ACAT FW: Conflicting instructions in Bib Formats about ETDs being state government publications (OCLC’s answer: yes, they are

Posting to Autocat

Myung-Ja said:

We think that the OCLC’s recommendation, i.e., remotely-accessed electronic theses and dissertations from state colleges and universities in the United States are considered to be state government publications, requires further discussion.

It seems to me that a government document should come from a government agency. From the U.S. Code (1994 US Code
Title 44 – PUBLIC PRINTING AND DOCUMENTS, CHAPTER 19 – DEPOSITORY LIBRARY PROGRAM, Sec. 1901 – Definition of Government publication)
it says:
“Government publication” as used in this chapter, means informational matter which is published as an individual document at Government expense, or as required by law.

This seems like a fairly good definition to me. According to this, a dissertation written at a state college is not a government document because such an item is not written under the auspices of any government agency.

To claim that a dissertation is a government document, seems to me to be making a legal declaration. When something is a government document, in many states it automatically goes into the public domain, or in others it is the respective state that has the copyright.

I don’t know how many authors of the dissertations would agree to that.