Dr Arthur Smith, Deputy Head of Scholarly Communication, said: “Open Access enables research. By eliminating the barriers between people and knowledge we can realise new breakthroughs in all areas of science, medicine and technology. It is especially important for disseminating the knowledge acquired during doctoral research studies. PhD theses contain a vast trove of untapped and unique information just waiting to be used, but which is often locked away from view and scrutiny.
“From October 2017 onwards, all PhD students graduating from the University of Cambridge will be required to deposit an electronic copy of their doctoral work for future preservation. And like Professor Hawking, we hope that many students will also take the opportunity to freely distribute their work online by making their thesis Open Access. We would also invite former University alumni to consider making their theses Open Access, too.”
While the University is committed to archiving all theses it is often a struggle gaining permission to open up historic theses. With the online publication of Professor Hawking’s thesis, Cambridge now hopes to encourage its former academics – which includes 98 Nobel Affiliates – to make their work freely available to all.
To make more of the University’s theses Open Access in Apollo, the Office of Scholarly Communication and Cambridge University Library will digitise the theses of any alumni who wish to make their dissertation Open Access. Interested alumni should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
At a recent event to celebrate the 1,000th research dataset in Apollo, Dr Jessica Gardner, Director of Library Services, said: “Cambridge University Library has a 600-year-old history we are very proud of. It is home to the physical papers of such greats as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. Their research data was on paper and we have preserved that with great care and share it openly on line through our digital library.
“But our responsibility now is today’s researcher and today’s scientists and people working across all disciplines across our great university. Our preservation stewardship of that research data from the digital humanities across the biomedical and that is a core part of what we now do.”
Apollo is home to over 200,000 digital objects including 15,000 research articles, 10,000 images, 2,400 theses and 1,000 datasets. The items made available in Apollo have been accessed from nearly every country in the world and in 2017 have collectively received over one million downloads.
Professor Hawking’s 1966 doctoral thesis ‘Properties of expanding universes’ is available in Apollo at https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11283 or in high resolution on Cambridge Digital Library at https://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-PHD-05437/1
For further information about Open Access Week, visit: www.openaccessweek.org