In our ongoing series of best practices from institutions hosting ETD programs, I share with you the ETD Resource Center at the University of South Florida. Two resources of particular note, the ETD Boot Camp Help Sessions and the mandatory ETD Workshop. The ETD Boot Camp appears to be similar to a program Texas A&M started this past year, named Walk-In Clinics. Our idea was to promote a walk-in serve where students could bring in a paper or electronic portion of their manuscript and get a quick “diagnosis” on the health (aka appropriate format) of their ETD. We offered on-site technical assistance in Word or in pdf conversion. The idea of a boot camp is equally appealling, and I can visualize students getting their ETDs whipped into shape. If any of your institutions has a similar service, let me know. In Texas A&Ms first year, we had mixed results, with very few attending in the fall but a larger response rate in spring. We found that advertising mechanisms made a difference, and we may still need to tweak our message to help students see the value of early feedback.
University of South Florida also indicates attendance at an ETD Workshop (in-person or online) is mandatory for submission. This might be another idea worth exploring. As long as you make available an alternative option to in-person attendance, and if you have any statistics showing the efficiencies that result from students who understand the submission and formatting requirements, this should be an easy sell to your institution. I’m sure we all appreciate the benefits of working with well-prepared students.