Last November, Stanford started accepting digital dissertations for the first time, allowing students to opt out of hundreds of dollars in printing and processing costs. The new program also enabled CC licensing, allowing students to make their work available under a license of their choosing. Of the 60 doctoral students who submitted their dissertations electronically, 52 went with CC licensing, choosing the CC BY-NC license. 47 doctoral theses will be displayed in their entirety in the Stanford Digital Repository. From the Stanford Report,
“The doctoral students who chose the digital route last quarter came from five of Stanford’s seven schools: Earth Sciences (1), Education (2), Medicine (7), Humanities and Sciences (15) and Engineering (35).
Gunnarsdottir’s 160-page dissertation, “Modeling the Martian Surface Using Bistatic Radar at High Incidence Angles,” honed an existing method for evaluating the roughness of the planet’s terrain – one of many factors NASA uses to select landing sites for spacecraft.
She used “The Dish,” the 150-foot diameter radio telescope located in the Stanford foothills, to beam a signal to Mars. Then she analyzed the surface echo detected by the orbiting 2001 Mars Odyssey, the NASA spacecraft carrying science experiments designed to improve understanding of the planet’s climate and geologic history.
“Our results were incorporated into the landing site selection of the 2007 Mars Phoenix Lander,” said Gunnarsdottir, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Iceland in 1999, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Stanford in 2002.”
Since the program is already in place, Stanford expects greater numbers of electronic dissertations this quarter. We hope other universities will take Stanford’s lead in enabling the CC license option for their students’ work. For past dissertations that have been CC licensed by individuals, see my post “CC Licensing Your Dissertations.” “CC licensing increases your creation’s visibility, even if by only a small margin at first. It lets current and future students access and read (and even derive, based on the specific CC license you choose) your work so that they can build and improve upon it—all the while giving credit where credit is due, namely, to you.”