Grad Coach

How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis

8 straightforward steps to craft an a-grade dissertation.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Expert Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020

Writing a dissertation or thesis is not a simple task. It takes time, energy and a lot of will power to get you across the finish line. It’s not easy – but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a painful process. If you understand the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis, your research journey will be a lot smoother.  

In this post, I’m going to outline the big-picture process of how to write a high-quality dissertation or thesis, without losing your mind along the way. If you’re just starting your research, this post is perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’ve already submitted your proposal, this article which covers how to structure a dissertation might be more helpful.

How To Write A Dissertation: 8 Steps

  • Clearly understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is
  • Find a unique and valuable research topic
  • Craft a convincing research proposal
  • Write up a strong introduction chapter
  • Review the existing literature and compile a literature review
  • Design a rigorous research strategy and undertake your own research
  • Present the findings of your research
  • Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications

Start writing your dissertation

Step 1: Understand exactly what a dissertation is

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often, students come to us for help with their research and the underlying issue is that they don’t fully understand what a dissertation (or thesis) actually is.

So, what is a dissertation?

At its simplest, a dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research , reflecting the standard research process . But what is the standard research process, you ask? The research process involves 4 key steps:

  • Ask a very specific, well-articulated question (s) (your research topic)
  • See what other researchers have said about it (if they’ve already answered it)
  • If they haven’t answered it adequately, undertake your own data collection and analysis in a scientifically rigorous fashion
  • Answer your original question(s), based on your analysis findings

 A dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research, reflecting the standard four step academic research process.

In short, the research process is simply about asking and answering questions in a systematic fashion . This probably sounds pretty obvious, but people often think they’ve done “research”, when in fact what they have done is:

  • Started with a vague, poorly articulated question
  • Not taken the time to see what research has already been done regarding the question
  • Collected data and opinions that support their gut and undertaken a flimsy analysis
  • Drawn a shaky conclusion, based on that analysis

If you want to see the perfect example of this in action, look out for the next Facebook post where someone claims they’ve done “research”… All too often, people consider reading a few blog posts to constitute research. Its no surprise then that what they end up with is an opinion piece, not research. Okay, okay – I’ll climb off my soapbox now.

The key takeaway here is that a dissertation (or thesis) is a formal piece of research, reflecting the research process. It’s not an opinion piece , nor a place to push your agenda or try to convince someone of your position. Writing a good dissertation involves asking a question and taking a systematic, rigorous approach to answering it.

If you understand this and are comfortable leaving your opinions or preconceived ideas at the door, you’re already off to a good start!

 A dissertation is not an opinion piece, nor a place to push your agenda or try to  convince someone of your position.

Step 2: Find a unique, valuable research topic

As we saw, the first step of the research process is to ask a specific, well-articulated question. In other words, you need to find a research topic that asks a specific question or set of questions (these are called research questions ). Sounds easy enough, right? All you’ve got to do is identify a question or two and you’ve got a winning research topic. Well, not quite…

A good dissertation or thesis topic has a few important attributes. Specifically, a solid research topic should be:

Let’s take a closer look at these:

Attribute #1: Clear

Your research topic needs to be crystal clear about what you’re planning to research, what you want to know, and within what context. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity or vagueness about what you’ll research.

Here’s an example of a clearly articulated research topic:

An analysis of consumer-based factors influencing organisational trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms.

As you can see in the example, its crystal clear what will be analysed (factors impacting organisational trust), amongst who (consumers) and in what context (British low-cost equity brokerage firms, based online).

Need a helping hand?

thesis on dissertations

Attribute #2:   Unique

Your research should be asking a question(s) that hasn’t been asked before, or that hasn’t been asked in a specific context (for example, in a specific country or industry).

For example, sticking organisational trust topic above, it’s quite likely that organisational trust factors in the UK have been investigated before, but the context (online low-cost equity brokerages) could make this research unique. Therefore, the context makes this research original.

One caveat when using context as the basis for originality – you need to have a good reason to suspect that your findings in this context might be different from the existing research – otherwise, there’s no reason to warrant researching it.

Attribute #3: Important

Simply asking a unique or original question is not enough – the question needs to create value. In other words, successfully answering your research questions should provide some value to the field of research or the industry. You can’t research something just to satisfy your curiosity. It needs to make some form of contribution either to research or industry.

