The English Department was delighted this year to begin offering its honors students the opportunity to deposit their theses in Stanford Digital Repository. We are excited that SDR has given us a new opportunity to celebrate, share, and preserve the accomplishments of our undergraduates.
Traditionally, you do not “arrive” as a humanities scholar until you file your PhD dissertation: with that document, you are (at last!) recognized as taking your place in the forum of scholars. It is certainly a well-earned distinction…but isn’t it rather late? And are there no contributions by undergraduate students worthy of that community?
Honors theses mark decisively the move from undergraduate coursework to mature scholarship. The students in the English Honors Program spend a full year writing their theses, working in collaboration with their advisors, Honors Director Alice Staveley, and graduate mentors to create a work of scholarship that makes a dynamic contribution to their field. The English Department is proud of its honors students, who regularly win university-wide awards based on their exciting work. Students who complete theses have demonstrated their mastery of research and writing, and their readiness to undertake extensive projects of any stripe: graduate, personal, professional.
With SDR, our honors students are now able to share this accomplishment with the world—with future employers, graduate programs, fellow scholars, relatives and friends. By offering a Stanford PURL, Stanford Digital Repository makes this sharing both easy and authoritative. And it guarantees that, whatever contingencies of hardware or software may arise, the students themselves will maintain access to their own work.
Our experience in implementing this program has been both happy and instructive. Hannah Frost has not only developed an intuitive and thorough platform, but guided us through every step of the process. We want to give a big shout-out to Physics Librarian Stella Ota, who explained the program from the departmental perspective and who wrote and shared the first-rate documentation for students on using SDR. In this, our first rollout of SDR for our students, we learned a great deal, from the intricacies of Creative Commons licenses to the logistics of integrating SDR deposits into our honors program. The process gave students an introduction to the significant details of public-facing academic work: keyword choice, writing abstracts, copyright law.
Use of SDR for our students this first year was optional, and was not configured and announced until the later part of the year. Even so, a solid third of our unprecedentedly large cohort took advantage of the opportunity, and their contributions can be viewed here:
We feel SDR has given added value to our students, and we look forward carrying it forward into future years.