Recognition of the research value of PhD theses continues to grow in the UK; below are some highlights for 2015.
EThOS http://ethos.bl.uk – the UK’s national thesis service which aims to maximise the visibility and availability of the UK’s doctoral research theses – added the 400,000th thesis in mid-June 2015. The database is still not quite comprehensive but has records for around 90% of all recent UK theses. There are links to open access copies of the full texts for around 160,000.
Most of the remaining 240,000 EThOS records offer the option to order a digitised copy on demand. Around 500 a month are digitised in this way.
Proquest continue to offer thesis digitisation projects to UK research institutions, scanning theses for free or at much reduced rates in return for permission to include them in Proquest subscription databases. Digitised copies are also returned to the institutions for adding to their open access repositories, and EThOS can also harvest the full works, so there are benefits to all concerned.
There is a project called Unlocking Thesis Data https://unlockingthesisdata.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/welcome-to-unlocking-thesis-data/ which aims to roll out a national system of DOIs for PhD theses – partners are Universities of East London and Southampton, the British Library EThOS, and DataCite. EThOS now has fields for DOIs, ORCID and ISNI identifiers.
Open Access activities in universities are focusing on two areas: i) the requirement by HEFCE (HE Funding Council for England) that all research articles which will be put forward to be counted in the next cycle of Research funding (via REF – Research Excellence Framework) will have to be deposited into an open access repository in order to be eligible. This means institutions are working hard to optimise their repositories’ ability to handle research outputs, and encouraging their researchers to deposit there. And ii) research funders are now looking at research data – the data underlying the research as well as the formal article or other output. Institutions must now have a Research Data Management plan, and at least one Research Council (funder) has a mandate requiring open deposit of data as well as publications. Many institutions are setting up data repositories alongside their publications repositories.
Country Report submitted by: Sara Gould, EThOS E-Theses Service Manager, The British Library