17 May 2008

The downside of electronic theses

An interesting item in the Chronicle of Higher Education draws attention to a dispute at West Virginia University about their electronic dissertations policy. This policy applies across the university but has not, until now, affected students in the creative writing programme.

Naturally enough, the students (supported by their professor) do not want their creative works on the Web, since they might well seek a commercial publisher for the output. This seems to be one of those foggy areas of copyright law - a creative work is clearly that of the author and, presumably, copyright rests with the author, not with the institution - such authors are not in the same position as employees of the organization, for whom the situation might be different.

Apparently, this dispute echoes across the US, with other universities experiencing the same dispute.


  1. Sir, reading this topic is really timely as regards to my personal experience and fear. This is rather a personal fear which am sure other students may have.

    I just finished my doctoral degree and now in search for a postdoctoral degree around the Globe. Was told to send my thesis to a particular professor, after sending the thesis as an attachement in a mail, I was now scared that my work may be copied and used. More so coming from a developing nation where internet usage is not as sorphisticated as those of the developed world were the thesis is sent.

    I hope my fear is not real?

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