June 2010 No.73  
   In this issue

Online boost for Islamic Studies


Researchers and librarians working in Islamic Studies will now for the first time have online access to nearly 1,000 Ph.D. theses in the subject, spanning over ten years. JISC, The Academy and The British Library have combined their resources to bring together Islamic Studies theses from universities across the UK and Ireland.

Up until now this wealth of knowledge has been dispersed across 97 universities and has only been accessible through individual academic libraries and archives. The collection represents nearly half of the 2,000 Islamic Studies Ph.Ds written between 1997 and 2006.

This diverse collection, which has been put online by the British Library via its EThOS electronic theses service, covers fields such as Islamic law, history, politics, finance, anthropology, sociology and gender studies. There are also theses which examine Muslim communities in the UK.

Alastair Dunning, JISC digitisation manager, says: "The immediate availability of nearly 1,000 UK Ph.D. theses online not only provides added exposure to a significant body of scholarship in all branches of Islamic Studies, but helps bring the work of many early-career researchers to a wider audience."

The scanning process took seven months from start to finish and the resulting theses are available for free and immediate download for those working in education and research.

Dr Joanna Newman, the British Library’s Head of Higher Education, said: “Since the beta version of Ethos was launched two years ago, we have seen demand for theses increase tenfold – a vivid demonstration of the value of digitisation in making collections more visible and available. The doctoral theses made available through this project constitute a rich resource as well as illuminating the quality and diversity of the work that’s currently being done by UK researchers in this area. The British Library’s collections of Arabic and Islamic material are among the largest in Europe and North America. This project helps the Library achieve its ambition to develop a digital corpus of material to enrich knowledge and uncover the history and culture of Islam through the ages in science, medicine, arts and humanities and social sciences.”

Lisa Bernasek, Higher Education Academy Academic Coordinator for the Islamic Studies Network, said: “Digitisation of resources, including PhD theses, is seen as a priority area for those involved in our Islamic Studies Network. This valuable collection will help meet this need and will enable scholars to access the latest research in the field.”

Putting these resources online supports the Government’s drive to develop Islamic Studies as a strategically important subject which includes providing access to a range of Islamic resources. Other resources to be digitised include manuscripts, catalogues and dictionaries, thus providing further crucial tools for those working within Islamic studies. To find out more about accessing these theses online, visit here.

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