This post about open access grad student theses is a worthwhile read for grad students and bosses: The dissertations that get away (& where they end up, and why). It makes specific note of the company ProQuest, which does a lot of thesis publishing and has an “open access” option, and the newer FigShare, a cloud-based open access publishing service.
Here’s an interesting bit from a student, who Gail Clement – manager of the Free US Electronic Theses and Disseratations blog – had some correspondence with:
With some hesitation at the cost of $95, I did pay the “Open Access Publishing PLUS” fee upon filing my dissertation, so it comes as something of a surprise to learn that my dissertation does not appear in the ProQuest database.
I know that I’ve often found students’ Masters and PhD thesis to be more helpful in my work than published journal articles. They tend to be much more thorough about experimental setups, what the relevant background is, and all sorts of other details. And I know tracking them down can be tough. When I find one that seems interesting (which itself is not as simple as I’d like), more often than not I need to get the university library to track it down, and the thesis ends up on my desk pretty shortly after. Who knows what magic they use, but being able to easily find a thesis online instead of just a dusty advisor’s bookshelf would be fantastic.