Posted in Research Help

Research Tip: Finding Dissertations

Tonight at the reference desk two students from completely different classes stopped by for help locating a dissertation.  These can be difficult documents to obtain.  Here are some sources to check to find the full-text of a dissertation.

1. Dissertations Abstracts

Check Dissertation Abstracts (also known as Proquest Dissertation & Theses) to see if a full text copy is available. The following are two citations in Dissertation Abstracts.  Notice the second one has a free PDF copy.

2. Google Scholar and Worldcat

Search Google Scholar or Worldcat.  Occasionally these resources will link you to a full text copy.

3. Institutional Theses Database

If the dissertation was published in the last 10 years, try to see if the institution that published the dissertations has a database of dissertations and theses.  A Google search of the institution’s name and the word Theses will usually locate whether an institutional specific theses and dissertation database exists.

4. Books & Articles by Same Author

If the dissertation was published more than 10 years ago, you can still try the tactic above but you may want to try searching for more information about the author of the dissertation.  The author may have published articles and even a book on the same topic.  Worldcat is best for locating books the author may have published since completing the dissertation.  See the Databases by Subject list to find a database that may contain additional articles by your author.

Example: Dr. Kennedy wrote her dissertation on education in southern Germany between 1871-1914. It is not accessible online, but here are some articles she wrote that follow up on this topic:

If you still need help, stop by the reference desk, send us an email (, or use the chat widget to talk with a library staff member.  Good luck!




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