Implementing Electronic Theses & Dissertations Project: University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus
University of the West Indies - UWI - Jamaica
Theses and Dissertations (TDs) constitute the primary research output of any university and they reflect the caliber of academics the institution has and the quality of research it produces. Hence, although this valuable information should be displayed widely, traditionally, it has been restricted to use in libraries. Globally this pattern is changing and information technologies (IT) are being used for producing, archiving and distributing information. Universities are now producing TDs electronically with better expression using multi-media and making these available on the Internet.
The UWI like many universities, deposit a hard copy of TDs in the Library with restricted access resulting in very little use of the material and remain mostly un-known. UWI’s Strategic Plan II 2002-2007, sees the competitive structure of higher education and technological innovation as the most important influences of any change over the next five years. The Plan further stipulates facilitating ‘anytime, a nywhere access’ to the institution’s computing and networking services, use of World Wide Web to project the University more effectively, provide support for academic staff to gain competence in application of new technologies to program delivery and to take steps to disseminate best practice and insights gained by early adopters of the technology.
This background and the availability of internet made it possible for the UWI to be part of Networked Digital Library of Dissertations and Theses (NDLTD). It is a network of universities collaborating to make TDs available on the Internet with open access and encourage others to participate. The concept of electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) was first discussed in 1987 and now has a membership of 174 institutions with national initiatives in Australia, Germany, USA, UK, India and Brazil. It has the support from UNESCO, World Bank, IBM, Microsoft and Adobe. ETDs are accessible and searchable through a Union Catalogue. The membership meets ann ually to discuss progress, share experience and solve problems.
The ETD Project was introduced to the UWI in 2002 and immediately got the unanimous approval of Graduate Studies Board, the Academic Board and the Campus Principal. From the initial stages, it was seen as a collaborative project of Graduate Studies Department, Information Services, Computer Science Department, Library and the Graduate Students Association.
In establishing the ETD database, although popularly used methodology within the NDLTD was Virginia Tech ETD system , University of Edinburgh was developing tools and testing DSpace technology for ETDs. At the UWI, this model was selected as the choice in testing ETD database and this was found to be rewarding. DSpace is an Open Source for creating an Institutional Repository (IR) that can accommodate not only TDs, but pre-prints, project reports, conference papers, educational material any other type of material. Since the DSpace has areas to develop and provide flexibi lity to introduce additional tools that are coordinated by DSpace Federation, all users have the opportunity to add tools and share what is already available. At UWI, a graduate student in Computer Science is under-taking as his research, to create suitable tools to meet the needs in presenting research in an electronic environment. This gives the UWI the opportunity to associate as collogues with other top class universities in the world. The UWI has benefited from the membership of NDTLD and also by selecting DSpace methodology with a vision for an IR, and results are to be seen within the next few years.