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Dissertations and Theses: How to Find

General Information

a long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a college degree

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

Theses are specialized and may only be useful if you are doing in-depth research, such as for an honors thesis or independent study, or the topic is very new and not much has been published on it.

Factors to consider:

  • Currency - how old is it? might the author have published more recent information?
  • Availability - non-US theses are harder to find; masters theses are very difficult to obtain
  • Language - what language was it published in?

Sample Database Citations

Indication for a thesis is often buried in the reference.

Martin, A. P. (2009). Mt. Morning, Antarctica; geochemistry, geochronology, petrology, volcanology, and oxygen fugacity of the rifted Antarctic lithosphere.  413 p.
Degree Granting Institution: University of Otago: Dunedin, New Zealand; Doctoral

Cole, S. J. (2015). Essays on Unconventional Monetary Policies.
Publisher Information: University of California, Irvine
Publication Type: Dissertation
Degree: Ph.D.

International Bibliography of Art
Roussinova, Roussina. The Art of Pleasing the Eye : Portraits by Nicolas De Largillierre and Spectatorship with Taste for Colour in the Early Eighteenth Century. 2015.
Publisher: Department of Culture and Aesthetics; Stockholm University
Document type: Dissertation Or Thesis

Ivins-Hulley, Laura. Cinema As Surrealist Tool: The Films Of Jan Svankmajer. 350 p.
Indiana U, 2015 
Publication Type: dissertation abstract

Daye, E. C. (2016). Correlations between childhood obesity and obesogenic environmental variables within Durham county, North Carolina.
Document Type: Dissertation [no indication of institution]



Where to Find?

Compilations of theses:

Usually dissertations are available only at the degree-granting institution. Some institutions post dissertations freely online through their digital repository (linked through the library).

What Else Can I Try?

You may be able to find the dissertation published as the author's first book (often with 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 findings published as articles, search for the author in one of our journal article databases covering the subject area.

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