The Saudi Digital Library (SDL) is the national online digital library in Saudi Arabia, and the largest source of academic information in the Arab world.
At the recent SLA Arabian Gulf Conference, Zoë Loveland, ProQuest Senior Director Regional Marketing, had the opportunity to meet and talk with Dr. Saud Mossa Alsalahi, the new General Director for Saudi Digital Libraries.
The conversation focused on the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education’s vision for 2030 to have at least 5 of the nation’s universities ranking among the top 100 in the world, and how the SDL is working to support this mission, potentially with support from the ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Global database.
As the General Director for Saudi Digital Libraries, Dr. Alsalahi is an official in the Ministry of Education, which has prioritized building awareness of research output from Saudi Arabian universities. The goal is to promote the Saudi researchers’ participation in the global academic community and elevate the status of Saudi universities.
“This year,” Dr. Alsalahi explained, “we expanded the scope of the SDL’s involvement in Saudi scientific research to enhance productivity and to increase the visibility of our research output nationally and internationally.”
A new award program has recently been launched by the Ministry of Education to give recognition to the work of Saudi researchers in the sciences who have their work published in academic journals.
This award program is just one of several new initiatives that have been kicked off to support and nurture Saudi students and researchers.
“These initiatives are varied,” Dr. Alsalahi said. “For example, some of them are related to benchmarking the quality of the work we are doing at the SDL against other digital libraries around the world. Other initiatives strive to maximize the usage of our content. This is being done by raising awareness in our end users and among the broader community about digital accuracy and digital literacy. “
In relation to this last initiative, the Ministry of Education has created a Center for Society and Literacy Awareness, which offers a portal to open access resources available to students and scholars at every stage of their academic development, including K-12.
In addition to these education initiatives which have already launched, the SDL is working with the Ministry of Education on another series of initiatives that focus on making theses and dissertations from Saudi researchers more accessible to scholars within Saudi Arabia, and around the world.
The SDL “is helping our graduate students upload their dissertations and theses through us. This is a new marketplace where this hasn’t been done before,” Dr. Alsalahi said. “The SDL has established a portal for Saudi-sponsored students all over the world and we now have 27,000 dissertations in this repository.”
However, accessibility to this research is closed, and only accessible to people within the SDL consortium. The SDL is taking the lead through a series of initiatives to expand access to these dissertations and theses.
In making theses and dissertations from Saudi researchers available to the international academic community, scholars around the world benefit from the information and insights that may not be available from any other sources. According to Dr. Alsalahi, Saudi universities are particularly strong in medicine and engineering areas where communication of cutting-edge discoveries is especially valuable for advancement.
Dissemination of theses and dissertations would also raise awareness of scholarly achievements of researchers at Saudi universities and contribute to realizing the 2030 vision to increase the global ranking of these institutions.
“We know each researcher has the potential to help humankind and expand global knowledge, which is not culture specific,” he said. “We are open to any initiative or any proposal that help accelerate the process of attaining our goals.”
“We have been negotiating with ProQuest in order to increase the visibility of our research output,” Dr. Alsalahi continued. The SDL provides researchers at Saudi universities with several other ProQuest resources, including ebooks and databases, resulting in a strong relationship.
With this repository of Saudi research included in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global (PQDT), researchers at more than 3000 institutions would have access to it. “We are very sure that ProQuest, according to our history of working together in the past, has the experience to help us,” Dr. Alsalahi said.
“Once PQDT makes available Saudi research output, it will increase citation of these works and put Saudi researchers in a good position in the global academic community. This will empower our country to move forward with our goals in education and economy.”
Read the full interview in Arabic via http://internationalnews.proquest.com/blog/emea-ar/13797/
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ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global simplifies searching for dissertations and theses via a single access point to explore an extensive, trusted collection of 4 million graduate works, with 2 million in full text. Designated as an official offsite repository dissertations for the U.S. Library of Congress, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global offers comprehensive historic and ongoing coverage from 3,100 contributing university partners around the globe.