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INTRODUCTION This study compares the two most popular ETD management and publishing systems used in the American higher education community today: the commercial ProQuest Dissertation Publishing system and the university repository. METHODS Characteristics of these systems are identified and categorized in order to determine the features, functions, and policies common to both, and those that uniquely characterize one or the other system. Performing such a head-to-head comparison provides valuable information and insights to decision makers responsible for managing or overhauling their university’s ETD program. RESULTS Comparison of characteristics shows the ProQuest system and the university repository both provide functional solutions for submitting, storing, disseminating, and archive ETDs using digital technology. Yet each system also has unique characteristics that distinguish it from the other. DISCUSSION & CONCLUSION The authors conclude that there is no single ‘best’ system for ETD management overall. Rather, it is up to decision makers at each institution to choose an approach that best fits their university’s values, goals and needs. Finally, the authors point out the need for a single portal for ETDs that allows for search and discovery of these unique works of scholarship wherever the full text resides. Future investigation into possible solutions for such an ETD portal would be a boon not only to universities and ETD authors, but to the broader community of researchers, students, professionals and interested citizenry who could benefit from easier access to this this growing corpus of knowledge.


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