In most academic institutions, a graduate student who is completing her studies is required to submit multiple copies of the thesis or dissertation. Three copies are usually required: one for the university archive, one for the adviser and one for the student. Many universities require the copy that is printed for the archive to be printed on a special kind of paper to maximize its durability.
What Paper Is
Most paper today is made from wood pulp that is processed into a slurry with water and then manufactured into large thin sheets. It is whitened through the application of chemicals. These chemicals leave an acid residue in the paper that make it less durable over time. Other, more expensive processes can whiten paper without using these chemicals, and the result is paper with no acid in it, which is known as archival-quality paper. It lasts for far longer than the more common, cheaper kinds of paper.
The requirements of Princeton University give a representative idea of how exacting most universities are when it comes to paper for theses and dissertations. Princeton requires that the paper be acid free, "archival quality bond," 8 1/2-by-11 inches, printed on only one side and between 20- and 24-pound substance (a measure of the strength of the paper). Princeton also recommends, though does not require, that the paper be made of 25 percent cotton. Prior to the advent of wood-based paper in the 19th century, virtually all paper was made of linen or cotton.
The copies of the thesis that will be going to the adviser and the student are not subject to the same stringent regulations as those going to the archive. Although some students choose to have these printed on archival-quality paper as well, the cost is higher, and normal paper will certainly last longer than the student's lifetime if it is kept away from water.
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