The electronic submission, administration and supply of theses is an important issue for UK universities, the BL and JISC, with institutions investigating how to make their work more visible. One way of doing this is to make theses more available. A number of other countries already have established models Experience in these countries suggests that e-theses increase use, research impact, and offer potential space savings to institutions Different institutions are looking at different solutions to the access problems The JISC FAIR programme has been testing approaches to e-theses Within the programme, a role for a national hub has been suggested providing a national OAI based index, and an e-thesis service on behalf of institutions who wish to store/disseminate via a service provider The BL has an existing role with UK theses and is keen to work with institutions and JISC to maintain and develop that role, and to play a full part in a national hub solution The BL will develop and submit a proposal to JISC for the National Hub service provider alongside a partner UK HE Institution E-theses are becoming increasingly important for UKHE, the BL, and JISC
The BL has offered the British Thesis Service for some time, but hasnt invested for many years BL approach Long-established BL Thesis Service based on microfilm holds some 160,000 copies of theses. However the service has been allowed to stand still and needs to develop in terms of new relationships with institutions, storage and delivery formats. The BL is modernising its services… Secure electronic delivery for document supply materials New online resource discovery and ordering methods New (or re-packaged) services offered in a user friendly way … and in relation to theses: Updating delivery formats to match other types of material (e.g. secure electronic delivery) Involvement in the FAIR RGU e-thesis project Analysis of digitisation options for BL stock or stock held by HEIs
Theses service solution requirements Cost effective and efficient support structure for initial set up of an e-thesis service and for ongoing support Agreed models/licences for administration of rights, royalties and permissions. A critical mass of theses to justify the development of a service. Support from Registrars and University Administration as well as University Librarians. Secure Preservation of e-theses in perpetuity. Independence for UK institutions to find the most appropriate solution for them, and freedom to change/develop that solution. But an easy to use, coherent overall service for users of UK Theses. A solution to thesis provision must meet a number of important requirements, or challenges
Independence for UK institutions to find the most appropriate solution for them The best solution for a given Institution may depend on institution size, availability of funds, technical support or other variables Some institutions may wish to develop their own solution and make e-theses available from their own server (Large or technically inclined institutions?) Some institutions may not be able to afford to develop an independent solution – a national, centralised store may help (Smaller institutions?) Some institutions may want to make their e-theses available sooner rather than wait for their own server to be developed, and then re-consider their options Some institutions may want to make their theses available via more than one route However, all institutions will want to retain control of their own theses and the routes by which they are made available
The National Hub (or Index) supports this level of freedom
Traditionally, there have been two primary economic model options… The researcher purchases the item Free submission of material for writer Free access for institutions to their own material, Library Privilege price for non-commercial use, full price for commercial use The Institution, author or other body pays for storage and supply Items free to all customers whether commercial or non-commercial User pays (current British Thesis Service model) Submitter funded (Open Access) Description
…but the National Hub allows a third, hybrid option A National Hub solution would accommodate both traditional and Open Access models The institution can decide which model it prefers (though a hybrid solution may lead to inconsistent supply times and pricing, which may be confusing for the user) Hybrid Description
Regardless, all solutions imply roughly the same categories of costs Cost of servers to host electronic theses Creation of metadata (transition from manual to automatic?) and management of search functionality Management of access to database and to theses themselves (and payment transaction?) Packaging and despatch of theses (CDROM, email, SED, paper etc.) Hosting Database creation and management Access management Fulfilment Cost categoryDescription
Rights, Royalties and Permissions need to be fair, but administration MUST be addressed The current UK situation makes an efficient and effective service impossible! Agreements must be reached with each individual institution (140+) A potential user must declare fair use – for all theses from some institutions, for some theses from some institutions, etc.. Some authors from some institutions must give permission to supply/use as part of the submission, some institutions will give carte blanche permission, authors must be contacted for royalties, etc.. This leads to a slow, inefficient system incapable of reacting at the speed expected by modern day users of information resources. Payments to authors are very small (c.£3-£4) and cost much more to administer than the value of the payment!
