E-Theses Developments in the UK.
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COPELAND, S., 2003. E-Theses Developments in the UK. In: P. SCHIRMBACHER, ed. Next Steps – Electronic Theses and Dissertations Worldwide: Proceedings of the Sixth International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 20-24 May 2003. Berlin: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. pp. 75-78.
Several projects are underway currently in the UK to promote the production, management and use of theses in electronic format. Funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is enabling three project teams to address key issues which to date have held back e-theses development in this country, including the lack of models suitable for use at national level. In order to appreciate the context within which the (Glasgow, Edinburgh and RGU led) projects are operating, this paper includes a brief history of the development of e-theses in the UK. It has taken a considerable length of time for the present, positive, situation to materialise in the UK. However, it is hoped that by highlighting the stages of development, the paper will serve to encourage others to persevere with attempts to obtain funding, and change attitudes, in order to achieve acceptance of electronic theses in their own institutions. The formation of the ’University Theses Online Group’ (UTOG), in the mid 1990s, may be considered the first milestone in the UK. Over the years, members of UTOG have worked hard to ascertain the views of students and researchers and to raise awareness of the advantages of having theses available in electronic format. At times the slow rate of progress has been dispiriting, but individual achievements have been significant. The paper explores the difficulties associated with maintaining interest in the subject of e-theses over a lengthy period during which there were few major breakthroughs - and it explains how this has been achieved in the UK. Finally, the paper examines the value of having easy access, via Web pages, to information about international e-theses projects and developments. Persuasive arguments can be made ’at home’ when details about progress, achievements and increased usage statistics elsewhere can be cited.