Debate on this issue has been swirling in scholarly communication circles for some time, reflecting and probably causing, a fair amount of anxiety among students. Often the debate is fueled by misinformation.
On Thursday the Harvard University Press blog included a very evenhanded post on the issue.
For the full flavor of the opinion, please read the whole post, but below are a few important points:
"Most people involved in this discussion likely understand that a publication-ready dissertation is a rare thing. Generally speaking, when we at HUP take on a young scholar’s first book, whether in history or other disciplines, we expect that the final product will be so broadened, deepened, reconsidered, and restructured that the availability of the dissertation is irrelevant. ....
HUP Assistant Editor Brian Distelberg, for instance, notes how a project’s discoverability can be the means by which his interest is sparked:
I’m always looking out for exciting new scholarship that might make for a good book, whether in formally published journal articles and conference programs, or in the conversation on Twitter and in the history blogosphere, or in conversations with scholars I meet. And so, to whatever extent open access to a dissertation increases the odds of its ideas being read and discussed more widely, I tend to think it increases the odds of my hearing about them
In this whole discussion, academic publishers tend to be characterized as a strangely passive lot, sitting back, keeping the gate, waiting for scholars to come to us and meet our terms for entry. If that was ever the case, it certainly is no longer. An enormous part of a university press acquisitions editor’s job is to be out scouting for new voices, new ideas, and new inquiries. And as Distelberg notes, much of that scouting takes place online, where these conversations are happening. If you can’t find it, you can’t sign it."