Category: Theses

Thesis Thursday from 1920: “He wanted to infuse others with the spirit of research and to disseminate knowledge”

To commemorate the second Thesis Thursday during global Open Access Week (October 21-27, 2019) we have gone down to the basement of Central Library here at South Kensington to look at our collection of doctoral theses.

It’s there that we discovered the earliest doctorate thesis that we hold (the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) to one Surendra Nath Dhar with a thesis entitled A New Method of Halogenation which was awarded in 1920 in the Department of Chemistry.

Surendra was a twenty-six year old Chemist from Assam in India who to came to London in September 1918 in the very last months of the Great War. He was a student of Sir Jocelyn Field Thorpe – but here’s the whole story written by Tanjore S. Natrajan courtesy of the Journal of the Chemical Society, Transactions.

SURENDRA NATH DHAR was born in January, 1892, in a village in the Moulviba, zar sub-division of the district of Sylhet in Assam. He received his early schooling in the village ”Pathsala” and later in Muraricharid school at Sylhet. In 1909, he passed the entrance examination of the University of Calcutta and became a ward of Sir Prafulla Chandra Ray. Studying first at the Ripon College and later at the Berhampore College, he completed the courses for the intermediate and final B.Sc. examinations; in the latter, he was placed in the first division with honours in chemistry.

Dhar’s post-graduate studies commenced in 1913 at Dacca under Dr. E. R. Watson (now Principal of the Technological College at Cawnpore) and he obtained the M,Sc. degree (first class) in 1915. It is at this time he was initiated into research work on the xanthone series by Dr. Watson. As Assam Government Scholar, he carried on research work at the Presidency College, Calcutta, for two years. He was then appointed Professor of Chemistry at the A. M. College, Mymensingh (Bengal) and, three months later, Guru Prasanna Ghose Scholar of the Calcutta University. On the recommendation of the Government of Assam, the scholarship of the Government of India was awarded to him. With these two scholarships, Dhar left for England in September, 1918. He entered the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, where, under the able guidance of Professor J. F. Thorpe, he continued his work on the xanthone series. After a year’s work, he was admitted to the D.Sc. Degree of the London University. He spent a year in touring the Continent, and then, after working for some time on colours at the Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik, returned to India. In July, 1921, he entered the Indian Educational Service and was appointed Professor of Technical Chemistry at the Civil Engineering College, Guindy, Madras.

Here, unsupported, and hampered by the difficulties attending retrenchment, Dhar laboured to improve the condition of the chemical department. Here also, on December 9th, 1923, occurred his tragic death, due to the inadvertent inhalation (or tasting?) of potassium cyanide fumes.

Dhar leaves behind an old mother, a young wife-he was married, only in June, 1923, to Miss Nanda Rani Sinha-and a large circle of friends and co-workers at Madras and Assam. Whatever might have been his rank as a chemist, his place as a man is assuredly very high. He wanted to infuse others with the spirit of research and to disseminate knowledge. His maxim was :-” No one for himself alone; all for all and every one for others.” He was intensely religious and a splendid example of plain living and high thinking. Simple in habits, unostentatious in manner, diligent in study, and careful in his work, he gave promise of a great career, which the cruel hand of death has brought to an untimely end. An affectionate son, a loving friend, and a dutiful man, his like it will not be easy to find.

T. S. NATRAJAN

SURENDRA NATH DHAR.
BORN JANUARY, 1892; DIED DECEMBER ~TH, 1923.

DOI: 10.1039/CT9242502677 (Other) J. Chem. Soc., Trans., 1924, 125, 2677-2698
Surendra sounded like a thoroughly nice chap and of the three published papers he produced during his time at Imperial, like all good students he thanked his research supervisors for their “kind encouragement” –  Professor J Thorpe but also Martha Annie Whiteley, a prominent Chemist who was best known for her dedication to advancing women’s equality in the field of chemistry.
Dhar, Surendra Nath. A New Method of Halogenation (1920). Print.
Imperial’s first doctorate Dhar, Surendra Nath. A New Method of Halogenation (1920). Print.
The most famous/notorious story in chemistry about cyanide revolves around Gilbert N Lewis, who despite being nominated 41 times for the Nobel prize and who was the first person to identify the modern story of the chemical bond in 1916 never won it. His great rival however, Irving Langmuir, did win it and was suspected of poisoning him after a lunch they had together at Berkeley.  On the day of his death around  1943, he met with Langmuir for lunch and afterward went back to his laboratory, but was discovered dead an hour or so later of cyanide poisoning.

