Spotted this morning by one of my eagle-eyed team (thanks Valérie) that the British Library EThOS e-thesis service has changed it’s interface. For the most part this is the introduction of a few nicer looking buttons to replace text links. However, the biggest change is the revision to how searching results now look.
Where a thesis is available for immediate download a little PDF symbol appears, although confusingly this is not a hot link. You need to click on the hyperlinked title to access the individual thesis record. However, on this next screen (shown below) you will not be able to download or even see the options for downloading unless you are logged into your personal EThOS account.
Once logged in you will now see a somewhat alarming Choose Pricing/Delivery link click on this and you will be given the options. I feel this is a little misleading given that many of the thesis (including my example above) are available for download at no cost. At this point you can proceed through the familiar add to basket, confirmation, create order and finally download.
While this does improve the look and feel of the site I think it falls down on three points – the lack of announcement from Ethos that this was happening, the lack of updated user guides and the alarming Pricing/Delivery option that will put a lot of people off downloading theses for fear they will be charged. While there are a number (around 30) universities who do charge the first user for new digitization of theses, the vast majority of us in the EThOS scheme (Leicester included) don’t, and so this is rather a false impression.
How the rest of the thesis user community reacts to this will be very interesting.
[Edit: Just noticed that some places, like Edinburgh above, have their university logo attached. Leicester doesn't (I'm not aware of us being approached for them to use it) currently have this appended to our theses on there. I actually quite like this, as it helps with the branding - but I would like them to link back to our repository as well]