Electronic theses and dissertations: promoting 'hidden' research.
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Since the mid 1990s an increasing number of higher education institutions and organisations have been encouraging the production and submission of theses and dissertations in electronic format. Where access to electronic theses and dissertations is available via the Internet, usage figures indicate that this is a much consulted resource. However, until recently, only a small percentage of the theses produced internationally have been mounted on Web pages. The situation is now changing as efforts to promote ‘open access’ are leading many universities to develop institutional repositories which contain the full text of theses and dissertations alongside journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, reports and associated research datasets etc. Attention is now being directed towards the identification and dissemination of examples of good practice, and attempts are being made to co-ordinate activities across institutions both nationally and internationally (to reduce unnecessary duplication of effort and encourage developmental work in areas where this will be beneficial). This article highlights key issues associated with the creation, management and use of electronic theses and dissertations and provides information about organisations that are actively working to promote this useful source of research data. Information is provided on topics such as training, technical and administrative requirements, and the issues to address, whether adopting a local, institutional, approach or participating in a national level service.