Details of our theses (and masters dissertations) we hold at Imperial are located on the Library’s theses webpages and our earliest digitised thesis comes from 1927 – with a title of “Flow of water in canals fitted with Venturi flumes” by Dr Mohammed Amin.

Happy Thesis Thursday 2019!

Copyright for Repository Administrators: Open access, Theses and GDPR

Part of my role in the Open Access team is depositing theses to Spiral and providing guidance and advocacy to students. I recently attended the Copyright for Repository Administrators: Open access, Theses and GDPR event held at the Foundling Museum which focused on best practices for e-theses in open access repositories. It specifically focused around the issues of copyright and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance; advocacy and clear guidance for students.

GDPR and repositories: making the Apollo repository compliant

There were some very interesting talks presented by the four speakers. I think one of the more interesting talks was by Zoe Walker-Fagg, Project Coordinator of Scholarly Communications at at the University of Cambridge. Her talk, entitled GDPR and repositories: making the Apollo repository compliant addressed the issue of student personal data being live on repositories. The GDPR policy came into effect in May 2018 to provide new guidelines around the handling of personal information for all EU citizens.

Zoe covered four areas where Cambridge were making their repository GDPR compliant. Firstly, the issue of student signatures in both their printed and electronic theses, a GDPR breach of personal data.   An issue face by many HEIs, including Imperial. This was tackled by manually covering up student signatures in their printed thesis as well as users’ signatures (from completed Thesis form attached to the thesis). A similar process was undertaken to delete signatures from electronic theses, which is on-going, along with retrospectively removing signature from older theses, in order to be GDPR compliant.

The second action Cambridge took was to update permission forms /deposit licences where potentially a signature would have been required and replace it with a declaration statement.  Where personal data like signatures were still required for permission forms, for example to from student for inter-library loan, these data were stored and clearly marked to be easily identifiable and kept until the appropriate length of time.

Thirdly, to update their guidance for both students and researchers depositing data into their data repository, so that it falls in line with new GDPR policy. To ensure that students and researchers have clarity around making personal information openly available and in what instances personal and sensitive datasets could be deposited. Finally, to ensure GDPR compliance, Cambridge also checked that external suppliers and support systems such as Sharepoint kept personal data in secure locations.

EThOS

Sara Gould, from the British Library talked about EThOS which is a national aggregated record of all doctoral theses awarded by UK Higher Education institutions. It offers free access to the full text of as many theses as possible for use by all researchers to further their own research. The service now holds over 500,000 UK theses, of which 54% is open access. Sara explained that the digitisation of theses via the ‘theses on demand’ service had reduced the issues of copyright (in relation to author permissions and third party copyright). This was because increasing numbers of theses are being made open access and therefore could be harvested via EThOS, either full-text or by a link to an institutional repository. The BL also encouraged repositories to mint DOIs for their theses, and students to use their ORCiD in their thesis as these identifiers can then be harvested.

Sara also touched on the issue of data protection and confirmed where possible, that the BL was removing signatures from theses when and where they found them. One caveat was the BL, understandingly, could not retrospectively remove signatures from all the copies of theses that they held. The question was raised of the difficulty of tracking down other copies (to remove signatures) on other platforms or aggregated repositories such as COnnecting REpositories (CORE)  which harvests the full-text copies of theses from UK HEI repositories as well as research outputs.

The BL is piloting their new open access shared repository, with partners from the Tate, British Museum, National Museum of Scotland and Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). The shared repository will be launched later in the year and its aim is to increase the exposure and impact of cultural research.

