Record number of theses and dissertations deposited at Purdue University in spring 2020

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The Purdue University Graduate School’s Hammer Research Repository set a record for the number of theses and dissertations deposited by graduate students in the spring 2020 term. In May, Hammer received 510 theses and dissertations, compared to 465 deposits in May 2019. While an annual increase is typical, this year’s 10 percent jump in deposits is the largest increase in Purdue’s history and exceeds the average rise in the number of graduate students.

Whether or not the global pandemic was a factor for this unprecedented rise in deposits is not known, but since Hammer was adopted by The Graduate School in 2018, it has been steadily gaining in popularity as a versatile, highly accessible showcase for Purdue graduate student innovation.

The Graduate School’s partnership with the platform, Figshare (part of the Digital Science Technology company) allows Hammer to store theses, dissertations, and other graduate student research outputs at no additional cost to students, and no subscription is required to view or share a student’s research. This is a far more accessible approach than that of most other repositories used to store theses and dissertations.

Theses and dissertations are published as open access documents, and Hammer is indexed with Google Scholar and the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations; indexing with EBSCO Open Dissertations and Open Access Theses and Dissertations is coming soon. The service also incorporates Altmetric, which quantifies and displays the number of shares, downloads, and page views of each submission in Hammer.

In a nod toward the growing diversity and complexity of Purdue graduate student innovation, Hammer accommodates many types of submissions. The Figshare platform features an in-browser viewer which supports over 250 file types.

Ashlee Messersmith, manager of The Graduate School's Thesis and Dissertation Office, said that more non-traditional theses and dissertations are being deposited at Purdue. For example, in another 2020 first for Hammer, Anthony Bushner’s thesis, “Hobbyist Board Game Design Practices: How Do Board Game Designers Craft Their Rules Manuals and Solicit User Feedback on Prototype Games?” includes a manual on how to create board game manuals.

The Hammer Research Repository is not just a digital warehouse for Purdue theses and dissertations. It is available as a research hub for other types of graduate student output, including coursework, directed projects, competition entries, and capstone projects

“The innovation of graduate students is not limited to theses and dissertations,” said Messersmith. “We have in Hammer the opportunity to capture and store in perpetuity an array of innovations that occur throughout a graduate student’s academic tenure and to make that research broadly accessible. This is a great asset to graduate students and a treasure trove of data and discoveries for researchers and the general public.”

Viewers can access the repository at and see research from all fields of study at Purdue, including the regional campuses. Submissions can be searched in a variety of ways, including by research topic, popularity, category, department, and author.

Writer: Beth Ferrier

Source: Ashlee Messersmith,

August 18, 2020

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