Research Article

Hidden Treasures: Opening Data in PhD Dissertations in Social Sciences and Humanities

  • Hélène Prost (INIST (CNRS))
  • Cécile Malleret (University of Lille 3)
  • Joachim Schöpfel orcid logo (University of Lille 3)


PURPOSE The paper provides empirical evidence on research data submitted together with PhD dissertations in social sciences and humanities. APPROACH We conducted a survey on nearly 300 print and electronic dissertations in social sciences and humanities from the University of Lille 3 (France), submitted between 1987 and 2013. FINDINGS After a short overview on open access to electronic dissertations, on small data in dissertations, on data management and curation, and on the challenge for academic libraries, the paper presents the results of the survey. Special attention is paid to the size of the research data in appendices, to their presentation and link to the text, to their sources and typology, and to their potential for further research. Methodological shortfalls of the study are discussed, and barriers to open data (metadata, structure, format) and legal questions (privacy, third-party rights) are addressed. The conclusion provides some recommendations for the assistance and advice to PhD students in managing and depositing their research data. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS Our survey can be helpful for academic libraries to develop assistance and advice for PhD students in managing their research data in collaboration with the research structures and the graduate schools. ORIGINALITY There is a growing body of research papers on data management and curation. Produced along with PhD dissertations, little is known about the characteristics of this material, in particular in social sciences and humanities and the impact on the role of academic libraries.

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How to Cite:

Prost, H., Malleret, C. & Schöpfel, J., (2015) “Hidden Treasures: Opening Data in PhD Dissertations in Social Sciences and Humanities”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 3(2), eP1230. doi:

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Published on
22 Sep 2015
Peer Reviewed