Skip to Main Content

Research Guides@Tufts

Dissertations and Theses

Resources for finding and writing theses & dissertations at Tufts

Dissertations and Theses as a Research Tool

Theses and dissertations are an often overlooked source of information for research.  They can offer the following benefits:

  • Just like journal articles, conference proceedings, and other forms of literature, they present original research. Recently completed theses can provide "sneak previews" of ideas and findings that have yet to reach the public via other publication formats.
  • They may be the only publicly-available work by authors who do not otherwise publish for general audiences or through commercial publishers.
  • They contain extensive bibliographies.
  • They provide inspiration for the formatting and presentation of ideas, graphs, charts, and other components of a document.
  • They provide insight into the early work of a particular person and have value for historical and biographical purposes.

Obtaining Dissertations

Want to borrow a dissertation that is not available in full text online? Request it via ILLIAD, Tufts' interlibrary loan service using the ILLIAD Dissertations Request Form. Provide as much descriptive information as you can.

Want your own copy? Use the Dissertations & Theses: Full Text database to order, at your own expense, documents in a range of formats.

Trying to find copies of older dissertations?

  • If you can identify the author's institutional affiliation, visit that institution's webpage to see if they catalog or archive students' dissertations. 

  • Contact the author.  Some authors will post all or some of their dissertation on their website or have journal articles or other publications which draw heavily on this work.

  • Search the author's name and/or thesis title in full-text journal databases which include article references. These citations may provide clues as to how to locate the document.

  • Contact your subject librarian for assistance.

Note: The availability of a dissertation may depend on whether the author has authorized its distribution.

Citing Dissertations and Theses

As with journal articles, books, and other sources, theses and dissertations must be properly cited in any document that references them.  Most citation styles, including APA, Chicago, and MLA, provide specific instructions for formatting these citations.  Citation Management tools, such as EndNote and Zotero, automatically format references for these sources in your selected citation style.  More information is in the Citing Sources guide.

Although requirements for citing dissertations vary according by style, they generally seek to convey the following information:  that the item is a dissertation (rather than an article or a book); the type of degree it resulted in (master's, PhD, etc); whether it was published; and which institution granted the degree.  An example of a citation for a dissertation is presented here in four major citation styles:

  • APA:  Miaoulis, I. N. (1987). Experimental investigation of turbulence spectra of charge density fluctuations in the equilibrium range. Unpublished Ph.D., Tufts University, United States -- Massachusetts.
  • Chicago:  Miaoulis, Ioannis Nikolaos. "Experimental Investigation of Turbulence Spectra of Charge Density Fluctuations in the Equilibrium Range." Ph.D., Tufts University, 1987.
  • IEEE:  [1]    I. N. Miaoulis, "Experimental investigation of turbulence spectra of charge density fluctuations in the equilibrium range,"  United States -- Massachusetts: Tufts University, 1987, p. 98.
  • MLA:  Miaoulis, Ioannis Nikolaos. "Experimental Investigation of Turbulence Spectra of Charge Density Fluctuations in the Equilibrium Range." Ph.D. Tufts University, 1987.

Databases focusing on Dissertations and Theses

The following sources focus primarily or exclusively on theses and dissertations; some provide direct access to full-text.

General Sources Indexing Dissertations and Theses

The following sources index theses and dissertations alongside other sources. Many enable searching or filtering on documents with theses and/or dissertations as the document type.

Subject-specific Sources Indexing Dissertations and Theses

In the following databases, the Advance Search option enables filtering by dissertation as the document type.

Print Dissertation Indexes and Bibliographies

A number of indexes and bibliographies of dissertations have been published, primarily in print format.  These often focus on specific historical eras, geographic regions, or topics.