New: DOI minting for PhD theses

We are pleased to announce that from January 2020 all new PhD theses submitted to the Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA) will be assigned a Digital Object Identifier (DOI). The Library will be using the DataCite DOI registration agency to provide this service.

What is a DOI?

A DOI is a character string (a ‘digital identifier’) used to uniquely identify and provide a permanent link to a digital object, such as a journal paper or other scholarly work.

Benefits of having a DOI

Assigning DOIs to PhD means that researchers are able to confidently cite theses alongside traditional journal articles knowing that a link will be persistent. The benefits for authors include gaining due academic credit for their efforts to produce these valuable research outputs and the ability to track and measure online attention via alternative metrics like Plum X or Altmetric.

Which PhD theses will get DOIs?

In the first instance the Library will give all new PhD theses a DOI once the final version has been submitted to Pure and graduation has occurred. Before a DOI is registered the PhD thesis must be archived fully in ERA. Some PhD theses submitted for Winter 2019 graduation which have not yet appeared online in ERA will be assigned a DOI.

We aim to roll out and assign DOIs for all of the PhDs in the existing online collection, but since the collection is large (>20,000) we will have to approach this in stages.


How to be Popular (in Edinburgh Research Explorer)

Edinburgh Research Explorer •

These are conclusions from a survey of the Top 100 MOST POPULAR downloads from Edinburgh Research Explorer in August 2019, it contains some VERY obvious biases and doesn’t reflect the breadth, depth, or usefulness of the repository as a whole; and shows that whilst OPEN ACCESS can reach a wider audience, it can also be ignored by a wider audience.


Top 100 downloads in Edinburgh Research Explorer by school: science and Non-science
Fig i. Top 100 downloads in Edinburgh Research Explorer by school: science and non-science

Research items from science-related schools made up 18% of the Top 100, dropping to 12% in the Top 50 and 0% in the Top 10.


Edinburgh Research Explorer: Downloads (x) vs. No. of authors (y)
Fig ii. Edinburgh Research Explorer: Downloads (x) vs. No. of authors (y)

With each additional author, the number of items and the average number of downloads decreased.


In the Top 100, one item was written in Italian, the remainder in English:
that was also one of only five items that month, that failed to find an audience outwith the UK.


8 of the Top 100 items didn’t offer Open-Access Permissions, they averaged 25% fewer downloads than the overall average.

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Beginning of a new ERA

We are pleased to announce that the Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA) has recently had a lot of work done to improve it’s looks, add new functionality and clean up some of our collections data.

For those of you who are not familiar with ERA it is is a digital repository of original research produced at The University of Edinburgh. The repository contains documents written by, or affiliated with, academic authors, or units, based at Edinburgh that have sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by the Library, but which are not controlled by commercial publishers. Holdings include around 27,000 full-text digital doctoral theses, 1,500 masters dissertations, and numerous other project reports, briefing papers and out-of-print materials. In October 2019 we recorded 223,000 visitors to ERA who downloaded 51,984 items.

Details of some of the improvements are listed below:

Software upgrade The DSpace platform was upgraded from version 4.2 to 6.3
Face lift Visual redesign and styling ERA to make it more appealing
DOI allocation New functionality to assign DOIs to deposited items

New domain

New URL =>
Fix subject terms Change scanning metadata information to be stored in dc.relation.ispartof and not dc.subject.

Log-in expiry time Set login expiry time to an hour.

Date-format Go from yyyy-mm-dd to dd-mm-yyyy

UX improvements
Move Edit Item button up, to the top of the bar, customise drop down list to have most used elements at the top.

Default language boxes Give “en” as default to language boxes.

Of all the new improvements I am most excited about the new functionality to assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to items deposited in ERA. All new items will be automatically assigned a DOI, and we will investigate how to do this for the rest of the nearly 35,000 items already online.

