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By Paul Waldock
Content Manager, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

(In the first of a series of posts by members of our dissertations team, Paul Waldock, Content Manager, shares his favorite example of how an old dissertation was dusted off and brought to light for the furtherance of scholarly research.

In late 2013, we undertook a project with a large Scottish university where we scanned a collection of 2,000 of their theses. As part of these projects, we always ask the universities for an inventory of the material we will be taking away. The inventory for this particular project was generated directly from the university library’s holdings system. It was very interesting to me, because in addition to the usual info - like name, title, year of award, etc – it also included the total number of loans, and the last time the work was checked out.

One of the theses that struck me was one that compared the work of Aristotle and the English philosopher Francis Bacon – "The Scientific Method and Achievement of Aristotle and Bacon" by William M. Dickie. This Ph.D. was awarded in 1925, but because of the nature of the material could be of just as much interest to a student of philosophy now as when it was written. However, the library records revealed that this work had only been checked out three times (the last time was 1997).

Part of the issue was accessibility. At the time of digitization this thesis was in the Closed Access Store at the university’s Sir Duncan Rice Library, which meant that even if you were aware of its existence getting to it would not have been easy.

Now though, the digital version is available to anyone via ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. In the last 10 months of being in the digitized product, there has been a more than 10-fold increase in access on the previous 90 years - an impressive increase, and a good indication of the value of ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Learn more here about ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, or take a look at one of our case studies:

- Digital Archiving and Access Program (Tulane University)
- Making Submissions Easy (Michigan Technological University)
- Developing Your Institutional Repository (Boston College)


30 Mar 2015

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