Thursday, 10 May 2007

EThOSnet Kick-Off

On Tuesday of this week the EThOSnet Project Board met for the first time to kick off this significant new project. For background, this project is the successor to the EThOS project, which in turn grew out of the Scottish projects: Theses Alive at Edinburgh, DAEDALUS at Glasgow, and Electronic Theses at the Robert Gordon University.

The aim of EThOSnet is to take the work done under EThOS and bring it up to a point where UK institutions can actually start to become early adopters, to start to digitise the back-catalogue of print theses in the UK, investigate technology for the current and the future incarnations of the system, and to basically kick-start a genuinely viable service for deposit and dissemination of UK theses.

At this stage, the project does not have a Project Manager, which is causing minor hold-ups initially, but Project Director, and Director of Library Services Clare Jenkins of Imperial College Library has stepped in to hold things together until one is appointed (we are expecting to hear very soon). In the interim, the Project Board has also been put in place to check that all the 7 Work Packages have the things they need to get going.

Of these 7 workpackages, the first and last are concerned with project management and exit strategy, and the meat of the project will take place in packages 2 - 6. Details of these work packages are available in the project proposal, which will hopefully be available on the JISC website soon.

A quick summary, then, of some of the changes and more concrete decisions that we made during the meeting:

  • We have set a pleasingly high target of 20,000 digitised theses and 3,000 born-digital theses by the end of the project. This will be sourced from the many institutions who have already expressed an interest in adopting the service, before the project is even going!

  • The first port of call for the technology is to smooth the process of the existing software tools for repository users. I would hope to have something which works well for DSpace available quickly, and general enough to be part of the main distribution. EPrints is already fully compliant, and Fedora has representitives from the University of Hull looking after it.

  • Communications will be done primarily through a soon-to-exist project wiki, and it is hoped that the existing E-Theses UK list will be used more heavily than it is already. Imperial College has agreed to host the existing ethos website, the wiki, and potentially the toolkit if necessary (currently hosted at RGU).

  • Toolkit development will be ongoing, with work being done on it within a wiki, but with the option to move to some XML format for the final product

This is a very big project, and I can't possibly represent everything that came out of Tuesday's meeting here. In the near future expect to see links to the project wiki appear and more information to come out.

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