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March 28, 2007

Print theses e–submission vs. e–theses

Writing about web page http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/programme_rep_pres/ethosnet_announcement_mar07

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in spite of the prediction in the Detraz (2006) report, “there is strong likelihood that the current BLTS will be withdrawn by the British Library whether a national EThOS service goes ahead or not, leaving no national outlet for the supply of paper theses” [EThOS – Final Report –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 ]


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