E-only theses submission and preservation

A virtual workshop organised in conjunction with the
2022 ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2022)


Date: Friday 24th June 2022
Duration: 09:00-12:30
Venue: Online
Max number of participants: 30
Registration: See Conference website


This workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to discuss issues, collate practices, share experiences and concerns, and create a forum for promoting inter-institutional collaboration and knowledge exchange on e-only thesis submission and preservation.


Workshop background

The significance and value of doctoral theses as unique and distinct academic research records have been signaled repeatedly – regarded as the “bedrock of graduate education” [1] and a “substantial contribution to advances in [academic] disciples” both in quantity and quality [2]. Technological advances, and the proliferation of institutional repositories (IR) and digital libraries have led to an increasing number of academic institutions mandating the electronic submission of theses [3] – a movement that is often referred to in relevant literature as Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs). ETDs have revolutionized dissemination of doctoral research and have created opportunities for wider access to doctoral research via IR catalogues.

Alongside these opportunities, many challenges associated with electronic publishing of theses have arisen which academic libraries need to address. These challenges pertain to the entire lifecycle of electronic theses (e-theses): from approval and submission, to documentation, cataloguing, copyright and embargoes, access, and long-term preservation [4]. The recent COVID-19 pandemic, and the measures to reduce the spread of the virus, interrupted existing thesis submission workflows; and forced academic institutions to adapt to a new remote environment [5]. Thesis deposit being one among the multitude of areas affected, led academic libraries worldwide to re-consider their workflows to allow for electronic-only submissions; as well as investigate e-only thesis submission as the default model.

The tight timeframes to respond to these changes, and the -often- reactive nature of the measures taken towards e-only thesis submission, have allowed little time for information professionals to reflect, take stock and share experiences in addressing the challenges of e-only thesis submission. Beyond deposit, there is a huge arena of issues to be considered if the digital record is to become the “single source of truth” for doctoral theses, with no physical copy to fall back on. Policies, processes and workflows need to be updated; and existing documentation needs to reflect changes (e.g. PGR handbooks, IR web pages, IT guidance). To preserve meaningful e-only thesis records for the long-term, collaboration (and the workflows to enable it) among PhD students, their supervisors, PG offices, PG strategy and information services teams need to be established [6].


Workshop objectives

The workshop aims to invite discussion in the following areas relating to deposit and archiving of e-only theses:

  • Challenges, barriers, and opportunities of e-only thesis deposit.
  • Current practice and lessons learnt from existing efforts in other institutions.
  • Updates in workflows, processes, and documentation; as well as elements that digital preservation policy and practice should include to cater for e-only theses.
  • Methods to capture embargoes, supplementary research data and non-traditional theses into IR and digital preservation records.
  • Stakeholder requirements that need to be considered, in order to facilitate submission of e-only theses and their preservation.



The workshop will primarily be of interest to participants from academic libraries, archives and information services, but it is also relevant to graduate school and research administrators; faculty members involved in doctoral thesis submission processes; and researchers in digital archiving and preservation.


Workshop programme

Welcome and housekeeping (10 minutes)
Introduction to topic: the Glasgow perspective (40 minutes)

Summary of the e-only theses journey at the University of Glasgow, including our experiences to date; motivators to go to e-only; our workflows; and the choices we've made along the way.

Explanation of breakout discussion / format (5 minutes)
Breakout discussions (50 minutes)

With the guidance of a moderator for each breakout room, participants will work on one of the following areas pertaining to e-only theses:

  • Systems and interoperability
  • Digital archiving and preservation
  • Non-text based submissions
  • Embargoes and copyright
  • Metadata
Break (15 minutes)
Feedback from breakout rooms and roundtable discussion (45 minutes)
Summary and conclusions (15 minutes)


Anticipated outcomes

Workshop proceedings and recommendations deriving from round table will be documented in a report that will be shared with participants and the wider community.



Dr. Leo Konstantelos is Senior Assistant Archivist (Digital) in Archives & Special Collections at the University of Glasgow. He is responsible for establishing a digital curation and preservation platform for digital archival records; and contributing to initiatives and actions relating to the creation, management and dissemination of digital collections. Leo has previously conducted research and led initiatives in EU-funded projects on digital curation and preservation; and has worked with institutions nationally and internationally to promote long-term preservation of born-digital cultural heritage.

Michelle O’Hara is the College Librarian for Scholarly Research Communications at the University of Glasgow. Michelle is responsible for managing the Enlighten institutional repository team and the Enlighten repository itself, where e-theses are managed.

Sally Bell is Head of Collection Development at the University of Glasgow Library. Sally works with teams across the library to manage the library’s collections and ensure their access and discoverability. She is responsible for the teams who collate and catalogue the physical theses and is working to ensure the ongoing access of the digital collections parallels those held in the library stock.

Clare Paterson is Senior Archivist within University of Glasgow Archives & Special Collections. Clare leads the team which is responsible for supporting the transition to the digital preservation, management, and use of the University’s Archives. She also works with colleagues across the University, and with corporate clients, to support engagement with corporate archives and heritage.

William J Nixon is the Assistant Director (Academic Engagement and Digital Library) at the University of Glasgow. He is responsible for the leadership and ongoing development of the University’s repository infrastructure, including theses. William has worked with e-theses for nearly 20 years and has been active nationally and internationally in work supporting repositories and Open Access.



[1] Yale Fineman. 2003. Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Libraries and the Academy 3, 2 (April 2003), 219-227.

[2] Sevim McCutcheon. 2011. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 35, 2-3 (April 2011), 64-68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lcats.2011.03.019

[3] Ralph Hartsock, and Daniel G. Alemneh. 2018. Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs). In Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, 2018. Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology (4th ed.), IGI Global, Hershey, PA.

[4] Edward A. Fox. 2021. Building and Using Digital Libraries for ETDs. The Journal of Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 1, 5. https://scholarworks.uaeu.ac.ae/j-etd/vol1/iss1/5

[5] John Fudrow. 2020. Standardizing Chaos: ETD Support service changes before and after a pandemic. In: USETDA 2020, 23 September 2020 - 23 September 2020. http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/40614

[6] Leo Konstantelos. 2021. Breaking down barriers in e-only thesis submission: how digital preservation contributes to the conversation at the University of Glasgow. World Digital Preservation Day blog (November 2021), Digital Preservation Coalition. Retrieved from: https://www.dpconline.org/blog/wdpd/wdpd2021-konstantelos