Status of E-theses repositories with special reference to India.

Author:Sengupta, Shantashree


In the past, researchers were not able to access all the scholarly literature published across the world due to lack of proper communication technologies. With the advent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), this problem is solved to a major extent and the results of the research going throughout the world is made available to the public without any restriction. The researchers adopted Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in 2002 and with the help of Open Access (OA) made the research literature available to the world wide user community.

The Open Access Movement

In the last few years, the Open Access movement has gained a lot of importance and popularity among the academic and scientific institutions.

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002) defines Open Access as 'free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute and/or print, with the possibility to search or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself."

Institutional Repositories (IR)


Higher education institutions all over the world are experiencing the necessity of managing their education, research and resources in a more effective way. Alma Swan lists the following benefits that repositories bring to institutions-

  1. Opens up the outputs of the university to the world

  2. Maximises the visibility and impact of these outputs as a result

  3. Showcases the university to interested constituencies - prospective staff, prospective students and other stakeholders

  4. Collects and curates digital outputs

  5. Manages and measures research and teaching activities

  6. Provides a workspace for work-in-progress, and for collaborative or large-scale projects

  7. Enables and encourages interdisciplinary approaches to research

  8. Facilitates the development and sharing of digital teaching materials and aids

  9. Supports student endeavours, providing access to theses and dissertations and a location for the development of e-portfolios

    What is an Institutional Repository?

    According to the Online Dictionary for Library & Information Science (ODLIS) Institutional Repository is "A set of services offered by a university or group of universities to members of its community for the management and dissemination of scholarly materials in digital format created by the institution and its community members, such as e-prints, technical reports, theses and dissertations, data sets, and teaching materials. Stewardship of such materials entails their organization in a cumulative, openly accessible database and a commitment to long-term preservation when appropriate. Some IRs are also used as electronic presses to publish e-journals and e-books. An institutional repository is distinguished from a subject-based repository by its institutionally defined scope. IRs are part of a growing effort to reform scholarly communication and break the monopoly of journal publishers by reasserting institutional control over the results of scholarship. An IR may also serve as an indicator of the scope and extent of the university's research activities."

    The Harrod's Librarians Glossary and Reference Book (10th Ed.) explains Repository as "A network-accessible server used as a store for digital content, e.g. in self-archiving or for an Eprint archive, and which can disseminate those contents by exposing metadata to harvesters such as the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. Where the server holds the eprints for a whole university or similar institution, the phrase institutional repository is frequently used."

    How Many IRs Are There and Where Can They Be Found?

    At the time of data collection, more than 2,600 repositories are found listed in Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR: and Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR:

    Software used for constructing IRs

    A variety of software are used for constructing IR like DSpace, EPrints, Fedora, ARNO, DoKS, Greenstone, HAL, ETD-db, Bepress, DIGIBIB, EDOC, DiVA, OPUS (Open Publications System), MyCoRe, PMB Services, Keystone DLS etc. Out of this, more than 1000 IRs are using DSpace, next to it is EPrints (more than 400 IRs are using it).

    What Do Institutional Repositories Contain?

  10. Peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings

  11. Research data

  12. Monographs and books

  13. Other content types-theses, dissertations and other research related outputs such as demonstrations, learning and teaching objects

  14. Institutional or departmental research

  15. Databases

    Theses and dissertations are known to be the rich and unique source of information, often the only source for research work that does not find its way into various publication channels. Due to the various benefits of Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs), they are gaining importance over their traditional formats.

    Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs)

    History of ETD activities

    The first planning for ETDs started at a meeting in 1987 between UMI, Virginia Tech, Arbor Text, SoftQuad and University of Michigan. Participants discussed the latest approaches to electronic publishing and whether or not they could be applied to the preparation of dissertations.

    In 1996, the United States funded a three year effort to spread the concept of ETDs around the US. A pilot project at Virginia Tech led to a mandatory requirement for post 1997 theses and dissertations to be submitted only electronically. The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) was formed and first ETD Conference was held in 1998. By 2000, the ETD movement had spread internationally to include thousands of university members.


    The Online Dictionary for Library & Information Science (ODLIS) defines Electronic Theses and Dissertation (ETD) as "The Master's theses and Ph.D. dissertations submitted in digital form rather than in print on paper, as opposed to those submitted in hard copy and subsequently converted to machine-readable format, usually by

    Benefits of electronic submission and archiving of theses and dissertations include

  16. The results of research presented in theses and dissertations are more accessible to scholars all over the world via the World Wide Web.

  17. The message of a theses or dissertation may be better conveyed electronically than in a paper document. Advanced software programs can be introduced by like allowing color diagrams and images, hyperlinks, audios, animations, videos, spreadsheets, databases etc. into an electronic document.

  18. The university is able to fulfill its responsibilities of recording and archiving theses and dissertations and save money. Also, ETDs reduce the need for library storage space.

  19. The researcher can save on printing and copying costs through electronic publishing and information exchange.

    How are ETDs created?

    ETDs may be prepared using any word processor or document preparation system and may include multimedia objects. Some universities began their ETD by instituting and electronic copy requirement along with the paper version during submission of the theses or dissertation. The theses or dissertation are submitted as a PDF (Portable Document Format) file.

    Of the various Open Access software available like DSpace, Eprints, Fedora etc., DSpace software has the broadest application in terms of being able to handle any educational material in digital format such as lecture notes, visualizations, simulations, graphics, datasets, images, thereby enabling users to make full use of the repository.

    Whatever software a repository chooses, all adhere to standards of interoperability and metadata harvesting laid down in 1999 at the Santa Fe convention as the Open Archives Initiative. Today the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is an interoperability framework based on HTTP which facilitates the transfer of metadata among networked systems.

    Interoperability requires repositories to use standardized metadata tags such as SGML/XML and other mark up languages that assign unique identifiers to identify items within a repository.

    Methodology for Data Collection

    The information on E-Theses repositories in World was mainly collected from the Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) and the Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR). At the time of data collection, there were 245 E-theses repositories across the world with 25 of them from India. Other than these 25 Indian E-theses repositories, there might be some more but since they are not yet registered under ROAR or OpenDOAR, they are not included for the present study.

    Data Collection

    Global Status

    There are 247 E-theses repositories across the world related to various disciplines. (Appendix 1). The most recent one recorded in ROAR is Bienvenue sur le depot institutionnel, recorded on 5th December 2011. The oldest one is prior to 1993. Increase in the number of E-theses repositories is seen after the BOAI in 2002, with the maximum being recorded in 2010. (Fig.1)

    Appendix 1: List of E-Theses Repositories in the World Sr.No. Name of the Repository Software 1. Addis Ababa University DSpace Electronic Thesis and Dissertations http://etd.aau. 2. AMS Tesi di Dottorato - EPrints Alm@DL - Universita di Bologna http://amsdottorato. 3. Australasian Digital Theses Program - University of Tasmania www.utas. libserv/adt/ index.html 4. Australian Digital Theses Program (ADT) - Australian Catholic University http://dlibrary. digitaltheses/public/ 5. Australian Digital Theses Program (ADT) - Australian National University http://research. /thesis/ 6. Australian Digital Theses Program (ADT) - Central Queensland University http://content.

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