Paper details

Unlocking the PhD: From Behind Closed Doors To Immediate International Availability – a UK University Perspective?


Fiona Greig, University of Surrey, United Kingdom

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The Doctoral level qualification is the pinnacle of studentship across the world and is often the place where knowledge breakthroughs are often first reported. They also give intriguing glimpses into the early thought processes of established academics and world-leading thinkers. This means the “PhD Theses” should prove to be wonderful primary sources for future research and yet, unlike publications, they have until recently been literally been left behind closed doors.

In the UK we have always ensured that the British Library (BL) have the metadata for these works, and have provided copies on request which traditionally the BL microfilmed and sent out. But as we entered a new millennium they made the decision to move to a service that would digitise and make an online (PDF) version available in their EThOS service. To “seed” this new database the BL requested the most requested theses in the past and since then collected new theses when they are made available in a digital format.

This paper will walk you through the University of Surrey’s journey in this wonderful world of e-theses. From being asked to provide a large number of documents at the start of EThOS, to making the move to e-only deposit for new Theses to working with ProQuest on digitising our remaining historic theses and all the pleasures and challenges this brings.

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