University of Kent print theses available digitally online

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50% of our University of Kent print theses will soon be available online thanks to a project run and funded by Information Services

We selected 600 of our print theses to be digitised. The digitised theses are being added to the Kent Academic Repository (KAR),  Ethos and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses where they will be accessible online worldwide.


2400 print theses were held in the basement of the library. They range from 1966 when the University first awarded PhDs to 2014. From 2014 the university’s theses have been uploaded to KAR in a digital format and so are available online.

In 2019 the Research and Scholarly Communications and Support Team began investigating the cost and feasibility of digitising our print theses collection. The majority of the university’s print theses could only be used on site. By digitising more of the collection we would make it available to the wider community and guarantee future preservation of our unique research collection. Usage of the online theses is high and we wanted to establish whether we could extend the same provision to the print collection.

Progress was delayed by Covid but in 2022 we resumed the project and sent 600 print theses to the British Library to be digitised.

A further 600 of our print theses had already been digitised some years ago as part of a national BL project.  When this latest digitisation work is complete this will mean that half of our collection will be digitally preserved and available worldwide

How we approached it

We employed an intern to scope the project.  We used the following criteria to select titles for digitisation:

  • a range across subject disciplines
  • a range across each decade
  • titles that had been most frequently requested from the library basement
  • famous alumni

We took a sub-sample of these selected titles and attempted to contact the authors to establish the feasibility of communicating with all the authors. We established that it would not be practical to communicate directly with all the theses authors, because of the time it took to acquire contact information and the low volume of responses received.

Having consulted with other university libraries who have conducted similar projects, we adopted a risk-managed approach and are making the theses available online alongside additional information about the retrospective digitisation, contact details and our take-down policy.

Benefits of digitised theses

  • More of the university’s research output is discoverable online world-wide.
  • Our theses will be in KAR, Ethos and ProQuest and appear highly ranked in the results of search engines such as Google and Google Scholar
  • We will be making the most of our existing unique collections by opening them up to the wider community, including our staff and students via Library Search
  • The university’s research longevity and capacity will be better demonstrated because our digitised theses span across 6 decades
  • We are safeguarding part of our research collection through the digital preservation of irreplaceable items
  • We will increase the opportunities for academic staff to use theses in their teaching because they can link to theses via Reading List system/Moodle. All divisions within the university will benefit

What next?

We will provide an update when the project is complete.


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