Thursday, September 28, 2006

More than 10.000 dissertations online

The Dutch National Dissertation site has been launched. The database contains 10.000 dissertations, coming from all the Dutch universities.

Annually roughly 2500 dissertations are published in the Netherlands. In these dissertations young scientists present the latest concepts in their field of expertise. Formerly the fate of dissertations was that they were left in the attic or on the shelves of the university libraries. Through internet these dissertations are available worthwhile. Colleagues can search the database for material.

The National dissertation site has been developed within the DARE (Digital Academic REpositories), a programme of the Dutch universities, scientific organisations and the SURF Foundation. The objective is to make the research publications available from one point and without restriction. The dissertations are available as a PDF while the dissertation is searchable on bibliographical data.

This news item reminded me of a lecture I presented at the Technical University in Delft in 1994. I had been asked to present a lecture by one of the students’ organisations about new media. Given my background in publishing the scientific dissertation was at the center of my presentation. The presentation had the eschatological title: Will the printed dissertation hold beyond 2000. Of course a title with a question mark.

In the lecture I took the position that the written and printed dissertation had been and still is the full embodiment of the academic education. Given the rise of the new media, the universities should abolish the obligation to deliver a printed dissertation in order to receive a PhD and should allow multimedia productions as dissertations. The idea of a printed dissertation showed that the candidate was well versed in language and the communication medium of that time, print. I am took the position that universities should allow a multimedia dissertation as this proves that the candidate has learned to communicate well using all modern media, recording it on CD-ROM or putting it on Internet.

A printed dissertation is basically text embellished with graphics and/or photographs. With a multimedia dissertation, an engineer can bring in animations, movies, simulations and 3D. Instead of describing in words a medical process, a movie will be more explicit.

However it is now 2006 and the printed dissertation has survived the change of century. The obligation of a printed dissertation has not been abolished. Only some multimedia can be added to the dissertation recorded on CD-ROM.

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Blog Posting Number: 523

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