Electronic Theses and Dissertations Programmes in the Arab Gulf States: Exploring factors affecting their adoption and development
An increasing number of academic institutions all over the world have begun to adopt and develop electronic theses and dissertations (ETD) programmes. The adoption and development of these programmes is influenced by many factors. Despite considerable discussion on these factors in different countries, little has been written on the adoption and development of such programmes in the Arab Gulf States. Moreover, there has been no in-depth research-based investigation into the enablers and barriers that may have an impact on the adoption and development of ETD programmes in the Gulf States. Using a sequential exploratory design and mixed methods, this study attempts to fill this knowledge gap. The study explores the perceived enablers and barriers influencing the adoption and development of ETD programmes in the Arab Gulf States. It also develops a framework that outlines the factors influencing the adoption and development of ETD programmes in the Gulf States. The study is primarily qualitative, using semi-structured, face-to-face interviews in conjunction with the analysis of relevant documents to identify, develop an understanding of, and create a picture of the situation in the Gulf States in terms of the factors affecting the adoption and development of ETD programmes. The interviews cover the key stakeholders, which include postgraduate students, library managers, system administrators, postgraduate officers and academic staff. Forty-five participants from five universities in the Gulf States were interviewed. The results of the interviews provided the necessary information to undertake the second phase of the study (online survey). The primary aim of this was to test and explore, in a larger sample, the issues identified in the interviews. Three hundred and nine participants from four universities in the Gulf States completed the online survey. The results of the survey helped to confirm and complement the findings of the interviews. The research findings revealed that several factors were perceived to affect the adoption and development of ETD programmes in the Gulf States. These included the appreciation of the benefits of ETD programmes, the availability of the required resources to support ETD programmes, the perceived complexity of the technological processes as well as a number of social factors. An initial framework for analysis was developed using concepts from the literature review combined with the constructs of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT). The initial framework highlighted several enablers and barriers to the adoption and development of ETD programmes. Based on the research findings, further enablers and barriers emerged that had not been outlined in the preliminary research framework. These included concerns surrounding the perceived quality and quantity of theses and dissertations, which were perceived due to the newness of research programmes in the Gulf States. ETD programmes were perceived as increasing the currently limited availability of Arabic research on the internet. Moreover, as these states have strong economies, academic institutions were mostly equipped with the required technological infrastructure. In addition, the initial framework did not highlight any kind of influence between the five factors. However, the current research findings revealed that these five factors were interdependent and that some factors have an influence on the others. This is reflected in the revised framework. The preliminary framework also did not indicate which factor was the most influential, while the revised framework shows that the contextual factors were found to be influencing the institutional factors and this, in turn, influenced the personal perceptions. The revised framework is intended to provide guidance for universities and academic institutions in the Gulf States in adopting and developing ETD programmes. It is also hoped that by understanding the influencing factors, universities and academic institutions will be better placed to plan for and make informed investment decisions regarding the adoption and development of ETD programmes and that this will lead to their successful adoption and development in the Gulf States.