Three Decades @ the Crossroads of IP, ICT and Law conference

At the beginning of the month, the Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP), part of the Faculty of Law of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium, celebrated 30 years of existence. Although their newsletters are only occasionally in English, I have been following their activity for a few years now and I was impressed of their expertise in the areas of data privacy, information rights management and intellectual property rights.

One aspect that I really appreciate at all these conferences organised in Belgium (or nearby) is the wide range of participants: postgraduate students and academic researchers, lawyers from law firms, magistrates from national courts, representatives from industry (Microsoft, Google, Facebook etc), from organisations representing the rights of authors and publishers, from national governments and various EU bodies. These participants come from an area that is within a 2-3 hours train journey from Brussels – this means Benelux, western Germany and northern France. Personally, I find the diverse background of participants and the cultural differences fascinating.

The programme of the conference was really packed with three key-speakers (morning, lunchtime and late afternoon) intertwined with two parallel sessions of four panels each.

The most interesting presentation amongst the key speakers was that of Karen Yeung (Birmingham Law School) about Regulation and technological innovation: Myths, memes and the marginalisation of law. She encouraged the participants to abandon the romantic infatuation with 21st century technological innovation in favour of a more level-headed, clear-eyed view of public policy and regulation vis-à-vis technological innovation. She (successfully, in my opinion) argued against some of the current myths:

Myth Reality
All innovation is intrinsically ‘good’ Not all innovation is good. Even beneficial innovation may have damaging side effects.
The tech entrepreneur is a moral hero They (usually male and white) take risks with the rights and interests of others.
The equivalence of old v new technology Comparisons must attend to ALL effects, not merely functional performance.
Regulation stifles innovation Regulation also stimulate and accelerate innovation.
The law cannot keep up with the pace with technological innovation Over-simplification – problems arise due to uncertainty in effects and identification of appropriate norms.
The governance of the tech innovation should be left to the markets Markets are undemocratic. Reliance on post litigation is inadequate.

Tech “ethics” will fix any problems

Ethics cannot provide legitimate and effective social protection against impacts of tech innovation.


Her conclusion was that “innovation is not only a technological process, but a profoundly human and socially embedded one” and therefore it is crucially important to bring the law into the heart of discussions about how to govern technological innovation responsibly as it cannot be left to the market. Even if it means swimming against the tide.

The morning parallel sessions were about a) Security, b) AI and GDPR, c) Content moderation and d) Personalised medicine. I choose to attend the one about ‘Content moderation’. The first part of the session was dedicated to ‘Content regulation & illegal and harmful content’ where an interesting debate developed between an in house counsel representing Facebook and everybody else in the room a representative of an NGO active in the fields of intermediary liability and surveillance policies including law enforcement access to data. In the second part of the session, the discussion was centred around ‘Content regulation & copyright’ with Google’s European IP manager, a Leuven IP academic, a representative from an artists’ management organisation and another person from a media company as panel members. The discussion floated around art. 17 (former art. 13) of the European Copyright Directive and its implications on the royalties paid by YouTube to artists and on YouTube copyright policy and so on. Already under pressure from the other speakers and the audience, Google IP manager tried to get some respite with a (misjudged) joke about lawyers which, considering the audience and (cultural) circumstances, just added more gas on his pyre and – surprisingly – I found myself agreeing with one of Disney lawyers, who was sitting next to me.

The afternoon sessions were a) Data markets, b) Smart cities, c) Food and sustainable development goals and d) From paper to bits – the legal development of electronic evidence. I decided to attend the Smart cities session as I presumed that they will talk about face recognition software, smart lampposts etc and I was not disappointed. The speakers talked about SPECTRE project (no relation with the evil organisation from Bond movie, it merely means Smart-city Privacy: Enhancing Collaborative Transparency in the Regulatory Ecosystem) and ‘Googlization of urban infrastructure’ and about Smart Public Spaces.

It was another hugely worthwhile conference, with a great variety of interesting topics relevant for my field but also for my colleagues. Congratulations to CiTiP researchers and collaborators for three decades of work at the forefront of IP, ICT and Law!

KU Leuven: Library (Bibliotheek)