Open by default: electronic theses at LSHTM

Dominic Walker, (who previously worked in the OA team at Imperial) talked about Open by default: electronic theses at LSHTM, which provided an overview of the London School of Hygiene of Tropical Medicine’s open access policy in relation to e-theses, which by default makes all their theses open access under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Non Derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) (students do have an option to choose their own licence). At Imperial, since November 2018, students are now able choose from 6 Creative Commons licences, instead of the former default licence CC-BY-NC-ND.

LSHTM decided to mint DOIs for all their theses using DataCite in recognition that theses downloads are higher than publications and they contained important research. The repository also has the Altmetric plugin to measure impact and downloads  Lastly, Dominic touched upon the work LSHTM was doing on training and advocacy provided to students questions and concerns around copyright and open access of their thesis.

London South Bank University

London South Bank University’s Stephen Grace from presented on Baby See, Baby Do: modelling good scholarly communications behaviour with doctoral which looked at best practices for training, induction and advocacy. The aim was to make guidelines and regulations clear for doctoral students on the subjects of open access, copyright, licences, embargoes, research data management. Stephen encouraged institutions to make sure that students are aware about the guidelines and processes from submitting their thesis to having their thesis open access online, and the implications of open access publishing. Stephen also mentioned that institutions should consider how students can receive feedback about the impact of their thesis through Altmetric.

Overall, I think the key messages were around data protection and GDPR compliance; providing clear and effective guidelines, procedures and training on open access and copyright to enable doctoral students to make right choices.

Your choice! Selecting a Creative Commons Licence for your thesis.

Until now, all doctoral theses awarded by Imperial College London and uploaded to Spiral were automatically licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives Licence (CC BY-NC-ND).

Some students felt that this licence was too restrictive and that they should be able to choose a more permissive Creative Commons licence for their thesis. In October this became possible.

So who are Creative Commons and what licences do they offer?

Creative Commons are a non-profit organization. They realised that even when the creator of work wanted their work to be available to be copied, shared and re-used, sometimes copyright laws prevented that from happening.  As a result, they created six easy to read licences that anyone could apply to their work. These are now widely used by publishers, photographers, and educational establishments to facilitate content sharing.

All the licences allow a licensed work to be copied and shared on the condition that the original creator of the work is attributed. Attribution is another term for acknowledgement and you should either acknowledge the work as requested by the creator or using your preferred referencing style. The acronym TASL (title, author, source, licence) can help you remember what to include.

A photograph of autumn leaves
Leaves by neiljs. https://flic.kr/p/6iaoA5. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence (CC BY 2.0)

NonCommercial licences (NC) prohibit a work being used commercially, for example in a commercially published book or journal article. While NoDerivative licences (ND) prohibit reuse and redistribution of adaptions of a work. ShareAlike licences (SA) require you to distribute any derivative works you create under the same licence as the original.

The table below show how the different elements are remixed to form the six licences.

A table comparing the permissions offered by different Creative Commons Licences
Creative Commons licenses by Foter. https://foter.com/blog/how-to-attribute-creative-commons-photos/. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-SA 4.0))

 

Which licence do you recommend?

We understand that not all students will find it easy to make a choice. In this situation, we suggest you choose a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Licence.

This licence allows others to copy and redistribute all or parts of your thesis and also distribute modified versions of the work but only on the condition that they credit you as the author and do not use it, or any derivative works, for a commercial purpose.

It does not permit others to pass your work off as their own or ask a commercial publisher to publish it in a book chapter or journal article.

Having chosen my licence what next?

There are two actions you need to take. The first is to select a copyright statement to insert at the beginning of your thesis. This should be one of the statements displayed on the Selecting a Creative Commons licence webpage. Here you will see six different licences, one for each Creative Commons Licence.

The second is to select a matching Spiral licence when you upload the corrected version of your thesis to Spiral. As this won’t happen until after your viva examination we recommend that you look back at the copyright statement you inserted into your thesis before making your selection. The Creative Commons Licence mentioned in the copyright statement and the Spiral distribution licence must match.

Now I’m just confused!

