Leo Konstantelos

Leo Konstantelos

Last updated on 8 November 2021

Leo Konstantelos is Senior Assistant Archivist (Digital) in Archives & Special Collections at the University of Glasgow

The Digital Preservation Working Group (DPWG) at the University of Glasgow is a cross-University collaboration working to implement the University’s digital policy and strategy. Established in 2015, the group oversees the delivery of digital preservation services, with representation from the University Library, IT Services and the Data Protection & Freedom of Information Office.

We’ve been busy DP bees recently, assessing Archivematica as a production-level DP platform; reviewing and elaborating on our digital archiving workflow; testing said workflow with born-digital acquisitions at the University Archives; and working on setting up an archival forensics lab. Check our #WDPD2021 posts on Twitter @UofGlasgowASC to see what we’ve been up to!

Another area that we’re currently investigating is electronic-only thesis submission, and the long-term preservation of deriving records. Work on this area started in January 2020 – see the preliminary tests with Archivematica on Preserving theses and a Theses preservation update from our DP blog. At the time, the University of Glasgow followed a hybrid submission model, whereby an electronic version was submitted for inclusion in the Enlighten: Theses record (unless access restrictions applied); together with a thesis access declaration form and a print version for addition to Library stock.

Who would have thought back then that, only two months later in March 2020, the UK would go into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Thesis deposit being one among the multitude of areas affected, led the University Library’s Theses team to update their workflows to allow for e-only submissions – a steep learning curve shared across institutions worldwide.

There is a silver lining everywhere, and this case is no exception. Building on the experience of COVID practice, a sub-group was formed in September 2021 to specifically investigate e-only thesis submission as the default model at the University of Glasgow. Although we’re still in early stages, we’ve drawn a few corollaries to guide our efforts:

  • Investment into a robust digital preservation service is paramount, if the digital record is to become the “single source of truth” for doctoral theses, with no physical copy to fall back on.

  • Having a digital preservation system in place doesn’t mean that we can meaningfully preserve e-theses for the long-term. Policies, processes and workflows need to be updated; and existing documentation needs to reflect changes (e.g. PGR handbooks, IR web pages, IT guidance).

  • Collaboration is key for success – no matter how mature our DP practice might be, we need the support of PhD students, their supervisors, PG offices, PG strategy and Library teams in order to preserve meaningful records, which capture and document all content and contextual elements of a doctoral thesis submission.

With these in mind, and with a view to break down barriers in e-only theses deposit, we have been looking into several relevant areas:

  • What updates are necessary in our workflows, processes, and documentation; as well as what elements should our DP policy include to cater for e-only theses submission.

  • How to capture embargoes, supplementary research data and non-traditional theses into digital preservation records.

  • How to streamline transfer of records from our institutional repository into the DP system.

  • What stakeholder requirements we need to take into account, in order to facilitate e-only theses and their preservation.

More questions than answers? Indeed! We’ll continue exploring and unpacking these areas in the next few months; and we look forward to sharing our findings with the community!

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