Graduates, staff, and alumni of the University can now deposit their theses in the University’s ‘institutional repository’, DSpace@Cambridge, where it will be digitally archived and made available online. More information at Deposit of electronic theses.
This may mean very little to you! In brief, most higher educational establishments now have an institutional repository (IR) which can act as an electronic ‘showcase’ of their research output as well as being a safe long-term curated storage facility. Also, many research funders (for example, all seven members of Research Councils UK) now require that all final peer reviewed research reports are available ‘open access’ (freely available online to anyone). This can most effectively be achieved by ‘self-archiving’ a copy in your IR which will ensure the report is exposed to web search engine ‘crawlers’ and that it includes the correct level of metadata. The open access element is additional to, and does not affect, the traditional publication of the research in a peer reviewed journal.
DSpace@Cambridge is the name given to ourIR (‘DSpace’ is actually the name of the software that runs it). It says: “The repository was established in 2003 to facilitate the deposit of digital content of a scholarly or heritage nature, allowing academics and their departments at the University to share and preserve this content in a managed environment”. If you browse the site you can see that there is already some stuff in there. But the main criticism of many IRs is that, so far, compared to the output, comparatively little material has been deposited in them.
Physics students may well be familiar with arXiv.org, a ‘central repository’ not linked to any particular institution (although now run by Cornell University), in which over half a million research papers have been deposited over many years. It was, admittedly, established much longer ago to serve researchers in a fast-moving field where traditional print publication finds it harder to keep up with events. But it is hoped that emerging individual IRs will achieve the same level of patronage in the future.