Finding dissertations is a two step process. First, you must find the citations to the dissertations you desire. Second, you must determine if the dissertation is available to read.
There are some things to consider when dealing with dissertations:
- Dissertations are considered unpublished materials. They are not published by commerical publishers but rather are only available at the institutions where they are written.
- If the dissertation is available in multiple libraries, it is bacause the libraries purchased copies of the dissertation from United Microfilms International (UMI), which sells dissertations.
- Because dissertations are not published and copies are not widely available, borrowing dissertations through Interlibrary Loan (while possible) has a higher percentage of being unfilled than published items.
- Because dissertations are not commercially published, some libraries tend to keep their copies non-circulating (library use only).
- Dissertations from some online universities cannot be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan since (as an online school) they do not have a physical library.
- There is a growing amount of dissertations that are available in full text online (via university digital collection) but not all dissertations are available for free online.
- If you are unable to get the dissertation online or through Interlibrary Loan, the last resort is to purchase it through ProQuest Dissertation Express.
This guide will introduce you to the databases and search engines available to locate dissertation citations and possible sources of full text dissertations.
Steven Wise, MA, MLIS