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History of EThOS

The British Library’s British Thesis Service was a unique feature of the national document supply landscape for many years. Institutions sent copies of all their new theses to the Library, where they were copied to microfilm and the original returned to the institutional library. The microfilm copies were then loaned via the document supply service, and in some cases retention copies made.

The vision of EThOS was to provide an electronic replacement service which would provide a vastly improved, secure access to UK Higher Education research theses. This in turn would promote the visibility of UK Higher Education postgraduate research and contribute dynamically to the global knowledge pool. The original EThOS project was part of JISC’s Digital Repositories Programme, designed and funded in partnership with JISC, Research Libraries UK and a number of other partner institutions including universities, the National Postgraduate Committee, the Association of Heads of University Administration and ARC (Academic Registrars Council).

The service went live in January 2009 and immediately proved an essential and popular research tool. Within the first two years over 50,000 full text theses had been made available for immediate download; approximately half of these were harvested from institutional repositories with the remainder digitised from print. As of 2013 over 120 institutions were participating in EThOS and the database held records for over 300,000 theses. On 7 November 2012 the 500,000th thesis was downloaded from EThOS.

Documentation from the early EThOS project remains available in the archived content section.

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