Electronic theses at the University of St Andrews: institutional infrastructure, policy and support to establish an electronic theses service
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Electronic deposit of PhD theses produced by postgraduate research students in St Andrews was introduced in academic session 2006/7 and mandated as part of University regulations for the delivery and deposit of theses within the institution. The move to the new service was primarily driven by University Library planning and policy which clearly identified the need for improved service provision to the local, national and international research community by making the change in the deposit and delivery mechanism. University strategic planning with regard to making research outputs available to a wider audience was also a major driver to the development. This has been achieved by the transfer of the deposit procedure from the previous format of print copies of theses delivered in closed access in library stack to free online delivery in an open access institutional repository. The number of theses in the St Andrews Digital Research Repository is now in excess of 200 items. The success of the current service is very dependent on key partnerships which have been established between relevant agencies within the institution. Communication and establishment of workflows between the Library and the Academic Management and Support Office are crucial. Collaboration to support and train postgraduate students in the new deposit procedures has very much focused on partnerships between the Library, Copyright and FOI officers, Supervisors and the St Andrews Gradskills programme which is specifically designed to develop postgraduate research skills. The process has been one of constant re-evaluation of institutional and user needs and the provision of a high quality service. This has resulted in the development of relevant policies with regard to restrictions/embargoes, support for copyright issues, support for technical and file format issues, and streamlined workflows for administrators of the institutional repository. There have also been significant training and reskilling issues for university staff working closely with the service and many opportunities for contact with other relevant projects and external support agencies. This poster describes how our thesis service has developed and how the institutional framework has been put in place to support the service. It suggests key factors which must be addressed to enable such a service to grow and become embedded in institutional practice. The current electronic thesis deposit service in St Andrews should also be seen in the context of local policy to encourage the retrospective digitization of earlier theses and the establishment of workflows and permission letters to authors to achieve this. This also includes membership of the national EThos project. A further context is the inclusion of electronic theses into the St Andrews Digital Research Repository which is now just developing a service to extend its content into all University Research Publications by feeding content from the University's Research Expertise Database. This will make significant changes in the scholarly communication process for all St Andrews research outputs.
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