98% of theses and dissertations from the Union of Arab Universities have been made available through a unified electronic repository, making research easier for hundreds of thousands of academic staff, students, and researchers in the Arab speaking world.
Scientists and researchers take existing findings and theories, question them, refine, or replace them, and seek to develop ideas further. Global access and sharing allows for faster progress and less duplication, leading to enhanced knowledge sharing which positively impacts education, research, and science.
Duplication occurs when researchers cannot make results known to others in their field or to the research community, at large, and limited access to research can cause students to settle for information that is available rather than that which is most relevant. Dissertations and theses play a major role in the educational experience, however much of this research has been treated as “grey literature” and has been difficult to organise for findability.
The University of Jordan Library has been a Theses Deposit Centre since 1986. The Library collects theses from local students and from member universities in the Association of Arab Universities, also referred to as the Union of Arab Universities. The Association, based in Jordan, aims to support, connect, and enhance collaboration among the universities in the Arab World.
In 2005, the Library began theses digitisation, which continues today. The Library’s eight employees have digitised, classified and catalogued 98% of all printed theses. To improve the process and to keep up with technological developments, in 2013 the Library launched a system for electronic theses deposit, supporting the upload of PDF and Word documents.
Today, the electronic repository holds more than 86,000 titles and is available to students and researchers of all member universities. Most theses (about 27,000 titles) come from Jordanian universities, followed by Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, and Algeria. In 2019, the repository searchers totaled over 188,000 users onsite at the University, and close to 154,000 globally online.
Academic staff, students and researchers from the University of Jordan can access theses from any workstation within the University campus, and registered users are able to access theses database (in read-only format) outside the University’s network. Members of other universities of the Union of Arab Universities can fully access the repository in read-only mode, with exception of their own university’s theses, which they can download.
The project continues, providing benefits not only to students and researchers, but to repository and library staff. A survey of postgraduate students at the University of Jordan confirmed that theses and dissertations are an important source of information in their academic studies, and evaluation results show that the digitisation project has had a positive impact on accessibility and ease of use. Library staff have revealed that the project decreased costs and space necessary for maintaining the repository.
The establishment of the theses repository ensures a smooth deposit process, and enhances communication and collaboration among Arab university libraries.