More Than 5,500 McMaster Theses Now Online
McMaster graduate theses are more available for research and study than ever before! A new submission process from the School of Graduate Studies and work being carried out in the Library has pushed the number of McMaster theses accessible online in the Digital Commons repository to over 5,500.
The School of Graduate Studies transitioned to fully electronic submission of both masters and doctoral theses in May 2011. Students are no longer faced with a costly, labour-intensive process of printing and binding multiple copies of their thesis for submission to SGS. Instead, students now deposit their final thesis directly into Digital Commons. Once submitted, the completed thesis awaits only a final check from the Thesis Coordinator at SGS before becoming open for use. Even with this check, electronic submission significantly reduced the time required to make these works of unique McMaster scholarship available, cutting out several stages of handling and processing required for paper submission. SGS has provided further details on their website to guide students and faculty through the submission process.
At the same time, the Library has been working to provide broader exposure of historical McMaster theses. We started by obtaining from ProQuest the rights to create open access versions of McMaster doctoral theses distributed by them. This removed a barrier to greater visibility for McMaster research, eliminating the pay-wall for online access to several thousand doctoral theses. More recently, the Library has begun digitizing historical theses from our circulating collection in Mills. Scanning is being done in the Library, with higher resolution images than often used by commercial vendors for text-based items and careful quality control. The result is a high-quality, searchable PDF file available for use by scholars and researchers worldwide. Work on digitizing theses from Thode has not yet begun, but will be explored as a future project. [Update, Nov. 21: Many Innis theses are also available online. For details, see Find McMaster Business Theses.] The Library maintains a paper copy of theses completed before May 2011 in archival storage as part of its permanent collection should we ever need to revisit a digitized thesis. McMaster also participates in Library and Archives Canada’s Thesis Canada archiving program.
The move to online access with multiple paths of discovery for McMaster theses--through WorldCat and Google, in addition to the Library's local catalogue--has caused usage of these resources to skyrocket. In October alone, McMaster theses in Digital Commons were downloaded more than 14,000 times, and more than 300 individual theses were each downloaded 10 or more times. Print and microform theses were typically low-use parts of the Library's collection. The numbers we're now seeing highlight just how valuable these products of McMaster scholarship are when made readily available for study.
As work on the thesis collection progresses, we will post additional stories to the Library's website. Any questions or comments about the project can be directed to Wade Wyckoff, Associate University Librarian for Collections.