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How To Find Dissertations

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation is "a lengthy, formal written treatise or thesis, especially an account of scholarly investigation or original research on a specialized topic, submitted to a university in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Ph.D. degree." ¹

How can I determine if a dissertation is useful for my research?

Because dissertations are very specialized, they usually are not appropriate for undergraduate level research projects unless you are doing very in-depth research, such as for a thesis or independent study, or the topic is very new and not much has been published on it.

To evaluate whether the dissertation would be useful, read the abstract in Dissertations and Theses (Global).

How can I get the full text of the dissertation?

Start by searching Dissertations and Theses (Global), a library database providing access to the world's most comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses.

If the dissertation you need is not available in Dissertations and Theses, you will need to borrow it from another library. Usually, dissertations are available only at the institution that granted the author's degree. Sometimes the author submits multiple copies of the dissertation, and the library will have a circulating copy it can lend. Some institutions also post dissertations freely online.

Search strategies to locate dissertations not included in Dissertations and Theses

If the dissertation is not available here, through NExpress or BLC, or digitized, use the dissertation form in ILLiad to request through interlibrary loan.

What should I do if I don't have time to borrow the dissertation or it is not available for borrowing?

You may be able to find the dissertation published as the author's first book (it usually has a similar title) or selected chapters published as articles.

  • To find a dissertation published as a book, search for the author in WorldCat
  • To find dissertation chapters published as articles, search for the author in an article database covering the subject area.

If we are not able to borrow the dissertation and it has not been published in other formats, we may be able to purchase it (usually only for thesis students or others doing in-depth research).