Publishing PhD papers ‘improves a university’s profile’

Theses in open-access repository at Dublin City University have been downloaded almost 1.4 million times

September 30, 2015
Dusty books open access repository Indiana Jones
Source: istock
Theses that might otherwise go unread are now being downloaded

Publishing PhD dissertations on a university’s website can help to improve its global reputation for research excellence, an international conference has heard.

Around 1.36 million downloads of research papers from Dublin City University’s (DCU) open-access research portal so far are doctoral theses, explained Lisa Looney, its dean of graduate studies.

Speaking at a European University Association event at Imperial College London to mark the launch of FRINDOC, a European Commission-backed project to internationalise doctoral education, Professor Looney said that eight of the 10 most downloaded items were doctoral theses.

“Doctoral students are driving our institutional reputation globally because of the easy access to these theses,” said Professor Looney.

Interest in material available on the DCU Online Research Access Service (Doras) also helped shine a light on PhD research that might otherwise go unread, she added.

“My doctoral thesis, which was on engineering, is probably sitting on a dusty bookshelf somewhere,” she told the audience of about 100 graduate school leaders on 25 September.

Many of the most popular dissertations on the Doras site are in subjects where the publication of amended PhD theses is not the norm, meaning that the material is seldom viewed outside the university, Professor Looney added.

“If theses don’t make it as a book or on Amazon, they are now being downloaded,” she said.

Theses by PhD students arriving from industry and not seeking an academic career are among those least likely to be published in book or journal form, but the Doras portal, which contains about 2,300 theses, now gave these dissertations a new visibility, Professor Looney told Times Higher Education.

DCU, which was founded in 1975, awarded university status in 1989 and has 14,000 students, is one of two Irish institutions to feature in this year’s Times Higher Education 100 Under 50 Rankings.

As well as its improved research profile – with research funding rising from about €3 million (£2.2 million) in 2000 to about €35 million last year – DCU’s strong performance in THE’s ranking was driven by its strong international links at postgraduate level, Professor Looney said.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments


Print headline: Publishing PhD theses ‘boosts a campus’ profile’

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald