Doctoral students churn out sometimes massive volumes of research in the form of their Ph.D. dissertations without further publishing the work. These Ph.D. dissertations contain a wealth of information, particularly because the requirements for completing them lead to very detailed coverage of a particular research question. In some cases, scholars build the foundations of their careers on Ph.D. dissertation research; the underlying arguments, literature review and detailed methodologies may only be referred to in further publications. Finding Ph.D. dissertations to read and follow up on is quite simple, now that most dissertations are submitted and published electronically.
Search using an Internet search engine, such as Google.com. When searching like this for Ph.D. dissertations, include "dissertation" along with key search terms on your subject of interest, a particular author or an institution; you may find a link to the abstract with directions on how to acquire the full text of a dissertation. Refine your search further on the search engine by selecting an academic or research search; on Google, for example, you would select "Google Scholar."
Go to a library with a subscription to ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database to conduct a more targeted search. ProQuest maintains dissertations from more than 700 institutions from as far back as 1861. From the database, you can access the full text of about half of the indexed Ph.D. dissertations, and you will find citations for others. Citations can direct you to the author or institution where the Ph.D. dissertation may be available.
Search directly at the institution of interest. If you know you want a dissertation from a particular school, start your search at that school's library or thesis office website. Schools may refer to their Ph.D. dissertation collection as an institutional repository. Not all schools participate as publishing partners with ProQuest, and even those that do may have older or more obscure Ph.D. dissertations available.
Contact the author directly. If you have a citation for a Ph.D. dissertation that is of interest to you, call or send a note to the author. Many authors of Ph.D. dissertations go on to work in academia, where their contact information is provided to the public through the institution. If you cannot find the author's contact information, seek out an expert in your field of interest. Someone who is passionate about an area of science may be willing to help you find dissertations in that field.
Jae Chapman is a sustainability enthusiast who has been writing since 2006. She writes for various websites with a focus on the environment, food, fitness, computer software and other practical topics. She holds a Master of Science in engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.