(Other People’s) Dissertations: A Great Research Tool

Students starting to work on literature reviews for their own dissertations regularly come to me asking for help in finding some other dissertations to read. Looking at other dissertations can help you get a sense of what approaches and topics are “hot” in your field, provide samples of how other scholars applied the methodologies or assessment tools you plan to use, and even point you in the direction of some of the scholarship that you don’t want to miss. (Remember, virtually all of those dissertations and doctoral projects include literature reviews too!)

There are several ways to find dissertations to help in your research. On simple way to look for Alliant dissertation is to search in the library catalog. Enter a search term (a topic, a methodology, even the author’s name) in the Encore search box on the homepage and then use the Facets (or Limiters) on the left-hand side of the results page to narrow down to Format: Thesis. Many of these can be viewed online, others can be requested and sent to your home campus library for checkout.

Another option for Alliant scholarship? Click on Alliant Theses/Dissertations from the library homepage. This allows you to search by committee member, methodology, or even the statistical analyses or assessment tools used. Just like in the above option, many dissertations are available online, and others can be requested and sent to your campus.

Want more? Don’t forget about ProQuest’s Dissertations and Theses database in our list of databases. Here you can find tens of thousands of dissertations and theses, virtually every one published in the United States since 1997 plus many older and some international ones. You can search by keyword just as you would in article databases, or narrow down by institution, subject, and more. For more search tips, check out our guide.

Dissertation writers regularly report back that looking at other dissertations kickstarted their research, or helped when they hit a dead-end. You may have similar luck!

(And of course, once you get going on your own dissertation, check out our Dissertation Clearance guide for formatting and clearance info.)


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