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Stanford Dissertations Moving from ProQuest to Google An interview with Mimi Calter

Minow: Stanford is partnering with Google to make student dissertations available worldwide. What does Google bring to the table that simply using the Stanford Digital Repository on its own does not?

Calter: Google provides broad distribution. We’ll be using the Stanford Digital Repository for preservation, and we’ll be making the dissertations available through our online catalog, but working with Google dramatically increases the visibility of the materials. We think that visibility is an advantage for our students.

In the long run, we hope that other schools will join us in contributing their dissertations to Google, and that “Google Dissertations” will become the go-to resource for dissertations, theses and similar materials.

Minow: What is Stanford’s policy on copyright and student dissertations? Are students required to give permission to the University to copy and distribute their dissertations?

Calter: Per Section 5.2 of the Research Policy Handbook (, Stanford’s students retain copyright in works they create as part of their coursework, including dissertations. Therefore, Stanford does need the students’ permission to preserve and distribute those dissertations. As part of the standard submission process, students grant Stanford a license to do so. It is a license only, and students retain full copyright in their work.

The submission process also allows students to apply a Creative Commons license to their work. We hope that this addition will raise awareness of the Creative Commons option, and further increase the accessibility of these materials.

Minow: I understand that this move away from ProQuest means that Stanford student work will no longer be included in Dissertation Abstracts unless the student makes an affirmative effort to submit to ProQuest. What are the implications for the broader research world of such a step?

Calter: It is a concern, but our sense is that the wide availability and visibility of the dissertations through the Stanford catalog and Google will more than compensate for the lack of a listing in Dissertation Abstracts.

Minow: Google has been harvesting electronic dissertations for several years. How does Stanford’s submission of the dissertations differ from Google’s past practices?

Calter: The submission process that Stanford is using is similar to the one that publishers are using for Google Book Search. So we’ll be submitting metadata along with the dissertation files, and expect to have more descriptive listings than just titles.

* Mimi Calter is Assistant University Librarian & Chief of Staff for Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources.

Mary Minow is Executive Editor of the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Website.