The objective behind this theses portal is to facilitate synergy between those involved with theses in France. This portal thus plays an important role in promoting French research as a whole by federating access to French theses and providing information and a package of services covering the whole thesis process ranging from the choice of subject to the promotion and dissemination of the written thesis.

Why have a theses portal ?

The idea behind the theses portal project comes from the Salençon report which recommended the creation of research portals with an overall scope. It notably pointed out that “the world of industry is interested both in theses that are submitted and theses in progress and expresses regret that a one-stop portal for submitted theses cannot be found”.

The final report by the FutuRIS working group “Entreprise et Recherche Publique ” (The Private Sector and Public Sector Research) recommended setting up a one-stop shop for all theses (recommendation #25). It said “This system would be responsible for referencing, archiving and disseminating all theses in progress and which have been submitted from all (French) institutions authorised to grant doctorates […], to guarantee better visibility both nationally and internationally. It would also provide direct access to thesis texts that exist in digital format. The idea is not to set up a new system but rather […] to provide a single access point for all the existing structures. This one-stop shop should become the reference site on a national scale and thus facilitate access to theses for socio-economic players.”

Why ABES ?

ABES has been working on referencing theses for a long time. This work began with Télétheses and continues with its successor Sudoc and references all French theses dating right back to 1972. In 2006 the STAR application (“Signalement des theses électroniques, archivage et recherche”, “Referencing, archiving and searching digital theses”) was launched to disseminate, reference and provide long-term preservation for digital thesis content. The working group and the Scientific Committee of the Sudoc portal jointly recommended the idea of a theses portal.

The French Ministry for Higher Education and Research (MESR) selected ABES to set up this theses portal given our unquestioned experience in the field and in-depth knowledge of the whole thesis process in France.

The theses portal’s missions

  • to promote and disseminate French research work;
  • to increase the scientific renown of institutions supervising doctoral work;
  • help young researchers to find jobs;
  • streamline thesis referencing channels;
  • facilitate access to full text theses.

Domain name

ABES bought the domain name

Who is the theses portal aimed at ?

  • the academic world;
  • doctoral students – to facilitate contacts with companies (choosing a subject, job-hunting);
  • companies – to promote technology transfer and facilitate the recruitment of young doctors.

Several surveys were carried out to identify the requirements of the target users of the theses portal and classify those needs in order of importance. Those surveyed were:

  • education institutions regarding the ergonomic of the new STAR application;
  • doctoral students to identify their requirements;
  • education institutions to determine how data should be exchanged with the portal;
  • companies to identify their requirements.

In partnership with the APIE (Agence du patrimoine immatériel de l’Etat, Immaterial Property State Agency), ABES carried out a study to find the best business model for the portal and how to implement pay services. Focus groups were also set up to modify development work according to the reactions of potential users.

What the theses portal will do ?

To improve the visibility of in-progress and submitted theses, the theses portal offers a one-stop shop interface which respects intellectual property laws and:

  • will publicise companies’ thesis project proposals which are on the portal’s partners’ sites;
  • will reference thesis subjects and the submitted version of thesis whatever their format;
  • will provide access to full text versions of theses
    • directly for digital format theses,
    • through inter-library loans,
    • in single copy print or scan versions,
    • which may be consulted in the libraries and if there is a digital version of such theses the portal will reference it in a full text version;
  • will assist doctoral students with job hunting by putting them in contact with the companies indicated by the portal’s partners.

The portal will also:

  • aggregate information on both in progress and submitted theses,
  • make its date available to third-party applications via APIs, web services and RSS feeds,
  • make bibliometric use of its data.

Types of works covered

The theses portal is based on the Central Theses File (records of theses in progress in the Humanities and Social Sciences) which has been redeveloped and extended to include the STEP application (referencing of theses in progress) and the features of the STAR application (legal deposit of digital theses). It also promotes and disseminates Sudoc data concerning theses.

The theses portal does not actually host theses. It provides access to online documents by directing users to the sites that disseminate them. It is up to the host institutions to decide how it hosts its theses.

The theses portal only covers doctoral theses and information on authorisations to direct research theses (HDR) but not “thèses d’exercice” (PhD theses) or theses written by students from the French “grandes écoles”.

The portal’s coverage area includes the whole “life-cycle” of a thesis from the subject being registered to the post-thesis period (comments, spin-off publications, articles by the researcher).

STAR only covers native digital theses whereas the theses portal will cover all theses:

  • in the submitted version whatever its format (native digital theses, print versions of theses, microfiches, theses scanned by the authors’ home institutions);
  • and in all “derived” versions such as those published on a commercial basis and so forth.

Metadata and interoperability

The majority of the portal’s metadata is compatible with TEF (French Digital Theses) metadata, the data model on which STAR is based. To cover all formats of French theses, the TEF model has been extended to:

  • prior to the pre-thesis phase: theses in progress;
  • subsequent to the post-thesis phases: the derived versions of the thesis.

