An Analysis of Evolving Metadata Influences, Standards, and Practices in Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Sarah Potvin, Santi Thompson
2016 Library resources & technical services  
LRTS 60 (2) 99 This study uses a mixed methods approach to raise awareness of divergences between and among current practices and metadata standards and guidelines for electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). Analysis is rooted in literatures on metadata quality, shareable or federated metadata, and interoperability, with attention to the impact of systems, tools, and practices on ETD date metadata. We consider the philosophies that have guided the design of several metadata standards. An
more » ... ta standards. An examination of semantic interoperability issues serves as an articulation of the need for a more robust ideal moving forward, rooted in lifecycle models of metadata and concerned with the long-term curation and preservation of ETDs. A s theses and dissertations have evolved in format from shelved print resources to electronic files housed in institutional repositories, recordkeeping practices have been developed to account for the description of theses' content and their administration across a lifecycle marked by institutional approval, deposit, publication, and preservation. 1 These practices are based in standards and recommendations issued at institutional, regional, national, and international levels. As Pargman and Palme have argued, "What can and what cannot be expressed when it comes to electronic communication is, in the end, determined by the underlying and in many respects invisible infrastructure of standards that enables (and, at the same time, constrains and restricts) such communication." 2 This paper attempts to raise the visibility of the standards and infrastructure, philosophies and practices that enable and constrain the expression of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) as records. Development and Application of ETD Metadata Standards The development and application of ETD metadata standards, and the resulting quality, consistency, and interoperability of the metadata produced and exchanged, incur major implications for the discovery and long-term preservation of these unique student works. As Arms et al. asserted, "The goal of interoperability is to build coherent services for users, from components that are technically different and managed by different organizations." They noted that "This requires agreements to cooperate at three levels: technical, content Sarah Potvin ( is a Digital Scholarship Librarian at Texas A&M University Libraries.
doi:10.5860/lrts.60n2.99 fatcat:r2ctueqbbncjldwgvzshbeipka