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Evaluation of options for a UK electronic thesis service: study report

Swan, A.; (2006) Evaluation of options for a UK electronic thesis service: study report. Key Perspectives Ltd and UCL Library Services: UK. Green open access

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Abstract

The British Library (BL), JISC, UK HE institutions and CURL have funded an 18-month project to develop a national framework for the provision, preservation and open access to electronic theses produced in UK HE institutions. The project, called EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) was developed in response to a competitive tender invitation released by the JISC and proposes a service set up and run by the British Library. The British Library’s current service, the British Thesis Service, offers access to around 180,000 doctoral theses, predominantly from 1970 onwards, though it is estimated that overall some half million theses dating from the 1600s are in existence in the UK. Around 80% of requests are for theses published within the last 13 years and almost all of these exist only in hardcopy. Through this service, theses are acquired ‘on demand’ and delivered on microfilm at a cost of just over £60 to the user (and at this price the service runs at a loss). Whilst this service, coupled with the Index to Theses (Expert Information), enables the location of and access to relatively recent British theses by the determined seeker, no one could argue that the process is optimised. As a result, usage of theses is much lower than it might be and much research is going unnoticed and unused as a result. Conversely, it has been shown that when theses are easy to locate and access, usage is high: at Virginia Tech, a pioneer site in the provision of a formal, systematised ETD (electronic theses and dissertations) service, downloads have been shown to increase over 30-fold when a thesis is available free online and easily located. A national service for the UK that provides discovery and access to theses in electronic form via the Web will increase the utility of doctoral scholarship. A single interface that directs users to theses wherever they are held, and which addresses the issues of intellectual property, permissions, royalties, preservation, discovery, and other matters associated with the public provision of theses in electronic form, will be of great benefit to the scholarly community in the UK and across the world. The EThOS project (Electronic Theses Online Service) was commissioned to develop a model for a workable, sustainable and acceptable national service for the provision of open access to electronic doctoral theses. The EThOS project team have completed the task and UCL Library Services in partnership with Key Perspectives Ltd have been asked to undertake a consultative study to assess the acceptability of the proposed model to the UK higher education community in the context of other potential models. This document reports the results of this consultative study, including a set of recommendations to JISC and other stakeholders for setting up a UK national e-theses service. The stakeholders other than JISC are: The British Library University administrators (registrars) Graduate students and recent PhDs Librarians Institutional repository managers Other e-theses services including: DART-Europe DiVA DissOnline Australasian Digital Theses Theses Canada Networked Digital Library for Theses and Dissertations The EThOS team

Type: Report
Title: Evaluation of options for a UK electronic thesis service: study report
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Professional Services > Library Services
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/2197
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