Until now most theses reside in a dusty basement or on a supervisor’s shelf, but we are in transition to a world where all theses are -potentially – Openly visible to anyone. Surely this is a good idea.
In principle, of course, anyone can see my thsesis. It’s badly written and the examiners rightly gave me a terrible time, but all the work in it was eventually published in peer-reviewed journals. In those days corrections meant ripping the thesis apart and Tippexing or rebinding. At the distance of some decades I’m now very happy if Oxford wishes to digitize it and put it on the web. Linguists can use it a useful source of typos.
Do all academics feel that Open theses are a good idea?
Two recent anecdotes – paraphrased and anonymized:
Academic 1: “I wouldn’t want people to see our theses – many of them are of terrible quality”.
Academic 2: “I wouldn’t want anyone to see our theses – there are so many good ideas that we don’t want our competitors to see.”
This makes the case strongly that Open theses will improve quality and the dissemination of science.