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FAQ for institutions

1. How does an institution get involved in EThOS?
2. Why do institutions need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding?
3. How does EThOS deal with embargo periods on theses?
4. I am a librarian and I wish to pay for the digitisation of a thesis for one of my users. How do I do it?
5. Will my institution be able to receive an electronic copy of the digitised theses?
6. Will the paper copy of the digitised thesis be returned to my institution?
7. Can I make a thesis supplied by EThOS available from our university library?
8. Does EThOS offer a preservation service?
9. How can my institution submit theses and metadata to EThOS?
10. What is the preferred format for metadata and full text theses?
11. How is the issue of obtaining retrospective permissions for digitisation dealt with?
12. What steps is EThOS taking to safeguard authors’ rights?
13. What about plagiarism?
14. I still have a question. Where can I find more information?
15. Are there any mailing lists I can join?

1. How does an institution get involved in EThOS?
There are three options, details of which can be found here. An institution participates in EThOS by having as many of its doctoral theses recorded in EThOS as possible, and by allowing EThOS to provide access to open access copies of the full texts. Metadata is harvested from your repository under your OAI-PMH enabled licence, and permission to harvest your full texts is given under the Incorrect parameter fileId. To get involved in EThOS please contact Customer Services stating your interest and you will be sent details of the service and a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding.

2. Why do institutions need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding?
The aim of the Memorandum of Understanding is to state the roles, expectations and requirements of both parties involved in the supply of a thesis to a researcher. It describes the responsibilities of participating institutions and it enables the British library to define the core service that it will deliver and record the preferences of individual institutions in regard to digitisation and ingest of full-text theses.

3. How does EThOS deal with embargo periods on theses?
Embargo periods for individual theses are specified by the awarding institution. Where embargo details are held in the institutional repository they are harvested and clearly displayed on the record. If the details are unavailable they are added to the record as soon as they are made available to the Library.
EThOS will never make an embargoed thesis available for download. An embargo’s expiry date is dsplayed on the record and the thesis becomes available when that date is reached (subject to the individual institution’s relationship with EThOS).

4. I am a librarian and I wish to pay for the digitisation of a thesis for one of my users. How do I do it?
A number of institutions participating in EThOS cover the digitisation costs for their own theses. If the current institution for the thesis you are ordering passes the cost on to the end user, however, you can do the following:
  1. Login to EThOS.
  2. Order the thesis using your own account.
  3. You will be informed when the thesis is available for download. Please note theses downloaded from EThOS cannot be made available via your institution's library.
  4. Inform the user that the thesis is available. The notification email you receive includes information to help the user identify the thesis on the system.
  5. The user should create their own account and login to download the thesis for their use.
By following this process you pay for the digitisation and the user agrees to the terms and conditions ensuring that all legal requirements are met.

5. Will my institution be able to receive an electronic copy of the digitised theses?
Yes each institution can receive copies of its own theses for loading onto the institutional repository once the item has been digitised and made available. Instructions for retrieving the digitised theses are detailed here.

6. Will the paper copy of the digitised thesis be returned to my institution?
Yes, paper copies will be returned direct to the host institution intact unless your institution requests otherwise. The decision rests with the host institution and is clearly stated when the paper thesis is sent to the British Library for digitising. Prices differ depending on whether your institution wishes to receive a copy back or not, as is detailed here.

7. Can I make a thesis supplied by EThOS available from our university library?
No, you may not. In order to ensure that author rights are protected, all users downloading theses from EThOS must agree to the terms and conditions displayed. If you download a thesis and supply it to someone else, you break the terms and conditions of supply you agreed to on ordering the thesis.

EThOS is available from any desktop, is very easy to use and gives full information at each stage, so please show your users the system and tell them how to get the thesis they need. There is no limit on the number of individual readers who can use the online copy.

The terms of supply also apply to printed copies. If, in spite of easy online availability, you particularly want to add a printed copy to your library stock, you would need to seek the permission of the copyright holder (usually the author) to hold and lend a copy.

8. Does EThOS offer a preservation service?
Theses held in EThOS are securely held on British Library servers and act as a back up collection for institutions. The Library is commited to developing a strategy for the long term preservation of all UK theses which would be offered separately to the EThOS discovery and access service.

9. How can my institution submit theses and metadata to EThOS?
There are several ways in which institutions' theses can be added to EThOS, including harvesting institutional repositories and digitising paper theses. For more information on these processes please see Managing the content.

10. What is the preferred format for metadata and full text theses?
The preferred format for metadata is UKETD_DC which enables us to take all elements required by EThOS, including the ingest of the full text. If UKETD_DC is not an option, however, we can take other formats such as Dublin Core and MARC. The vast majority of full texts are formatted as PDFs but this is not a requirement.

11. How is the issue of obtaining retrospective permissions for digitisation dealt with?
Each institution has a different understanding with its authors about how theses are disseminated, but in the vast majority of cases authors are happy to make their work available to others. It is up to the awarding institution to decide whether they want to approach authors to gain specific permissions to digitise their theses. The approach of EThOS is to digitise theses without necessarily receiving permissions from the authors on the following basis:
  • The intention of EThOS is to promote the work of the author, the institution and UK doctoral research.
  • The service is run on a cost-recovery basis
  • It would be impractical to contact all authors of all existing theses in a bid to obtain clearance for supply.
  • The system offers an immediate take down policy should any author have cause to complain about the availability of their thesis.
12. What steps is EThOS taking to safeguard authors’ rights?
Each thesis within EThOS has an End User Licence Agreement to remind users that the work is copyright of the author or third parties. The Licence reminds users that they must credit the original author in any use they make of the thesis, and that they may not use the work for any commercial purposes.

EThOS requires that a researcher is registered before an order can be made for a thesis. This means that the system can track who the thesis has been supplied to in the unlikely event of your rights as an author being abused. EThOS also operates an immediate takedown process which allows for the quick removal of any theses which appear to be illegal, to infringe copyright or be in any way unacceptable. Concerned users should contact EThOS immediately with details of the item, specifying the URL of the relevant page.

13. What about plagiarism?
EThOS requires that a researcher is registered before a thesis can be downloaded. This means that the service can track who the thesis has been supplied to in the event of your work being plagiarised.

Each thesis in EThOS has an End User Licence Agreement attached to remind users of the restrictions placed on the item. Users must agree to these terms and conditions for every thesis supplied before they are able to download it.

In 2010 UCL Library services conducted a survey into e-theses in the HE sector of the UK. The results showed a very low incidence of reported plagiarism.
Survey report(external link)
Evidence based best practice guide (external link)

14. I still have a question. Where can I find more information?
If you have any additional queries please contact Customer Services.

15. Are there any mailing lists I can join?
There is a mail list you can join called E-THESES-UK at jiscmail.ac.uk which is UK discussion list for electronic theses and dissertations. Further details of the list, including joining instructions and archives, can be found here(external link).