STAR is the one-stop shop for institutions which direct theses to promote and disseminate their theses through the traditional channels like archiving or referencing and using optional methods like dissemination servers outside the institution itself and full-text indexing.

STAR - at the heart of French digital theses

After several years of strategic study, experimental pilots and awareness drives, the production and dissemination of digital theses took on a whole new dimension with the publication of the ministerial decree dated August 7th 2006 on the methods of deposit, referencing, reproduction, dissemination and preservation of theses and other works submitted for a doctorate.
 ABES and CINES (National Computer Centre of Higher Education) set up the STAR (Referencing, archiving and searching digital theses) application at the centre of the new modernised system. They based their work on the recommendation of the AFNOR group on the metadata of digital theses.
 All the necessary regulatory, logistical and technical conditions were fulfilled to give new life to French theses.
 ABES provides the thesis community with a STAR brochure with useful information for all institutions having opted for digital deposit of theses rather than print deposit in accordance with the August 7th 2006 ministerial decree.

If you need brochures :  please request them from the ABESstphelp desk .

An overall system

The transition to digital theses needs to be carried out with care because the challenge is not just to produce and submit theses in a new digital format. Even after digital submission, several crucial questions remain to be answered namely how to provide access to digital theses, how to reference and disseminate them and how to ensure their long-term preservation. This is a real overall system involving different players in institutions which direct theses along with the national players mentioned in the ministerial decree. A thesis is firstly a document which is locally produced and evaluated by a given institution but it has a much broader subsequent vocation. The host institution needs to work hand-in-hand with other partners to make sure its theses are widely disseminated, exhaustively referenced and preserved on a long-term basis.

A new system requires a new tool

The move to paperless theses brought the opportunity to also make the thesis management and dissemination system paperless while simultaneously rationalising the whole process, making it more fluid and providing new outlets for thesis referencing, user searches and dissemination. This was precisely the spirit in which ABES developed the STAR application to play a central role in the new national theses system. STAR acts as an interface between the thesis host institutions and all other French bodies and individuals interested in the promotion and dissemination of theses. STAR is the one-stop shop through which host institutions can find new channels to promote and disseminate their theses, be they more traditional channels like archiving or referencing or optional methods like dissemination servers outside the institution itself and full-text indexing. To use another metaphor, STAR is like a dispatching office.

STAR : incoming

Host institutions use the application to deposit their thesis files (archiving and dissemination) and to enter both descriptive and/or administrative (archiving, rights) metadata linked to them. Each institution possesses a collaborative web workspace which its different constituent elements (doctoral student, doctoral school, resource or documentation centres etc.) can use to carry out the work they are authorized to do by the system. Several configurations are available on STAR to fit the different organisational setups of the doctoral establishments.
 User institutions are also able to interconnect STAR with their own local information systems. Rather than entering or re-entering thesis metadata on STAR, these can be imported in the TEF (French Digital Theses) format. This XML format permits the exchange of standardised and validated French digital thesis metadata.

STAR : outgoing

After the files and metadata have been checked by a body approved by the institution, STAR exports the archive files and some of the metadata to the CINES archiving platform while also converting the TEF metadata into Unimarc for mass inclusion in the Sudoc catalogue. Referencing in the Sudoc catalogue is essential to make up the national thesis bibliography and here it is done automatically which makes things simpler for libraries.

STAR also makes the metadata available for the community in the format required (TEF or Dublin Core) along with a version for dissemination via an OAI-PMH repository. This repository is regularly harvested by DART, the European theses database.
 Finally, STAR assigns a long term URL identifier to each thesis to thus consolidate an access address for the full-text version of the document, whichever dissemination platform is chosen.
 Alongside these promotion and dissemination channels, STAR also offers extra options to institutions such as the possibility to export the thesis to a dissemination server like CCSD or ABES.


STAR also offers other supplementary features alongside its role as a dispatching office.

  • formatting and printing of some of the metadata in the form of an acknowledgement slip. This slip is the equivalent for digital theses of the traditional receipt of registration form used with print version theses. In fact, the digital thesis management circuit will still need to use a print document with traditional hand-written signatures until such a time as digital signature technologies are more widespread.
  • archiving digital theses : STAR acts as an intermediary between participating institutions and the Archiving Platform set up by CINES (PAC, Plateforme d'Archivage au CINES) dealing with both the initial file transfer and, if necessary, the retrieval of an archived thesis.
  • entering thesis metadata: this is a collaborative process which requires input from different work departments within the participating institutions. Certain metadata is common to different work departments (information on the doctoral student, the thesis director, the thesis committee, examination date, thesis title and so forth) whereas other metadata derives from one work area alone. An example would be the authority metadata. With STAR, librarians can link thesis references to authority records in the Sudoc catalogue to simplify and check data entries. Other metadata is then entered automatically such as the technical metadata linked to each file of the archived thesis.
  • using the database: the metadata base can be searched by participating institutions for administrative purposes.
  • unique identifier: a long-term process identifier (PID, Process) is attributed to each thesis. This provides access to the online thesis on a long-term basis wherever it may end up. For example, only this PID will be included in Sudoc records. ABES will also maintain a resolving service which will make sure the connection works between the PID and a given thesis’ URL(s). Follow-up management of the URLs will be carried out only on STAR. Finally this PID and its resolving service offer advanced features for refined management of the different versions, editions and locations of each thesis.

To find out more

Ministerial decree dated August 7th 2006 the methods of deposit, referencing, reproduction, dissemination and preservation of theses and other works

TEF : AFNOR - metadata format recommendations for French Digital Thesis.

Mennessier Anne-Laurence ; Daubernat Séverine ; Giloux Marianne ; Mauger Perez Isabelle, "Valorisation de la production académique - Collecte, conservation, diffusion", Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France, 2011, n°1 -

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