Picking a licence for your work can be confusing. Try watching this short video. It will talk you through everything, show you a quick way to pick a licence and includes a screenshot of the spiral upload screen.

Good to go

You should now feel fully equipped to choose a Creative Commons Licence for your thesis but if not email library@imperial.ac.uk for further assistance.

 

Remember that if you cannot decide which licence to pick you can just select a Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Licence.

 

RDM for PhD students at Imperial

As its Open Access Week and yesterday was #ThesisThursday we thought we would write a blog post about how we support our PhD students in Research Data Management (RDM) at Imperial.

Good RDM is important for all researchers, whatever stage they are at in their careers. In particular, we recognise that for PhD students, understanding the benefits of RDM and Open Science can help them with their studies and also set them up for success in their future careers.

PhD students carrying out research at Imperial are required to deposit a copy of their final thesis in Spiral, the College’s institutional repository. They are also often required by funding bodies to produce a Data Management Plan for their project, to archive the research data underpinning their thesis, and to make this data publicly available where possible.

To support them with these requirements we’ve developed a number of initiatives.

What we offer

Once a term the RDM team hosts a ‘Managing Your Data’ session for PhD students, organised through the Graduate School Professional Development Programme. This tailored course familiarises PhD students with the Imperial College Research Data Lifecycle and explains how they can plan, store, archive and publish their research data as well as pointing them to the support available within the College. The session combines presentations with hands on exercises and activities that engage the students and encourage them to think about their particular RDM needs. Running since 2016, this course has already been delivered to over 200 PhD students.

Imperial College research data lifecycle

In conjunction with this the RDM team also host a termly ‘How to write a Data Management Plan’ webinar which all Imperial PhD students can attend. This hour long tutorial introduces students to Data Management Plans, explains the key pieces of information contained within them, and how a plan may evolve over the course of a research project. This helps students to consider their own research data and the specific data management requirements of their projects in particular.

Finally, the RDM team attempt to attend as many wider PhD library inductions as possible to introduce themselves and outline the RDM service to the students. These brief introductions are a key activity as they make visible the support available to PhD students, which otherwise may be overlooked. The offer of project specific and one-to-one support is emphasised, as are the benefits of good data management and open science. These drop in presentations are often delivered in conjunction with the Open Access team in order to promote RDM’s relevance to the wider Open Research movement.

Rather than waving the stick of compliance, the aim of all of these initiatives is to highlight the benefits of RDM to individual PhD researchers and the wider academic community. They form part of a broader objective to foster a positive culture of responsible and open science within Imperial’s research community.

For support

If you are an Imperial PhD researcher and would like help with managing your research data then you can email us at rdm-enquiries@imperial.ac.uk, check out our Research Data Management Guide, or visit our webpages here.

You may also find our quick guides on Data Management Plans, storing live data, data sharing, Data Access Statements, Symplectic and ORCiD iDs useful.

Happy Thesis Thursday – Open Access week @ Imperial

The #thesisthursday infographic was produced for Open Access Week 2018 to provide statistics of Imperial College theses collection in Spiral, the College’s repository. The infographic includes the top ten most downloaded theses in Spiral (from Sept 2013-Sept 2018) including the total number of downloads.

This is the first Thesis Thursday and was begun to commemorate the anniversary of Professor Hawking’s 1966 doctoral thesis ‘Properties of expanding universes’ being made available by the University of Cambridge for the first time and which received so many downloads it crashed their site. (1,089,008 views so far).

You can view the infographic online and click on the hyperlinked theses which will take you to the Spiral record, where you will be able to download the thesis.

The infographic also includes three graphs:

  1. Theses numbers and their status in Spiral – showing the percentages of open access theses and restricted access theses in Spiral.
  2. Thesis downloads in Spiral – showing the increase of downloads to Spiral over a 5 year period (from Sept 2013-Sept 2018).
  3. Thesis downloads in British Library EThOS (e-theses online service) – presents the projection of the number of thesis downloads from Spiral on the EThOS platform

 

Happy inaugural Thesis Thursday!

Most downloaded theses: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10

Spiral download statistics supplied by IRUS and British Library EThOS