Students and staff may have concerns about the additional workload
involved in creating electronic theses and in establishing an
institutional repository. However, the advantages of being able
to access the content of theses electronically are significant
so it is worth undertaking advocacy work to encourage potential
stakeholders to support efforts to create the necessary infrastructure
and provide the necessary content of an ETD repository.
Since different groups (i.e. students, academic staff, senior
managerial and administrative staff, and library staff, have
different priorities, it is best to vary the approach to advocacy
work in order to highlight issues of most relevance to the target
The production of theses and dissertations
in electronic format provides an opportunity for students to gain
new skills and to have their research publicised
- Students should be kept fully informed
of the regulations relating to the submission of ETDs. The
needs of students part-way through their research work, or
nearing completion of their thesis, should be taken into account
when deciding when changes to regulations will be implemented.
- Students should be encouraged to use the electronic
medium to express their research results in creative and flexible
ways. They may be encouraged to consider how they might produce
a non-linear thesis, or how they can enhance their work through
the inclusion of multimedia and interactive formulae etc.
- The benefits of improving I.T. skills in
the process of producing an ETD should be highlighted.
- Students should be encouraged to learn
about copyright and IPR issues that affect the publication
of their theses on the web and related publications (such
as journal articles). They should be encouraged to see the
benefits of gaining an understanding of their own rights and
responsibilities as well as how they may use work published
by other people.
- The cost effective aspect of ETDs could
be promoted where students would otherwise be required to
provide multiple copies of printed theses.
- Attention should be drawn to the likelihood
of the student’s thesis being read more widely as a
result of it being available on the web. The collection of
statistics of use and the creation of a 'Top Ten Accesses'
list can show students the extent to which the most popular
works are consulted (such statistics from Virginia Tech could
be used as a guide - see here )
- Students should be assured that an embargo
period can be agreed (in keeping with their own university
regulations and requirements of the Freedom of Information
Act) if they wish to publish their results in other formats
before the full text of the thesis is made available on the
- Students should be advised that a non-exclusive
copyright arrangement can be agreed if they wish to publish
the thesis in its entirety or partially elsewhere.
- Training sessions can be organised to demonstrate to researchers
how they can locate full text ETDs on the web. The benefits
of this can be highlighted and contrasted with the process
of judging from an abstract whether it is worth requesting
an inter-library loan.
- The benefits of being able to access ETDs speedily, from
remote locations, and regardless of simultaneous use, can
- Research supervisors can be assured that Library or I.T.
staff will provide training and support for students who wish
to create multimedia ETDs
Senior Management & Administrative
The support of senior management within
the university is key to the success of a programme to introduce
and sustain an ETD collection. Generating enthusiasm and obtaining
the necessary changes to policies and regulations may take a
significant length of time and work in this area should begin
at an early stage.
- Library staff should take advantage of opportunities to
highlight the value and benefits of ETDs at appropriate university
training days and committee meetings.
- A Business Case should be presented o senior management
to obtain their support for the creation of an ETD repository
and to reassure them about the value of the activity and the
- The key benefit for improved publicity for the research
output of the institution's staff and students and, consequently,
its general research profile, should be highlighted. (Statistics
from Virginia Tech which show the number of ETD accesses,
and the quantity of access from different domain names, may
be used to indicate the extent to which web access results
in increased use of university theses - see
- Attention should be drawn to the number of institutions
that are currently in the process of making theses available
electronically and the implications of failing to promote
such research output.
Library staff will welcome the fact that the creation of an
ETD repository offers an opportunity to improve services to
users. However, they may have concerns about the time involved
in the creation of the repository and the ongoing maintenance
and development of it. Guidance is available from many institutions
that have already made progress in this area and much can be
achieved quickly by examining examples of best practice.
The advantages for researchers and students, in terms of ease
of access etc., are significant and should allow a persuasive
argument to be made if 'start up' costs are required. Where
institutions have an e-prints collection based on software such
as DSpace or Eprints they may already have much of the infrastructure
for an ETD repository in place.
With regard to administrative aspects,
various benefits to library staff can be highlighted:
- The reduction in the amount of storage space
required in the library.
- The reduction in the amount of staff time
spent obtaining and reshelving theses that are kept in remote
- Easier compilation of usage statistics.
- The reduction in the number of theses obtained
on Inter-Library Loan, and in the time taken showing users
how to use microfiche/film reading machines.