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University celebrates 100th electronic thesis

Issued: Thu, 29 May 2008 16:53:00 BST

Photo: Dr Katie Davis receiving champagne from the University Librarian Helen DurndellTo celebrate the deposit of the 100th electronic thesis in the Glasgow Theses Services, University Librarian, Helen Durndell, was delighted to present Dr Katie Davis from the Division of Environmental & Evolutionary Biology with a bottle of champagne. Katie’s thesis ‘Reweaving the tapestry: a supertree of birds’ is the 100th to be deposited since the service was established. Since the start of the 2007/2008 semester all students had been required to submit one electronic and one printed copy of their thesis. The electronic copies are made freely available online in the Glasgow Theses Services, part of Enlighten, the University’s institutional repository. Glasgow joined a number of other Scottish institutions in requiring the deposit of an e thesis, recognising that the online availability of theses is critical in encouraging use of this important research material, and in publicising on a worldwide scale the research being carried out at the University.

Katie Davis said ‘I was happy to make my thesis available online and I think it's a positive move for Glasgow University to have made this compulsory. It's good to know that other people can easily access my work if they wish. I think it's a good idea to increase visibility of PhD theses that otherwise might not be easily accessible. It's also a plus point for the environment if each student only needs to print one final copy of their thesis rather than two!’

Professor Rod Page, Katie’s supervisor, and Professor of Taxonomy said ‘Electronic theses are tremendously valuable. In some cases they are more informative than the publications derived form the thesis, because they contain vital methodological details that may be omitted from the published papers. Some chapters (or, indeed, entire theses) may never be published. If the thesis is not available electronically, this represents an enormous waste of intellectual effort. In the age of Google, theses that aren't deposited in electronic repositories are effectively invisible. Katie's thesis describes a "supertree" of birds, that is an evolutionary for all birds, based on hundreds of published studies painstakingly retrieved from the literature. Her work will be invaluable as a tool for comparative biologists, as it gives them a framework in which to interpret their results. Biologists working on mammals already have a supertree for their organisms, but prior to Katie's work ornithologists have had to rely on an incomplete and poorly resolved tree first published in 1990.’

Helen Durndell, University Librarian said ‘I am delighted to be able to congratulate Katie in person for being the 100th student to deposit her thesis in this new service. It is excellent to see the range of research topics being covered at Glasgow and know that there is now a robust infrastructure to increase the visibility of research and researchers.’

The Glasgow Theses Service can be accessed at http://theses.gla.ac.uk