In my previous blog post, to mark Open Access Week, I reflected on my experience as a new member of Scholarly Communications. This month I’d like to focus on an exciting part of UAL Research Online – the 250 plus full text, downloadable, PhD theses online in UALRO. Dating back to 1997 and up to the present day, covering a myriad of art and design research interests; it is an amazing resource for staff and students, which I didn’t know the full scope of, until I started working within Scholarly Communications.

We offer all UAL postgraduates the chance to make their theses available online in UALRO. This benefits postgraduates by making their theses visible in every search engine, so people all over the world will be able to find their research. Once on UALRO the thesis is added to the British Library collection and made available through Europeana. Having work that is easy to find and on prestigious portals raises our researchers’ scholarly profile. Not only that, this service is free of charge and their work will be hosted on UALRO indefinitely. When postgraduates make their theses open access it means that high quality research is open to enquiring minds worldwide. It is a rich resource that I would encourage library staff to direct library users to, should they need to look at thesis structure, specialist art and design research and to get a broad picture of the postgraduate research being produced at UAL. Explore the theses collection here.

When processing PhD manuscripts to put online we need to consider copyright with regards to the images and information that it contains. Privacy of personal data and permission to share it is also a concern. In these cases we make the item restricted access, and you will see a note on the record asking interested visitors to contact us for more details. We usually grant access to staff or students who have contacted us with a request to view the full text PhD, as long as they confirm that their use will be of a single copy for private research and study only. There is more information about theses and Open Access at UAL, mainly directed at thesis authors, here.

I’d like to highlight a few theses in our collection that demonstrate the diverse and intellectually rigorous research of our postgraduates across UAL. UALRO has a great deal of practice based research outputs and this extends to some of our theses, which include video, audio or visual components to their research outputs.

The Feral, the Art Object and the Social by Lana Locke

“This practice-based research explores the nature of the feral, as manifested in an object-based installation practice of contemporary art that scavenges – physically, socially and metaphorically – in the gap between defined spaces. My conception of the feral draws out the political promise of this indeterminacy: the state of being partly wild and partly civilised. The page is also constructed materially, as a space where heterogeneous elements meet: different voices expressed through the writing and images of my practice.” 

Deep Listening: The Strategic Practice of Female Experimental Composers post 1945 by Louise Catherine Antonia Marshall 

“New developments in music technology, alongside a more porous understanding of the nature of sound and its performance, have opened experimental and contemporary music to many new expressions since 1945. It might therefore be expected that the revolutionary compositional ingenuity demonstrated by many of female composers shaping this new transmission of music-making would by now be carefully documented in the historiography. Yet this has not been the case, and their absence is symptomatic of a still active antipathy to women entering and participating in professional and artistic arenas that remain structured in gender terms.”

Resituating the Cultural Meanings of Lucha Libre Mexicana: A Practice-Based Exploration of Diasporic Mexicanness by Marcela Montoya Ortega

“The various aspects of Lucha Libre Mexicana such as the masks, the holds, the wrestlers themselves, and the performative nature of the spectacle, serve as referents to make connections to the artist’s own culture and the idea of constructed Mexicanness. This study includes a number of practice-based inquiries that are the result of the analysis and reflection on Lucha Libre and diasporic Mexicanness. The study reveals the manner by which creative processes including thinking in materials enable the artist scholar to acquire knowledge and thematic understanding.”

We are very proud of our theses collection. Theses are our most popular research outputs in the collection, as seen in the figures below: in 2018 alone our theses have been downloaded over 35,000 times

Graph to show number of theses downloads

Justyna Burzynska
Scholarly Communications Assistant