How to use a networked digital library for theses & dissertations

The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations is an initiative of an international institution to promote the creation, adoption, usage, and dissemination of “electronic” dissertations and theses. This is a huge step forward for academia. Students and scholars alike can benefit from this service in a number of ways. Whether you are looking for references, checking a citation, or researching your term paper, this service makes your life a thousand times easier.

To use the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Access: Although a part of the database is freely accessible to all, other parts of the database are open to the Virginia Tech students only. You are required to have a Hokier Passport or a library card to access it. There is no cause for distress as there are some sections that are open only to the Alumni
  2. Select Search Parameters with Care: Your search parameters should be specific enough to lead to the right articles, sources, or references. For example, a scholarly article is one that is written by an academic for his or her peers. The target audience is not the public. Scholarly articles are published by academic journals, which are peer-reviewed. Peer-review means that the articles are approved by a board of academics of the same field and then published.
  3. If you enter, “scholarly article” in your advanced search parameters, the engine will turn in only those articles marked as scholarly, saving you time and headache.
  4. Do not let yourself lose sight of your goal: The biggest pitfall of using this database is in the immense quantity of information and data it contains. It is a veritable garden of delights! There is always the chance of being sidetracked and ending up in a mess of wasted hours. Well, not exactly “wasted,” but still that time was meant for your research.
  5. Do NOT think about finding a backdoor into the “students only” or “alumni only’ areas: Unless you want to be banned from one of the best resources available for conducting research. This is ditto for systematic downloading and plagiarism. The library is made for your use and the purpose is to make the theses and dissertations available to a larger audience across borders and divides. You can always email the custodians of the city of knowledge to ask for special access if you absolutely need it.

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