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Locating Dissertations and Theses

Use this guide to locate dissertations and theses, including those published by Ferris graduates.


In addition to books and journal articles, dissertations and theses may prove very helpful to graduates for a number of reasons.

  1. The content of the study might be an important piece of information to include in your literature review. (Plus, you want to make certain that nobody has scooped your idea!)
  2. If the content of the study is related to your topic, mine the dissertation's literature review for even more sources.
  3. If the methodology of the dissertation or thesis is similar to your study, you can see how the dissertation may help you with your own methodology.
  4. If your dissertation or thesis advisor has already advised past students with their dissertations or theses, you might want to take a peek to see what you are getting yourself into.

Finding and Getting Dissertations and Theses

All in all, dissertations and theses are great sources to use when you are writing one yourself. They are not as easy to come by as books and articles, however. When a student completes his or her dissertation only a few copies (if any) are bound. Usually, one of these bound copies is available at the student's university library or online institutional repository.

In addition, the student may submit a full-text copy of the dissertation or thesis to ProQuest for inclusion in the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. This is a subscription database and is not available to the general public.

Most of the entries in the database only include the first 20+ pages of the dissertation or thesis. 

Ferris does not have the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database at FLITE.

If you need access to a dissertation or thesis, FLITE will try to interlibary loan the bound copy from the degree-granting university's library. There is no guarantee that this will be possible. FLITE librarians can also assist you by looking for the dissertation in the degree-granting institution's online institutional repository. 

So What to Do?

So what IS the best way to locate dissertations and theses for research purposes?

The recommended approach is kind of philosophical! It goes back to the age-old question of "why"? Why do you need to find a dissertation or thesis? The answer to this question will determine the best way to proceed.


Thanks to Jacqueline C. Klentzin, Outreach and and Information Literacy Librarian at Robert Morris University, for graciously allowing me to modify information she created for a literature review workshop for this guide to share with Ferris State University's faculty, staff, and students.