‘Supporting and Influencing the deposit of E-Theses in Higher Education

As you saw from my last post, RSP is having a busy time of it with events this week and as promised here is an overview of our most recent event ‘Supporting and Influencing the deposit of E-Theses in Higher Education’ on Monday the 28th March 2011.

Andy Appleyard, Head of Document Supply & Customer Services at The British Library, gave our Key Note address and used EThOS performance data to compare the progress to date with the original aims and objectives of the service. He began by giving us ‘EThOS by numbers’  and some of the key figures I noted were: 45,634 theses available for direct download; 282,120 downloads to date equates to 13.5m pages; 901 orders for hard copies; 45,634 theses available for direct download;282,120 downloads to date (as of 21 March) and 63,355 registered users in 267 countries around the world.

I was also very interested to hear the demand for Microfilm (from the ‘70’s) compared with digital today.  Microfilm theses saw an average annual demand of 10,000, compared to that for today’s digital services which average at 140,000 per year. This difference in scale of the audiences reached by different mediums I felt really showed how Opening up Access to research can affect its impact and reach.

Andy also described planned changes to the current business model for EThOS such as handing back control to subscribers over their subscription fees. Currently user demand drives where fees are spent. Further there are plans to disaggregate the digitisation aspect of EThOS to central British Library digitisation services. Planned changes are set to be implemented in the next academic year (September 2011) and final details of the future model will be released in May 2011.

Next we heard from Kathy Sadler who reported back on the findings of the short JISC funded project ‘Influencing the Deposit of Electronic Theses in UK HE’.

Kathy’s presentation, and the report it was based on, provided a really interesting snapshot of current practices with regard to the deposit of E-Theses and also planned changes to practices. It also enjoyed a really impressive response rate from UK HEIs. For example this graph from her presentation shows that 63% of institutions surveyed accept electronic deposit of theses, with 6% exclusively so.


Whereas this graph from her presentation shows the plans to shift towards e-deposit and the timescales attached. Given that those reporting no plan to shift also reposted the reason for this was they only saw 10 theses deposited a year,  she concluded that within five years less than 0.05% of theses submitted across the UK will be stored solely in print format. This was very heartening to hear.

Kathy also provided a handout which pointed to some very useful guidance documents developed by the UCL team which you can find here.

Ginevra House, formerly of the British Library but now a freelance researcher, ethnomusicologist and an expert on Indonesian Gamelan music, brought our first session of the afternoon to a close by reporting on the findings of a JISC funded survey carried out in 2009 by the British Library into the impact of EThOS.


Ginevra House (Image: Authors own)

She summarised the survey results, highlighting the many perceived benefits, as well as providing some constructive criticisms offered by users to help improve the service. Before breaking for coffee there was time for some questions and answers where delegates were able to discuss their experiences and feedback to the EThOS team.

Following a break for coffee, biscuits and networking, we concluded the day with a panel session including representatives from each of the four case studies investigated by the UCL study. William Nixon of Glasgow University, Dr Nicky Cashman of Aberystwyth University, John Aanonson from Brunel University and Chris Keene from the University of Sussex all presented on their own unique experiences of implementing electronic theses deposit at their Institution and answered questions from the audience.

This event seemed to come at a time where repository managers are beginning to really grapple with the issues around E-Theses, registration for the event filled up very quickly and feedback on the day was really positive with delegates noting its relevance to the issues they are currently facing.

You can download all the presentations from the day and the UCL handout here.

You can also follow the Tweets from the day uder #rspetheses and #rsptheses


SHERPA/RoMEO for Repository Administrators- A Day in the Sun

Image authors own : Water Feature in Aston Business School Conference Centre

It has been a busy week for RSP with the ‘SHERPA/RoMEO for Repository Administrators’ event on Thursday (24.03.11) and  ‘Supporting and Influencing the deposit of E-Theses in Higher Education’ on Monday (28.0311). It’s set to continue to be busy too as we are holding ‘RoMEO and CRIS in practice‘ on Friday (01.04.11)!

I’ll start with a quick run through of ‘SHERPA/RoMEO for Repository Administrators’, and post later about our Etheses event. We  had a beautiful day for the event with the sun shining on us in the lovely rock garden courtyard at Aston Business School Conference Centre as you can see from my picture of their water feature.  The day started off with Jane Smith from the SHERPA Services team giving us a run through of some of the newer features of RoMEO before a question and answer session with herself and the rest of the team. We broke for coffee and returned for an entertaining presentation from Andy Gray from SOAS, but formerly of University of the Arts London, on his experiences of working in Arts repositories and the particular copyright this field can throw up. And true to his Artistic background he gave a really colourful and beautifully illustrated presentation, You can download all the presentations from the day here.

