadata/current.html>
  11. TAPIR Website <http://www.thesesalive.ac.uk/dsp_home.shtml>
  12. Edminster, Judith (2002).The diffusion of New Media Scholarship: Power Innovation and Resistance in Academe, Dissertation, University of South Florida. <http://etd.fcla.edu/SF/SFE0000035/etd.pdf>



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