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News about City University's open access repository, philosophical musings about Open Access

City Research Online & electronic theses

We’ve been slowly working towards making City’s PhD theses available in City Research Online, and we’re now at the stage where we’re going to be adding a lot more full text versions of these important pieces of research. Working out these issues, and talking to PhD students about the uses made of their work, is also an opportunity to persuade early-career researchers of the benefits of open access, hopefully hooking them for the remainder of their career!

We already have some theses available (four at the time of writing) in the open access repository, thanks to PhD students getting in touch with us and passing on electronic versions. There are a few problems specifically associated with managing theses: you have to be particularly careful about how they are handled, since they represent three of more years of research, and are often intended to be published further down the line; potentially tricky issues with copyright (author permissions, 3rd party copyright) and sensitive data (commercial or personal); and the various places e-theses can both be sourced from and also end up- for example, there are already over 200 City theses held by the BL’s EThOS service, not to mention DART Europe.

I think we’ve worked through these issues to our satisfaction (or at least I’ve produced some papers on them!), and we’re now at a stage where we can recruit more content. There are two sources of e-theses we’re going to examine first. They are:

  1. A nice back-run of c. 50 we have here in the Library (on CD-ROMs!), with permissions forms all signed off. We’re going to add these, then email students to tell them we have done so.
  2. All examined theses going forward. We need to a bit more liaison to make sure that the Schools and Departments are clear with what we will do with newly received e-theses (this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone!), and it will mean that we receive c. 250 newly examined theses per year.

Once we’re comfortable with the work-flows for managing these two sets of theses (and have exhausted the former set), we can have a look at other sources, including theses currently in EThOS but not held locally. I’m also in the process of setting up EThOS automatically harvesting our content, meaning that theses deposited in City Research Online will automatically be added to EThOS- a two for one offer!

This work has taken a while to come to fruition, but it’s really pleasing to think that over time we’ll become a comprehensive source of Doctoral research produced here at City.

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