March 28, 2007

Print theses e–submission vs. e–theses

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Open Access (OA) archiving of research in general and of theses in particular does make sense. A different though related question is the treatment of e-theses as examination papers.

E-theses can be multimedia hyperlinked documents that do not retain their richness when printed. How many examiners are going to be comfortable examining such e-only theses?

Some repository software, e.g. E-Prints, can keep track of changes to an object and of actions performed on it. This kind of functionality can be used for preservation, but it could potentially be extended to keep track of changes to the first version submitted of the thesis, then of examiners’ comments and finally of the revisions incorporated accordingly by the candidate.

It looks as if we are entering a period with a spectrum of electronic theses. Alongside any e-only theses that may appear, there are going to be old printed theses digitised, new theses written as a printed document but submitted as an electronic file, print-outs of these, printed theses that had been microfilmed and will be digitised, and so on.

Obviously, there is also going to be a (probably dwindling) proportion of theses that will need to be submitted in print for any of a number of reasons, e.g. for containing copyright off-prints. One would therefore hope that something like the current BL British Thesis Service will remain for such print-only theses, in spite of the prediction in the Detraz (2006) report, “there is strong likelihood that the current BLTS will be withdrawn by the British Library whether a national EThOS service goes ahead or not, leaving no national outlet for the supply of paper theses” [EThOS – Final Report – v.1b – 20.10.2006 , p.10 ]

- 4 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Vicky


    We are currently looking at the potential for e-theses. I wonder if you could expand on why you think the practice of archiving digitised versions of theses makes sense.

    Are you aware of any research which covers the submission of e-theses. This is certainly an area which I think will be far harder to implement in terms of user buy in.

    Any thoughts?

    29 Mar 2007, 14:21

  2. Jenny Delasalle

    Hi Vicky,

    Archiving digitised versions of theses makes sense because it makes them more accessible and more visible. They take up lots of shelf space and are held in store at Warwick, which means that you would have to order the thesis and wait for it to be brought up from store before you would be able to see it: you can’t just come into the library and pick it up off a shelf. Which means that not only do you have the waiting time to contend with, but you can only access it during staffed library opening hours. In addition, being online means that the theses are more likely to be found. This has consequences to beware of, of course, but it also means that students could benefit from being able to access others’ research and the theses may be cited more often, thus boosting the reputation of the authors.

    A digitised version is also one that may last longer – the binding on theses isn’t always substantial, although there are preservation issues with digitised files, of course.

    I’m not aware of research into the submission of e-theses, although that is precisely what Alejandro has been investigating. There are many issues involved such as whether the e-thesis is the one that is assessed, or whether it matches a print version that is assessed, and how you can check that the versions match. (I don’t believe that you can.) If a thesis is submitted electronically it may be several files rather than just one as different software may have been used to generate diagrams, formulae, data tables etc.

    However, given that most theses these days must be produced electronically, and that there are reasons to want to make electronic copies available, it would seem to make sense if there were some way for electronic copies to be submitted.

    30 Mar 2007, 16:14

  3. I could not possibly add much to Jenny’s comment. Some of these links might be useful though:

    See also the JISCmail distribution list: E-THESES-UK

    And of course much of what can be learned about institutional repositories does apply also to e-theses, so this other distribution list might also be of interest: JISC-REPOSITORIES

    02 Apr 2007, 09:32

  4. Vicky

    Thank you both for your comments. I have found them very helpful.


    11 Apr 2007, 08:39

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