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Finding Dissertation Abstracts Online

Dissertations are those long, book-length works that are very well done PhD level writings on subjects in different disciplines from English, to math, to history, to business degrees, to more narrow degrees such as “computer programming analytics.”

These dissertations are great models for students to use if they themselves are working on a dissertation in a similar area.

School Dissertations

All universities keep copies of their own students dissertations—but the entire world has access to their “abstracts” –the short summaries which you can look up online which tell you what the dissertation is about and it’s major arguments.

So, let’s say you’re looking up an abstract in “Childhood Obesity: A Study of 100 Patients Over Four Years.” Let’s say this student received their doctorate from the University of South Carolina.

Now, if you already go to the University of South Carolina, one copy of this students’ dissertation will be kept, bound in leather at the school and one may be on their internet database as well.

But if you do not go to USC, what you could do is order that dissertation through interlibrary loan and use this students hard work and research into childhood obesity to flesh out your own research project.

Where dissertations come in handy is this

  1. Professors insist that these be full of documented, cited, approved research from quality sources that you could use in your own paper if you are careful to look at their citations closely – to get all the citation information—and if you flip back to their Works Cited area (which is probably quite extensive) to supplement your own works cited.
  2. Students have researched these dissertations extensively and you can get ideas for great sources to flesh out your own book length or thesis level project that you may not have discovered on your own yet.
  3. Professors insist that dissertations are formatted perfectly—without even one mistake in the use of a period. Therefore, these are great models of how to use styles like MLA, APA, and Chicago Style.

Dissertation abstracts by themselves give you only a one paragraph to two paragraph of their project. And this will not be enough for a research level work on your subject. But they will tell you if you need to Inter Library Loan the item through your library reference desk by giving you enough details to know.


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