The SURFfoundation has released A Portal for Doctoral E-Theses in Europe: Lessons Learned from a Demonstrator Project by M. P. J. P. Vanderfeesten. The portal project was funded by JISC, the National Library of Sweden, and the SURFfoundation. The SURFfoundation ran the project.
Here’s an excerpt from the "Management Summary":
For the first time various repositories with doctoral e-theses have been harvested on an international scale. This report describes a small pilot project which tested the interoperability of repositories for e-theses and has set up a freely accessible European portal with over 10,000 doctoral e-theses.
Five repositories from five different countries in Europe were involved: Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) was the common protocol used to test the interoperability. Based upon earlier experiences and developed tools (harvester, search engine) of the national DAREnet service in the Netherlands, SURFfoundation could establish a prototype for this European e-theses Demonstrator relatively fast and simple.
Nevertheless, some critical issues and problems occurred. They can be categorised into the following topics:
a) Generic issues related to repositories: the language used in the metadata fields differs per repository. . . . Furthermore, the quality of the data presented differs.. . . A further issue is the semantic and syntactic differences in metadata between repositories, which means that the format and content of the information exchange requests are not unambiguously defined. . . .
b) E-theses specific issues: to be able to harvest doctoral theses, the service provider needs to be able to filter on this document type. Up to now there is no commonly agreed format, which makes semantic interoperability possible [specific Dublin core recommendations omitted]. . . .
c) Issues related to data providers and service providers: besides the use of the OAI-protocol for metadata harvesting and the use of Dublin Core it is recommended for data providers to further standardise on the semantic interoperability by using the DRIVER guidelines with an addition of the e-Theses specific recommendations described above. To be able to offer more than basic services for e-Theses, one has to change the metadata format from simple Dublin Core to a richer and e-Theses specific one. . . . We needed to fix, normalise and crosswalk the differences between every repository to get a standard syntactic and semantic metadata structure. . . . The scaling up is a big issue. To stimulate the broad take up of various services, data providers have to work on implementing standards that create interoperability on syntactic and semantic levels.
d) Cultural and educational differences: In every country the educational processes are different. . . . Not only the graduation and publication process differs, but also the duration of the research process. Therefore the quality of the results in a cross-European search of doctoral theses may vary enormously.
(Thanks to Open Access News.)