UMI has launched Open Access publishing of dissertations. "Open Access" describes content that users can access free of charge.
According to the UMI/ProQuest website, "graduate student authors that choose to publish their graduate works on an open access basis will be significantly increasing the reach of their research."
The site promotes the benefits of Open Access publishing:
"The primary benefit of Open Access publishing is that it guarantees the widest possible exposure of your graduate research. It can also help ensure that the officially published version of your dissertation or thesis is the most widely available version in the primary literature. This way, a single version of each graduate work is disseminated, whether directly from your institution or from ProQuest, preventing the circulation of unpublished versions."
There is a PDF charting the comparison between Open Access publishing and ProQuest's traditional dissertation publishing service at http://il.proquest.com/products_umi/dissertations/epoa.shtml.
What do you think? Would you publish your dissertation for all to access for free, electronically?