The aim of the ADT (Australian Digital Theses) Program is to establish a distributed database of digital versions of theses produced by the postgraduate research students at Australian universities. The theses are available worldwide via the web. The ideal behind the program is to provide access to and promote Australian research to the international community.
The ADT concept was an initiative of 7 Australian university’s libraries in association with the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL ).
The ADT model was developed by the 7 original project partners during 1998-1999. The program was then opened up to all CAUL members (all Australian universities) in July 2000. The original 7 partners will continue to guide and advise the national group in their role as the ADT Steering Committee.
The initial project was funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) - Research Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (RIEF) Scheme grant (1997/1998). The ARC is the peak Australian government research funding body and the grant to establish the ADT was a result of a successful application made by the group of 7 above. It was recognised at the outset that recurrent funding was going to be problematic, and that the model to be developed had to take this into consideration. The model developed is essentially self sustaining, with only a small commitment of resources required. The original funds were used to create such a self supporting distributed and collaborative system.
The software used is generic, and designed to be easily integrated at ADT member sites. Once installed, students can either self submit, or seek support free from the library. Theses are mounted on local servers and require a minimum of maintenance. The central ADT metadata repository is searchable and is created automatically from rich DC metadata generated from the submission/deposit form. The metadata is gathered automatically using a metadata gatherer robot. The idea behind the ADT is that producing research theses is normal business for universities and a commitment to include a digital copy to the ADT requires minimal resources. In fact, digital copies are much cheaper to produce that the traditional paper bound versions.
It must be noted that institutional membership and individual contributions to the ADT are voluntary, and will remain so for some time to come.
Each NDLTD member has to apply to its own national, regional and community funding agencies. However, recurrent funding will probably be an ongoing issue unless a commitment is made at the government level to support such initiatives. In the broader context, ongoing funding for an international community body, which the NDLTD now is, will be difficult to achieve. A possible solution would be for the NDLTD to seek Non-Government Organization [NGO] status and thus secure ongoing funding from UN instrumentalities such as UNESCO. Such funding is critical to ensure the good work already achieved by the NDLTD in bringing together a large and disparate number of institutions from across the globe bound by an ideal to promote, support and facilitate open unrestricted access to worldwide research contained in theses, and to share without cost/commercial barriers experiences, support and guidelines with the world community in an open, transparent way.
Next section: Costs