Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

More on OA for theses and dissertations

Kim Thomas, Don't let the grey fade away, Information World Review, May 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

Despite its distinctly unglamorous name, “grey” a hot topic in the library world....

One of the biggest success stories has been electronic theses and dissertations. The pioneer in the field is Virginia Tech University, which began making theses and dissertations available electronically in 1995.

Many higher education institutions around the world have followed suit by making the electronic deposit of PhD theses mandatory.

While students have, on the whole, been happy to deposit their theses in an electronic repository, says [John Hagen, manager of institutional repository programs and co-ordinator of the electronic thesis and dissertation programme at the University of West Virginia], there have been some issues.

“We’ve realised the political difficulties, with the tradition of publishers being reticent to publish material that had already been distributed on the web,” he says, “so it’s taken some time for us to work with faculty, graduate students and publishers to find common ground where everyone can be comfortable in providing open access to their research.”

One of the key factors in persuading people, Hagen says, has been Stevan Harnad’s research, which showed that papers made available under an open access model are cited more frequently (sometimes as much as five times more frequently) than those that are not....

Many UK universities now have institutional repositories that hold electronic theses and dissertations. But it can still be difficult to find theses on a particular topic if it means carrying out individual searches on each institutional repository.

The Electronic Theses Online Service (ETHOS) project, a partnership between the British Library and institutions of higher education, is creating a central service that, from September, will enable users to access electronic theses and dissertations held by UK institutions. Institutions can deposit them at the central portal run by the British Library; if they choose not to, users searching for a particular thesis will be redirected from the portal to the relevant institutional repository.

Neil Jacobs, programme manager at the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), which is part-funding the project, says: “Theses are digitised on demand, so if someone comes to the service and asks for a thesis from 1861, the service will go back to the relevant institutions to ask for the thesis so it can be digitised.”

Other European countries are also making theses and dissertations available electronically. The French national catalogue, Sudoc, lets users search academic repositories throughout the country. Other countries, such as Sweden, Germany and Holland, have similar catalogues, says Christiane Stock, head of monographs and grey literature at France’s Institute for Scientific and Technical Information. Most e-repositories use the open access initiative protocol for metadata harvesting (OAIPMH), which allows search engines and catalogues to pick up their metadata....