Unlocking the knowledge contained in doctoral theses

In most cases, it takes anywhere between three and five years to write a doctoral thesis and a lot of the content is original research. But until recently, once finished, bound, and the degree has been awarded, the doctoral theses would end up inaccessible to most potential readers.

Theses4

So where are all the theses?

At City, the theses would be catalogued and then taken to the library store. The theses would be locked away in this store, which is in the university’s basement, and it would be necessary for them to be requested in advance and brought up to the library by  library staff in order for them to be read. Obviously, the potential readers would have to make a trip to the library.

But then, in 2011, with the launch of City Research Online, our institutional repository, things changed. The bound theses are still stored in the basement, but electronic copies of the theses are made available through City Research Online.

Has it made any difference?

A quick scan of the available data shows that in the past 10 years, the most popular print thesis was requested 37 times. This is in stark contrast to the most popular electronic thesis, which was downloaded over 7000 times in just over 5 year period. Our theses have been downloaded by readers across the globe, and I am doubtful that a reader from Estonia or Zimbabwe would take a trip to City to access the print copy.

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The figures also show that only 48% of our print theses have been requested to be read, whereas all our electronic theses have been downloaded at least once. Even if we assume that those downloaded once only were viewed by a librarian, this figure is still below 2% of all City theses available online.

To browse theses in City Research Online, by school or by year, click on the theses icon and discover the amazing knowledge they contain.

Theses button in CRO

 

 

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