DSpace vs. ETD-db: Choosing software to manage electronic theses and dissertations
Jones, Richard D
The Theses Alive! Project, based at Edinburgh University Library and funded under the JISC Fair Programme, is aiming to produce, among other things, a software solution for institutions in the UK to implement their own E-theses or Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) online submission system and repository. In order to achieve this it has been necessary to examine existing packages that may provide all or part of the solution we desire before considering what extra development we may need to do. We evaluated two open source packages to deliver E-theses functionality via a Web-based interface: ETD-db by Virginia Tech, and DSpace written in partnership between Hewlett-Packard (HP) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A direct comparison is hard as each package is driven by different motivations: ETD-db is specifically designed for E-theses, containing a ‘workspace‘ for supervised authoring of documents, and a thesis-specific metadata set; DSpace has been developed to aid the creation of institutional repositories, with the emphasis more on post-submission workflows and potential digital preservation for a variety of document types. The DAEDALUS Project at the University of Glasgow has provided us with a round-up of initial experiences with DSpace and another open-source institutional repository package called EPrints.org and notes that: ‘They have much in common and the choice of which, or both, or neither, will hinge on a range of local factors‘. This study in part then considers whether one of these popular institutional repository software packages is better for E-theses than software written specifically for the job or not. This comparison will look at some of the common elements between these packages and draw conclusions on which is the best in each field. In addition, it will look at how difficult it will be to modify each of the packages to provide an E-theses service for the UK. This analysis will be considered alongside the medium-term future of each of the packages as they are developed as well as the scope for expansion that each package has within the library and also the university itself. We will spend most time considering elements particularly relevant to E-Theses such as the metadata elements and submission flow, as well as essential areas such as security and administration.