For example, researching the factors influencing consumer trust would create value by enabling businesses to tailor their operations and marketing to leverage factors that promote trust. In other words, it would have a clear benefit to industry.

So, how do you go about finding a unique and valuable research topic? We explain that in detail in this video post – How To Find A Research Topic . Yeah, we’ve got you covered 😊

Step 3: Write a convincing research proposal

Once you’ve pinned down a high-quality research topic, the next step is to convince your university to let you research it. No matter how awesome you think your topic is, it still needs to get the rubber stamp before you can move forward with your research. The research proposal is the tool you’ll use for this job.

So, what’s in a research proposal?

The main “job” of a research proposal is to convince your university, advisor or committee that your research topic is worthy of approval. But convince them of what? Well, this varies from university to university, but generally, they want to see that:

  • You have a clearly articulated, unique and important topic (this might sound familiar…)
  • You’ve done some initial reading of the existing literature relevant to your topic (i.e. a literature review)
  • You have a provisional plan in terms of how you will collect data and analyse it (i.e. a methodology)

At the proposal stage, it’s (generally) not expected that you’ve extensively reviewed the existing literature , but you will need to show that you’ve done enough reading to identify a clear gap for original (unique) research. Similarly, they generally don’t expect that you have a rock-solid research methodology mapped out, but you should have an idea of whether you’ll be undertaking qualitative or quantitative analysis , and how you’ll collect your data (we’ll discuss this in more detail later).

Long story short – don’t stress about having every detail of your research meticulously thought out at the proposal stage – this will develop as you progress through your research. However, you do need to show that you’ve “done your homework” and that your research is worthy of approval .

So, how do you go about crafting a high-quality, convincing proposal? We cover that in detail in this video post – How To Write A Top-Class Research Proposal . We’ve also got a video walkthrough of two proposal examples here .

Step 4: Craft a strong introduction chapter

Once your proposal’s been approved, its time to get writing your actual dissertation or thesis! The good news is that if you put the time into crafting a high-quality proposal, you’ve already got a head start on your first three chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology – as you can use your proposal as the basis for these.

Handy sidenote – our free dissertation & thesis template is a great way to speed up your dissertation writing journey.

What’s the introduction chapter all about?

The purpose of the introduction chapter is to set the scene for your research (dare I say, to introduce it…) so that the reader understands what you’ll be researching and why it’s important. In other words, it covers the same ground as the research proposal in that it justifies your research topic.

What goes into the introduction chapter?

This can vary slightly between universities and degrees, but generally, the introduction chapter will include the following:

  • A brief background to the study, explaining the overall area of research
  • A problem statement , explaining what the problem is with the current state of research (in other words, where the knowledge gap exists)
  • Your research questions – in other words, the specific questions your study will seek to answer (based on the knowledge gap)
  • The significance of your study – in other words, why it’s important and how its findings will be useful in the world

As you can see, this all about explaining the “what” and the “why” of your research (as opposed to the “how”). So, your introduction chapter is basically the salesman of your study, “selling” your research to the first-time reader and (hopefully) getting them interested to read more.

How do I write the introduction chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this post .

The introduction chapter is where you set the scene for your research, detailing exactly what you’ll be researching and why it’s important.

Step 5: Undertake an in-depth literature review

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to do some initial review of the literature in Steps 2 and 3 to find your research gap and craft a convincing research proposal – but that’s just scratching the surface. Once you reach the literature review stage of your dissertation or thesis, you need to dig a lot deeper into the existing research and write up a comprehensive literature review chapter.

What’s the literature review all about?

There are two main stages in the literature review process:

Literature Review Step 1: Reading up

The first stage is for you to deep dive into the existing literature (journal articles, textbook chapters, industry reports, etc) to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state of research regarding your topic. While you don’t need to read every single article, you do need to ensure that you cover all literature that is related to your core research questions, and create a comprehensive catalogue of that literature , which you’ll use in the next step.

Reading and digesting all the relevant literature is a time consuming and intellectually demanding process. Many students underestimate just how much work goes into this step, so make sure that you allocate a good amount of time for this when planning out your research. Thankfully, there are ways to fast track the process – be sure to check out this article covering how to read journal articles quickly .