International interoperability is essential for the visibility of the work of young researchers and their institutions. The theses portal is interoperable with European platforms like Dart Europe – which was already interoperable with STAR - DRIVER and so forth.
 The portal’s vocation is to aggregate information and to be aggregated itself, to re-use and to be reused (mash up). This will not be a “dead-end portal” but rather a portal for the other portals.

Like STAR, the portal is interoperable :

  •  “upstream”: with the information systems of the thesis institutions where it will recover data from management software such as APOGEE, GRAAL, ADUM, etc.;
  • “downstream” with :
    • aggregators like DART Europe or OAISTER;
    • digital work environment (ENTs) via RSS , OAI or specialised web services;
    • search engines to obtain refined referencing and good ranking.

Indirect interaction will be available via the portal with services provided by our partners such as on-line documents, individual scanned copy requests, Inter-Library Loans, job offers or thesis grants without actual storage on the portal database. In reverse, certain external sites will be able to display information from the theses portal such as submitted thesis subjects, upcoming submissions, authors’ bibliographies from Sudoc and so forth.

Copyright and similar rights, confidentiality

The theses portal strictly respects all current legislation concerning:

  • intellectual property and copyright. No document will be disseminated without obtaining the prior authorisation of rights holders (thesis author, host institution, rights holders of any works included in the thesis);
  • personal data.

There are also features preventing the publication of confidential information and documents such as subjects and theses under embargo.

STAR : the basis of the portal

The portal is equipped with an interface for the display of data accessible on . STAR is the publishing module for digital thesis data which is legally deposited. Consequently, STAR is completely integrated onto the portal providing an interface for professionals to work with part of the portal’s data.

Theses portal participants and partners

ABES has federated the main players in theses for this project :

  • The departments involved at the Ministry for Higher Education and Research: General Directorate for Higher Education and Professional Integration (DGESIP), General Directorate for Research and Innovation (DGRI).
  • Institutions authorised to grant doctorates.
  • The National Thesis Reproduction Workshops (ANRT) in Lille and Grenoble.
  • Subject databases:
    • Thésa (the Conference of the “Grandes Écoles” – CGE - database housed by INIST-CNRS, the Institute for Scientific and Technical Information;
    • the Central Theses File (FCT) the management of which was transferred to ABES in January 2010 from Paris West University Nanterre La Défense. When the theses portal is launched, the FCT interface will disappear and will be integrated into the portal’s interface (see STEP).
  • The database for submitted theses (Sudoc).
  • Main players in the field of digital theses: CINES (National Computer Centre of Higher Education), CCSD (Centre for Direct Scientific Communication) and establishments with institutional archives.
  • Services which manage doctoral students:
    • AMUE (Agency for the Mutualisation of Universities and HE institutions) for its software programmes APOGEE (Application for the Organisation and Management of Students and Teachers) and GRAAL (Research Management, Application concerning Laboratory Activities);
    • ADUM, the internet information, services and communication portal for Doctoral Students and Doctors of the “Académie” of Montpellier.
  • Associations and the private sector:
    • ANRT, French National Agency for Research and Technology;
    • Bernard Grégory Association for its work on the promotion of training through research within industry and companies and on professional integration of young doctors in all disciplines;
    • Confederation of Young Researchers (Confédération des jeunes chercheurs);
    • Guild of Doctoral Students (Guilde des Doctorants);
    • ANDES (National Association of Doctors);
    • MEDEF (French National Companies Association)
    •  CGPME (French Confederation of SME employers).
  • International organisations:
    • NTLTD (Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations)
    • DART Europe
    • DRIVER

Steering and management of the project

The project will be managed by a Steering Committee (comité de définition et d’orientation, CDO).
The committee is made up of:

  • 3 representatives of the Ministry for Higher Education and Research, MESR (MISTRD ; DGESIP ; DGRI),
  • 1 representative of the Conference of University Presidents (CPU),
  • 1 representative of the Conference of the “Grandes Écoles” (CGE),
  • 1 representative of doctoral courses run by institutions authorised to grant doctorates,
  • 2 representatives of private sector research,
  • 3 representatives of national level organisations working on theses: INIST-CNRS, ANRT Lille, CINES,
  • 3 representatives of associations : Association Bernard Gregory, Association of Directors of University Libraries, AURA (association of the network of ABES’s user institutions),
  • Representatives of ABES : management, the Studies & Projects (Etudes et Projets) Department, project team.

Project schedule

  • 2011
    • Start 2011 : beta version
    • End 2011 : launch of portal and its services
  • 2010
    • continued analysis of requirements and users
    • market research study (identification of the requirements of the private sector, study of the portal’s business model)
    • continued development work
    • launch of the new STAR
  • 2009
    • feasibility study
    • analysis of requirements and users
    • technical study
    • development of the heart of the project
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