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Friday, June 15, 2007

OA mandates for ETDs growing in Australasia

Australasian Digital Theses Program: Membership survey 2006, February 2007.  (Thanks to CAUL.)  Excerpt:

The key findings of the survey are:

  1. The average percentage of records for digital theses added to ADT is 95% when digital submission is mandatory and 17% when it is not mandatory. This implies that less than 22% of students submit a digital thesis when it is not mandatory when you take into account the small percentage that are not added to ADT [Australian Digital Theses] for copyright or embargo reasons (up to 5%).
  1. 59% of respondents will have mandatory digital submission in place in 2007.
  1. With this level of mandatory submission it is predicted that 60% of all theses produced in Australia and New Zealand in 2007 will have a digital copy recorded in ADT.
  1. Two respondents have retrospectively digitised all or nearly all of their theses, and nine have projects underway....
  1. Over half the respondents have a repository already and most are using it to manage digital theses.
  1. 87% will have a repository by the end of this year, and the rest are in the initial planning stage.

Comment.  This is very good news.  For ETDs, mandatory digital submission is essentially equivalent to OA.  Here's how I put it last year:

In principle, universities could require electronic submission of the dissertation without requiring deposit in the institutional repository.  They could also require deposit in the repository without requiring OA.  But in practice, most universities don't draw these distinctions.  Most universities that encourage or require electronic submission also encourage or require OA.  What's remarkable is that for theses and dissertations, OA is not the hard step.  The hard step is encouraging or requiring electronic submission.  For dissertations that are born digital and submitted in digital form, OA is pretty much the default.  I needn't tell you that this is not at all the case with journal literature....

Update. Also see Arthur Sale's comments on the report:

It is apparent from the report (and indeed highlighted by the authors) that a mandatory deposit policy results in a submission rate of 95% of all theses accepted, while its absence results in a submission rate of 17-22% (in other words, a pitifully empty repository). While this should not be news to anyone, the report has hard quotable facts on the success of an institutional mandatory policy over a substantial population of universities.

59% (ie 33) of Australian and New Zealand universities have mandatory deposit policies in place in 2007, so the technological change has gone well beyond the tipping point. I expect the remaining 41% of universities to follow suit in the very near future; the report suggests that 24% had already started planning to this end in 2006.

In another interesting fact, three universities have provision for a thesis to be lodged electronically only (in other words no paper copy) and one is considering it. It is not clear how much this provision is used for hypermedia theses, or if it will spread.