Accessing electronic theses

FAQ: How can I get hold of a PhD thesis on my chosen topic?

Other people’s theses can be useful for both content and framework.  Not only are they useful models for new PhD students, but also they contain comprehensive literature reviews, detailed methodologies and interesting findings which can be compared with one’s own.

There are a couple of key sources of UK theses: EThOS and Index to Theses.  Printed copies of Northampton theses are also available in the two university libraries and indexed in NECTAR.

EThOS  (Electronic Theses Online Service)

BLlogo100ethosbannerEThOS is the British Library’s thesis service.  Since October 2008 the British Library have supplied UK theses electronically via EThOS, replacing their previous microfilm service.  EThOS now has records for over 300,000 UK theses, and full text for over 87,500 of these (as at March 2013).

To access EThOS simply go to the EThOS website (, type your search term into the box and click on the GO button.  The results list will show clearly whether the thesis is available for immediate download.

Following the ‘View thesis’ link will take you to further information about the thesis, including (if available) an abstract and link to the full text.  EThOS harvests thesis records from institutional repositories like NECTAR and sometimes it may be quicker to download a thesis from the original source.

To download a thesis from EThOS you will have to register with the service and log in.  The download and delivery choices include the option to receive the thesis on DVD or in printed form and because of this use a ‘shopping basket’ to manage the process.  As long as you choose a digital download direct to your computer there is no charge.

The EThOS website has a good Help facility as well as FAQs covering most topics.  If you would like to know more about download statistics for Northampton theses then contact Miggie or Nick for details.

Index to Theses

ItT_logo_landscape_mediumIndex to Theses is a subscription service that is available on campus only.  No login is required.  Index to Theses has nearly 600,000 theses in its collection, and claim to cover all British and Irish theses back to 1716.  Over half of the records have abstracts and 50,000 or so are available to download.

There are several search options: quick, simple, standard and advanced.  Results are returned as a list showing author and title for each thesis; clicking on an entry takes you to the abstract and offers direct routes to full text (if available).  If no route to full text is given at the top of the page, clicking on the University name will take you to a page of further information including links to the institution’s repository, EThOS, departmental web pages, university library catalogue and so forth – giving you a chance to find the thesis for yourself.

Printed theses in the University libraries

All Northampton theses are listed on the Library catalogue.  Including the terms PhD thesis northampton in your search strategy will restrict the results to local PhD theses.  Don’t forget you can use the facets on the left hand side of the screen to refine your search.

Printed PhD theses are held in the appropriate library (Park or Avenue) for their discipline.  For security reasons they are stored in locked cabinets so to read one you will need to ask a member of library staff for help.  They may not be taken out of the library.

University of Northampton theses in NECTAR

Each research student at Northampton is now required to deposit the full text of the final version of their thesis in NECTAR.  For older theses, or where full text is not available, a metadata record has in most cases been created from the printed copies in the libraries.  These data can be searched by key word or browsed for within NECTAR.

Image credit: HeppDesigns

Posted on May 9, 2013, in Library and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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