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Open Access for pioneering print thesis on gravitational waves

25 October 2018

As part of International Open Access Week 2018’s #ThesisThursday Twitter campaign, we would like to highlight a recently digitised Cardiff University thesis from 1991, A prototype system for gravitational wave data analysis, by William Watkins.

Last year, due to the current‘big buzz’ around gravitational waves research, the Univerity’s Physics and Astronomy department wanted this early piece of research into the topic to be freely and easily available.The University had written to Mr Watkins asking him to locate his thesis and arrange to have it digitised and placed on the institutional repository, ORCA.

As with most research theses written prior to the introduction of electronic submission (for more on this, see my previous blog post), this thesis was stored in print form off-campus. Mr Watkins got in touch with the University Library Service for help. The Libraries Team quickly retrieved the thesis from its shelf, sent it to the Graphics team for digitisation, and uploaded it to ORCA, making the full text immediately available worldwide to anyone with an internet connection. The digitised thesis has received multiple downloads.

One of the supervisors of the thesis, Professor Bernard Schutz, states that ‘Watkins’ thesis pioneered the method by which all gravitational wave data is analysed today, but his work was never fully described in journals. With his thesis publicly on record, he can get the recognition he deserves for this work’. Researchers in the school of Physics and Astronomy have played a key role in ‘one of the biggest breakthroughs in physics for the last 100 years’; we are very pleased to be part of making Mr Watkins’ role in this exciting research publicly available.

Guest blogger: Louise Harrington, Cardiff University ORCA Team