Lancaster Thesis Digitisation Trial

The University Library is pleased to announce that it has embarked on an exciting trial project to digitise 250 doctoral level theses from its print collection as a first step to investigating the feasibility of making the University’s collection of research theses available online.

Making Lancaster’s research universally available

There are approximately 1,500 doctoral level theses available in electronic format through Lancaster Eprints and the British Library EThOS service as a result of mandatory electronic deposit for research theses for students registered from October 2011 onwards. However, the Library holds approximately 6,500 doctoral theses in print format only, dating from the late 1960s.

What are the benefits of doing this?

Print theses are difficult to find, and time consuming and often costly to access, creating barriers to the availability of the unique research they contain. A digital thesis collection maximises the visibility of an institution’s doctoral theses and helps promote its research profile on a global platform to a wide range of researchers. Authors and institutions benefit as there is huge potential to promote their research.

The trial thesis digitisation project

We selected 250 print theses from the collection using criteria based on the number of print consultations since 2012 and representing disciplines from each faculty, including theses from the 1970s onwards to allow us to evaluate digitisation quality for different reproduction techniques. We made the decision to work with an external company, ProQuest, to take full advantage of their proven expertise in working with digitisation projects of this nature.

How will we use the results of the trial to move forwards?

The trial will allow us to evaluate digitisation quality for text created both by typewriter and word processor, as well as supplementary material such as fold outs, original photographic images and accompanying software in a variety of formats.

We will monitor usage figures for the digitised theses very closely to determine the likely reach and impact of a digital thesis collection. In addition to quantitative measures, we will also invite feedback from authors, supervisors and users on the benefits of digital access.

Evidence provided from the trial project will inform the decision on whether investment into a full digitisation project will enhance both the research reputation of the institution and provide alumni with the opportunity to raise the profile of their research in the context of contemporary debate.

Are you an author of a PhD thesis?

Owing to the size of the collection, and because we do not have up-to-date contact details for all authors, we will not be contacting authors individually to inform them that their thesis will be digitised and made available online.

If you are an author of a PhD thesis, we would like to hear your thoughts about the online availability of your work. If you wish your thesis to not be publicly available, please contact the Library and we will be happy to discuss with you the most appropriate action to take. The Library operates a takedown policy to remove thesis content in the event of an author requesting that their thesis is removed from open access.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has my thesis been digitised?

We digitised 250 theses for the trial project. Please click on this link to the Lancaster Repository EPrints and search for your name and/or thesis title keywords. If we have digitised your thesis you will see a record with the thesis details and a link to the full text document

How can I see my thesis online?

Click on the link to Eprints and search for your thesis. Click on the Download link to access the full text.

Why has the Library digitised these theses?

Digitising the entire thesis collection will require significant investment. To measure the return on investment in terms of scholarly impact, we have set up a trial project to allow us to measure usage and feedback. The theses we have selected represent departments from all faculties, ranging from the 1970s to the present.

Who can access the online theses?

The digital theses will be universally available to anyone on an open access basis. This means the theses will be distributed online, free of cost and other barriers to access.

Will the theses be available indefinitely?

Yes. The full text files will be preserved indefinitely. Copies of the full text files will also be held by the British Library. The British Library will preserve all theses held in EThOS by uploading them to the Library’s digital store for long term preservation. This provides institutions with the reassurance the theses will be preserved in perpetuity and a back-up copy always available.

Will all theses be digitised?

Digitisation of the whole thesis collection is dependent on the outcome of the trial project. If the results of the project demonstrate a positive outcome in terms of usage and feedback, we will be in a position to recommend investment into the digitisation of the whole collection. All doctoral level theses would then be digitised with the exception of those theses which are unsuitable either because of format or content. Theses for which authors have refused permission for digitisation will not be included.

My thesis has been digitised and I want it taken down – how do I do this?

Lancaster University Library operates a strict takedown process facilitating the removal of any thesis. Details of the service’s take down policy can be found here Thesis Takedown Policy. If you wish your thesis to be removed, please contact with the details of your work, your own contact details and the reason for removal.

My thesis isn’t online yet – can it be digitised?

The best way to make your thesis available in digital format is to provide the Library with a .pdf copy of your thesis. We can upload the .pdf file to our research portal PURE and the thesis will be available via the EPrints repository immediately. Please contact for further information.