I was reminded the other day of a conversation I had with an HER officer about accessing PhD theses that may be of interest to HERs. At the time the only way of getting access to them, or information about them, was a closed system only available to those already in academic institutions.
Fortunately things are moving on with the British Library’s ETHOS project http://ethos.bl.uk/Home.do which has been going for a couple of years and now provides access to information about 44,000 theses. It isn’t yet a complete coverage of all UK universities and you have to pay for the initial digitisation of a thesis (about £40) after which it is available for free for everyone to access and you have to register to use the service, but there are a number of theses already digitised and available for free to download as pdfs.
I haven’t tested it out too thoroughly; I’ve just had a bit of a flick though some of the pages and made sure you can access it from a .gov domain, so if it’s flawed please direct any comments to the BL rather than me! But I thought it may be of interest and help.
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