EThOS, the Electronic Theses Online Service, is based on a prototype that was developed by a project team funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the CURL (Consortium of Research Libraries in the British Isles), the British Library and participating partners. A new two-year funded project, ‘EThOSnet ,’ has now been set up to establish EThOS as a live service. JISC and CURL are delighted to announce their support for the new service which will be run by the British Library on behalf of the UK higher education community and will be developed in partnership with both HE and the JISC.

Electronic theses in the UK: the open access future

EThOS, the much-needed new UK electronic theses service, is to go live

EThOS, the Electronic Theses Online Service, is based on a  prototype that was developed by a project team funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the CURL (Consortium of Research Libraries in the British Isles), the British Library and participating partners. A new two-year funded project, ‘EThOSnet,’ has now been set up to establish EThOS as a live service. JISC and CURL are delighted to announce their support for the new service which will be run by the British Library on behalf of the UK higher education community and will be developed in partnership with both HE and the JISC.

Why is EThOS significant?

There are relatively few theses in the UK available in electronic format via the Internet. Consequently, some of the most innovative UK research output is virtually invisible. (The results of UK doctoral level research projects are not promoted as well as they could be, few researchers across the world make use of this research, the authors of the PhD theses are little known, and, in view of such lack of publicity, potential sponsors may be reluctant to fund similar research in future.) In contrast, EThOS will make UK theses available on open access for global use. The vision of EThOS is to allow UK theses to take their place online, alongside those in other European countries and elsewhere, ensuring that the UK contributes to and benefits from a much greater level of engagement with research worldwide.

For libraries, EThOS offers assurance that electronic theses can be discovered, accessed, managed and preserved, exploiting the strengths of universities and of the British Library to, for example, save both time and space.

What has been developed so far?

The prototype developed by the EThOS project, between 2004 and 2006, created a fully functional system and explored the various issues that need to be addressed in running an e-thesis service in the UK. An independent evaluation of the prototype service gave it strong backing, and suggested further development opportunities. In a consultation in January 2007 over 70 higher education institutions expressed an intention to join EThOS. EThOSnet now builds on this firm foundation, taking forward the recommendations from the independent evaluation, and working with both the British Library and the higher education community to create access to e-theses that is sustainable both technically and organisationally.

What will EThOSnet do?

  • create a one-stop shop for resource discovery for UK theses;
  • provide direct links, free at the point of use, to the full electronic text ;
  • increase the number of e-theses initially available, thus enhancing UK repository content;
  • extend the EThOS partnership and encourage ‘early adopters’ by presenting the EThOS case and enabling institutions to sign up;
  • enhance the procedural infrastructure, and upgrade the EThOS Toolkit accordingly, with a view to improving institutional workflows and sharing experience and best practice, in close partnership with registry and academic staff;
  • address the HE community’s concerns, identified by the independent evaluation, regarding the management of third-party rights and the detection of plagiarism;
  • scale up the EThOS technological infrastructure for the move from prototype to ‘live’ status;
  • monitor and test relevant technology trends in order to identify those technologies which EThOS may be able to adopt in the future to improve further the management of e-theses and consolidate the embedding of the service within institutional practices.

How can you engage with EThOS?

The simplest way to engage with EThOS at this point is to consider becoming an ‘early adopter’. If you would like more information about this, or other ways to engage with EThOS, please contact the EThOSnet project at the email address below.

For further information about EThOS and the EThOSnet project, please email mailto:info@ethos.ac.uk.  

Note: The EThOSnet project partnership is led by Imperial College, London, and also includes the British Library, Cranfield University, The Robert Gordon University, the University of Birmingham, the University of Glasgow, the University of Hull, Cardiff University, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leicester, the University of Nottingham, the University of Southampton, and the University of Warwick.