UK-US partnership digitises hundreds of doctoral theses

by | Oct 8, 2010 | 0 comments

Center for Research Libraries and British Library digitise 400 UK theses on Middle Eastern and Islamic studies

The British Library and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) have announced that they have made available online 400 doctoral theses focusing on the Middle East, Islamic studies and related subjects. The theses – which represent a wealth of UK postgraduate research into politics, culture and society in the Islamic world – can now be downloaded for free by scholars worldwide via the British Library’s EThOS (Electronic Theses Online) service.


CRL ( is a consortium of some 250 research libraries in the United States and Canada. For more than half a century dissertations and theses from universities outside North America have been a focus of CRL’s collecting activities; now the Chicago-based organisation is collaborating with the British Library to provide access to the best research from UK universities in a field in which scholarly interest continues to be intense.

“Scholarship today at the major UK universities is a cornerstone of global research,” said Bernard Reilly, President of CRL “and access to that scholarship is of primary importance to the thousands of graduate and postgraduate researchers in the CRL community. We are delighted to have sponsored the digitisation of hundreds of theses identified as being of special interest and value in the field of Islamic studies, and that, through EThOS, they are now accessible to researchers worldwide.”

Launched in 2008, EThOS is a one stop shop for UK PhDs. It has seen demand for theses increase tenfold as provision of digitised copies replaced provision via microfilm and paper copies. As more universities move to electronic formats, the service is also providing access to an increasing number of ‘born-digital’ theses.

EThOS is a partnership between the British Library, the Higher Education sector and JISC, and it supplies electronic versions of theses published by 111 UK universities. The digitisation of paper theses is funded by the partner universities and the service administered by the British Library. More than 38,000 theses have now been digitised and are available free for instant download. Where a thesis has not previously been digitised, delivery usually takes around 30 days.

Joanna Newman, Head of Higher Education said: “Since it was first made available in beta, the response to EThOS from users has been phenomenal. One of the main aims of the service has been to provide an international platform for doctoral research done at UK universities and in this respect the relationship we have with CRL is particularly exciting. Researchers in the US – and, indeed, around the world – will be able to access the very rich vein of research contained in the 400 theses that have been scanned and made available online thanks to CRL’s generous support.”

Joanna Newman concluded: “The availability of these theses is a further boost to the existing strength that EThOS has in this area – earlier this year we announced the digitisation of nearly 1,000 theses through the DigiIslam initiative, funded by JISC. Our involvement with CRL also underlines the success of the free-to-access model of thesis provision – we look forward to working with CRL and many others in the coming months to make many more UK theses available in this way, thereby delivering huge benefits to research internationally.”

For more information, please contact: Ben Sanderson at the British Library Press Office, +44 (0)1937 546126

Pin It on Pinterest