Back to Grey : Disclosure and Concealment of Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Abstract : The open access principle requires that scientific information be made widely and readily available to society. Defined in 2003 as a "comprehensive source of human knowledge and cultural heritage that has been approved by the scientific community", open access implies that content be openly accessible and this needs the active commitment of each and every individual producer of scientific knowledge. Yet, in spite of the growing success of the open access initiative, a significant part of scientific and technical information remains unavailable on the web or circulates with restrictions. Even in institutional repositories (IRs) created to provide access to the scientific output of an academic institution, more or less important sectors of the scientific production are missing. This is because of lack of awareness, embargo, deposit of metadata without full text, confidential content etc. This problem concerns in particular electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) that are disseminated with different status - some are freely available, others are under embargo, confidential, restricted to campus access (encrypted or not) or not available at all. While other papers may be available through alternative channels (journals, monographs etc.), ETDs most often are not. Our paper describes a new and unexpected effect of the development of digital libraries and open access, as a paradoxical practice of hiding information from the scientific community and society, while partly sharing it with a restricted population (campus). The study builds on a review of recent papers on ETDs in IRs and evaluates the availability of ETDs in a small panel of European and American academic IRs and networks. It provides empirical evidence on the reality of restricted access and proposes a model of independent variables affecting decisions on embargo and on-campus access, together with a table of different degrees of (non) open access to ETDs in IRs.
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Joachim Schöpfel, Hélène Prost. Back to Grey : Disclosure and Concealment of Electronic Theses and Dissertations. The Fifteenth International Conference on Grey Literature : "The Grey Audit : A Field Assessment in Grey Literature", Bratislava, 2-3 December 2013, Dec 2013, Slovakia. ⟨sic_00944662⟩

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