Next up was Charles Oppenheim, one of the UK’s foremost experts on Copyright. Charles regaled us with interesting anecdotes and answered a host of questions from the audience.

Following a delicious lunch, and networking in the sun lit courtyard we returned for the afternoon programme which kicked off with another case study, this time from Valerie Spezi of Leicester research Archive focusing on their workflow and how they use RoMEO as part of their copyright checking. Valerie also gave the team a lot of useful ideas from her wish list of RoMEO services.  We were next to hear from Rachel Proudfoot of the White Rose Consortium, however due to the UCU strike action that day Rachel was unable to join us. We were really quite lucky that this was the only disruption the strike action had on our event, other’s were less lucky. Jane Smith stepped into the breach and led the session as Rachel had planned it. We split into groups and discussed the four scenarios provided and shared experiences about contacting publishers.

We broke again for even more coffee and biscuits before returning to hear about the future of RoMEO from Peter Millington and Azhar Hussain.  Peter described future features and Azhar introduced the delegates to the work he has been doing planning for the sustainability of RoMEO in a future where public funding is increasingly scarce. It was clear from the lively question and answer session at the end of the day that the delegates were understanding of the challenges faced by the team and were very happy to engage on ways forward. What was very clear was the RoMEO is vital to the activities of repository staff on a day to day basis and that they are very invested in its continuing future.

You can read the SHERPA Services team’s blog on the day here.

Running DSpace on a Root URL

Roadside Eating on Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island 06/1973

By default a DSpace installation will be set up to run on a URL something like http://mydomain.com/xmlui/ or http://mydomain.com/jspui/ depending on which interface you prefer. In a comment on my past post regarding installing DSpace on Debian 5 I was asked how to run DSpace on the root of the URL, e.g. http://mydomain.com/. I had done this in the past but didn’t have a reference to hand so I tried it out on a fresh installation of DSpace 1.7. Here is what I did to get it working.
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Data and documentation in the performing arts – event resources

I did a recent blog post on an event I attended in Glasgow on managing data and documentation in the performing arts. The presentations are now available. In addition, there are short video clips of interviews with the speakers which are worth checking out.

Metadata only records

Gerry Thomasen

This morning I read an interesting post by Stuart Shieber listing seven reasons why metadata only articles in your repository are a good thing: The importance of dark deposit.  Number 5 resonated with me as it mirrored a discussion I’d had recently with a repository manager. Metadata only allows a very simple message to be given to researchers: always deposit your postprint (i.e. author’s final, peer reviewed version) and if there’s a problem with copyright, we’ll only make the metadata open access. I’d been talking to Dominic Tate (he was the repository manager in question) and we agreed that the complexity of copyright is probably the biggest barrier to effective advocacy – it just gets too complicated. Most surveys indicate that researchers are in principle in favour of open access but the reality of repository content shows that many do nothing in practice. Alongside this, they worry about breaching copyright and see the library as the locus of expertise in this area. So perhaps a simple message (always deposit) which also takes away the worry about copyright infringement is a winning combination. A one line advocacy strategy? I’d be really interested to get comments from repository staff – do you already do this, does it work?

Unlocking attitudes to open access in the UK


The United Kingdom Council for Research Repositories and the Repositories Support Project invite repository and library staff in the UK to participate in a nationwide initiative to guage researcher’s attitudes to open access generally, funding for open access publishing and the institutional repository specifically.

We are asking you to carry out a standardised survey of researchers in your institution between April and June 2011. This is based on a survey carried out at the University of Huddersfield during Open Access week 2010 which revealed some interesting results. There are benefits for participating institutions such as raising the profile of the repository and also nationally in creating a body of evidence about the researchers’ attitudes.

All the information you need to participate, including the survey questions,  is here:  Nationwide survey – Open Access

JISC Repositories: takeup and embedding projects

Yesterday, I attended the start up meeting for this new tranche of JISC projects (more details below). The RSP will be coordinating the communication both between the projects and to the external community. The basic premise is that they will all “enable lessons and benefits from the most successful repository applications, tools and good practice” 

In the morning each project gave a brief introduction outlining their proposed areas of work. In the afternoon, William Nixon, described the work at the University of Glasgow and how far they have come over the last few years in integrating the repository into the culture and systems of the university. He listed criteria which might be used to judge whether you are embedded. He asked the question “Do you have an institutional repository or do you have a repository at your institution” (credited to Steve Hitchcock of Southampton University). I then led a group session to explore the best ways the projects could comminicate with the RSP and each other and also ideas for dissemination of the learning outcomes.

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