When studying at university, particularly when researching and/or writing a thesis, it can be very useful for students to have access to previous doctoral research theses in order to check facts, get inspiration, save time or simply to back up new research with previously discovered data. Students need great resources and they need quick access to the information. The good news is that there are now very quick and inexpensive – even free – ways to find out what’s already been written about a closely related area of research. This supporting material will save students a huge amount of time and allow them to progress their research papers, theses and dissertations much faster. The other major benefit to PhD students is that their own theses will probably also become digitised by one or more of the national repositories, and thereby be preserved and of use to generations to come.
There are several on-line resources which allow access to many of the UK’s doctoral research theses, but probably the most popular and widely used is EThOS. EThOS is the Electronic Thesis Online Service and is a facility hosted by The British Library. Its aim is to make digitally available as many doctoral research theses as possible, for free wherever possible, for non-commercial, personal use. ‘Physical‘ thesis copies can also be acquired, for example on CD, DVD or even printed and bound by The British Library themselves, if required, for a small fee.
EThOS generates its repository from 120 participating UK Higher Education institutions (A list of participating institutions can be viewed here). Around 3,000 new theses are added every month, 2,000 of which will be immediately available as ‘full text’ downloads. EThOS aims to allow free access to the full text from stored theses although only 120,000 of the 350,000 theses, some dating back as far as 1800, have so far been digitised. However, for those able to wait up to 6 weeks, and willing to pay approximately £43 + VAT per thesis, most of the un-digitised theses can be digitised ‘on demand’.
For more information about the Electronic Thesis Online Service visit EThOS at http://ethos.bl.uk.
The Document Centre does, of course, also have an online electronic thesis service but theirs is for an entirely different purpose — that being the professional binding, to university specification, of newly-written theses and dissertations written by undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at university. Hard binding and soft binding are available ‘on demand’ (with ‘same day’ options available) along with other forms of binding such as velo, wiro, thermal and perfect binding. A full online system allows students to upload their thesis in Acrobat PDF format and to choose additional options such as foil blocked lettering, CD and DVD ‘pockets’, CD burning and duplication, plastic or cloth corner pockets for loose inserts and register ribbons. Those students ordering more than one copy can even have each one delivered to a different destination. More information is available here.