The solution must be developed by all relevant parties on a Working Group The Working Group will: Consist of representatives of all stakeholders including large institutions, small institutions, librarians, registrars, administrators, JISC, CURL, the National Hub host, legal representatives, etc.. Think creatively about issues and ideas, propose solutions and engage the HE community Develop a standard model(s) acceptable to all interested parties, fair and flexible enough to allow a cost effective, efficient and nimble system to be achieved Work quickly!
To offer a viable solution, and to justify the investment required, a critical mass of e-theses is required Paper theses will be around for some time The British Thesis Service currently holds 160,000 microfilmed theses c.480,000 UK theses have been written and are currently held in institution libraries. Since 1992, the British Thesis Service has operated on an on-demand basis for the majority of UK Institutions i.e. a thesis is obtained, microfilmed and supplied only when it is requested. Index To Theses acts as a metadata and abstract database for its subscribers to the national collection and links to the BL for delivery. The BL catalogues all theses to MARC21 standard. It is expected that a large number of theses will be submitted and administered on paper for a number of years to come. Only a small fraction of theses are currently submitted in electronic form, and only a small number of pioneering institutions can handle them in this form.
The critical mass can be generated by digitising paper theses The British Library microform collection can get the process off to a flying start The digitisation process can begin with the 160,000 theses held on microform i.e. Institution Librarys need not have theses temporarily removed. By definition, an on- demand service means that these would seem to be the most popular theses. [This solution subject to Rights and Permissions being granted!] Other items and all future paper theses can be digitised as requested or scheduled (back file), or as submitted (new) – all theses will be digitised at no cost to institutions. Technical format will be PDF with hidden OCRd full text – will allow full text searching but supply with no worse plagiarism dangers than currently i.e. will NOT allow cut, copy and paste of text. BL estimates all theses digitised within 5 years i.e. 480,000. BL is discussing closer links with Index To Theses (ITT) to offer a seamless service – combining the ITT database with BL catalogued records will give the most complete description available for a thesis (until full text digitisation) JISC are also investigating OAI metadata harvesting from institutions and the BL has OAI harvesting capability
It is important to ensure that UK theses are safe and accessible for future generations The British Library is developing e-preservation techniques Under legal deposit, the BL receives 1 copy of every item published in the UK. Legislation has been passed to extend this requirement to electronically published material. UK theses, generally speaking, are not published, so dont fall under this requirement The BL is developing a Digital Object Management System (DOMS) to enable it to fulfil its legal requirements for published material – note that the requirement is to preserve in perpetuity! DOMS will be one of the most advanced stores of its kind in the world. Should the BL have a role to play in the National Hub, it will store and preserve e-born and digitised theses on its DOMS store and subject them to any current or future preservation techniques.
So, what help will be available to assist an Institution in setting up its e-thesis service? An Institution Toolkit The JISC FAIR e-thesis projects have developed software and processes to support the submission and administration of e-born theses within Institutions, and to investigate the options for making those theses more widely available. However, that work needs to continue to develop an industrial strength, fully documented solution which can be rolled out to any Institution and which can offer options for implementation most appropriate to their needs. Subjects covered and options offered should include approved software, workflow, recommended best practice, preservation, National Hub access/hosting, standards, Frequently Asked Questions, things to avoid, university regulations, etc. The chosen software (DSpace and E-prints) is still under development, and that development needs to be influenced to accommodate the optimum solution for UK theses. Cost considerations for each of the solutions on offer.
Some key actions are needed to take this forward Current e-thesis related projects, current related JISC FAIR projects, criteria for representative partners (size, thesis service, etc.), JISC, CURL, engage partners. Further develop proposal to include all JISC requirements, write response with partner lead institution, understand deliverables from existing JISC FAIR projects, submit Award of contract Form group with reps from large inst., small inst., CURL, JISC, AHUA, etc. Modular development of various strands of the project Identify and develop relationship with partner institutions/ organisations Develop response to Invitation To Tender Milestone Establish Working Group Develop prototype system Action BL / JISC project managers / institution managers BL / lead inst. / JISC FAIR project managers JISC BL / lead inst. BL / lead inst. / partner inst. / project team Who