Mapping the UK thesis landscape

Phase one of Unlocking Thesis Data is complete. You can read about the work of the project in the past three months in our report

Grace, Stephen and Whitton, Michael and Gould, Sara and Kotarski, Rachael Mapping the UK thesis landscape: Phase 1 project report for Unlocking Thesis Data. Project Report. University of East London, London. (10.15123/PUB.4307).

The report covers the background of community interest which led to the project, and analyses the survey responses from EThOS contacts we previously mentioned in the blog. It then summarises the six institutional case studies looking at thesis-related processes in detail at a range of universities (East London, Southampton, LSE, UAL, Bristol and Leicester). The case studies showed a wide variety of approaches in processing and making available theses, and this insight will help us ensure that we consider solutions that work for the widest possible range of universities. Each of the case studies required interviews with staff involved in processing theses, by a combination of Michael Whitton (University of Southampton), Sara Gould (The British LIbrary), Rachael Kotarski (The British Library) and me. Many thanks to Michael, Sara and Rachael for working with me on the project.

Subject to further Jisc funding, we hope in the next phase of Unlocking Thesis Data to address the following five recommendations from the report:

  1. Hold at least three thesis clinics to investigate opportunities and barriers to assigning DOI and ORCiD identifiers in UK universities
  2. Engage with system suppliers/vendors to identify opportunities for enhancing software with required PIDs
  3. Consult with EThOS formally to understand what needs to change in EThOS systems and processes to harvest and display PIDs and related metadata for theses and their data
  4. Evaluate approaches to updating UKETD profile, initially in EPrints, before planning software enhancements
  5. Investigate requirements and solutions for those institutions that use EThOS as their first-point repository

You can find links to all the case studies, the survey and the phase one report at


University of East London case study available!

The UEL case study, written by Michael Whitton and Sara Gould is now available at this DOI: 10.15123/PUB.4301. UEL currently require both print and electronic versions of theses. They currently have separare publications (ROAR) and data (data.uel) repositories, both using the EPrints software.

Key recomendations:

  • DOIs for Theses can be minted in ROAR, using the DataCiteDOI plugin in the EPrints Bazaar.
    • Using DOIs incorporating the Student number (e.g. 10.15123/THESIS.123456) would allow the DOI to be included in the Thesis itself.
    • These could be assigned when the student registers, but only activated on publication of the thesis in ROAR.
  • DOIs for Data are currently being minted in data.uel using the same plugin. The Repository links plugin in the EPrints Bazaar allows the Thesis to be linked to the associated data.
  • ORCiDs can be promoted shortly after the student registers, so they could use it if they publish.
    • Registration forms could be sent to the Repository Manager, who would apply for an account on the student’s behalf.

Live minting of thesis DOIs: it can and does work!

Yesterday at the DataCite UK client meeting held at the British Library, three universities attempted to assign a DOI to a sample thesis. As anyone who has tried a live demonstration will know, there is a risk that what should work doesn’t. Thankfully, it did work and all three DOIs were minted in front of the attendees.

Valerie McCutcheon of the University of Glasgow used the CoinDOI plugin to request and receive back a DOI for a thesis in Enlighten:Theses. The thesis is at McCutcheon mints a DOI

Michael Whitton of the University of Southampton uploaded a small XML file directly to the DataCite Metadata Store, and received back the DOI for ePrints Soton.Michael Whitton mints DOI

Finally, I used the same CoinDOI plugin to assign a DOI to a thesis in ROAR – one which had related data objects (actually two full-length documentary films created as part of the PhD thesis) in data.uel the data repository at UEL.Stephen Grace mints a DOI

Grateful thanks to DataCite UK for the chance to update on the Unlocking Thesis Data project ahead of the Jisc sandpit workshop next week, and to Valerie and Michael for agreeing to mint the DOIs in front of an audience. Look out for release of the six university case studies during the coming week.