Dissertation Coaching

Literature Review Step 2: Writing up

Once you’ve worked through the literature and digested it all, you’ll need to write up your literature review chapter. Many students make the mistake of thinking that the literature review chapter is simply a summary of what other researchers have said. While this is partly true, a literature review is much more than just a summary. To pull off a good literature review chapter, you’ll need to achieve at least 3 things:

  • You need to synthesise the existing research , not just summarise it. In other words, you need to show how different pieces of theory fit together, what’s agreed on by researchers, what’s not.
  • You need to highlight a research gap that your research is going to fill. In other words, you’ve got to outline the problem so that your research topic can provide a solution.
  • You need to use the existing research to inform your methodology and approach to your own research design. For example, you might use questions or Likert scales from previous studies in your your own survey design .

As you can see, a good literature review is more than just a summary of the published research. It’s the foundation on which your own research is built, so it deserves a lot of love and attention. Take the time to craft a comprehensive literature review with a suitable structure .

But, how do I actually write the literature review chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this video post .

Step 6: Carry out your own research

Once you’ve completed your literature review and have a sound understanding of the existing research, its time to develop your own research (finally!). You’ll design this research specifically so that you can find the answers to your unique research question.

There are two steps here – designing your research strategy and executing on it:

1 – Design your research strategy

The first step is to design your research strategy and craft a methodology chapter . I won’t get into the technicalities of the methodology chapter here, but in simple terms, this chapter is about explaining the “how” of your research. If you recall, the introduction and literature review chapters discussed the “what” and the “why”, so it makes sense that the next point to cover is the “how” –that’s what the methodology chapter is all about.

In this section, you’ll need to make firm decisions about your research design. This includes things like:

  • Your research philosophy (e.g. positivism or interpretivism )
  • Your overall methodology (e.g. qualitative , quantitative or mixed methods)
  • Your data collection strategy (e.g. interviews , focus groups, surveys)
  • Your data analysis strategy (e.g. content analysis , correlation analysis, regression)

If these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these in plain language in other posts. It’s not essential that you understand the intricacies of research design (yet!). The key takeaway here is that you’ll need to make decisions about how you’ll design your own research, and you’ll need to describe (and justify) your decisions in your methodology chapter.

2 – Execute: Collect and analyse your data

Once you’ve worked out your research design, you’ll put it into action and start collecting your data. This might mean undertaking interviews, hosting an online survey or any other data collection method. Data collection can take quite a bit of time (especially if you host in-person interviews), so be sure to factor sufficient time into your project plan for this. Oftentimes, things don’t go 100% to plan (for example, you don’t get as many survey responses as you hoped for), so bake a little extra time into your budget here.

Once you’ve collected your data, you’ll need to do some data preparation before you can sink your teeth into the analysis. For example:

  • If you carry out interviews or focus groups, you’ll need to transcribe your audio data to text (i.e. a Word document).
  • If you collect quantitative survey data, you’ll need to clean up your data and get it into the right format for whichever analysis software you use (for example, SPSS, R or STATA).

Once you’ve completed your data prep, you’ll undertake your analysis, using the techniques that you described in your methodology. Depending on what you find in your analysis, you might also do some additional forms of analysis that you hadn’t planned for. For example, you might see something in the data that raises new questions or that requires clarification with further analysis.

The type(s) of analysis that you’ll use depend entirely on the nature of your research and your research questions. For example:

  • If your research if exploratory in nature, you’ll often use qualitative analysis techniques .
  • If your research is confirmatory in nature, you’ll often use quantitative analysis techniques
  • If your research involves a mix of both, you might use a mixed methods approach

Again, if these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these concepts and techniques in other posts. The key takeaway is simply that there’s no “one size fits all” for research design and methodology – it all depends on your topic, your research questions and your data. So, don’t be surprised if your study colleagues take a completely different approach to yours.

The research philosophy is at the core of the methodology chapter

Step 7: Present your findings

Once you’ve completed your analysis, it’s time to present your findings (finally!). In a dissertation or thesis, you’ll typically present your findings in two chapters – the results chapter and the discussion chapter .

What’s the difference between the results chapter and the discussion chapter?

While these two chapters are similar, the results chapter generally just presents the processed data neatly and clearly without interpretation, while the discussion chapter explains the story the data are telling  – in other words, it provides your interpretation of the results.

For example, if you were researching the factors that influence consumer trust, you might have used a quantitative approach to identify the relationship between potential factors (e.g. perceived integrity and competence of the organisation) and consumer trust. In this case:

  • Your results chapter would just present the results of the statistical tests. For example, correlation results or differences between groups. In other words, the processed numbers.
  • Your discussion chapter would explain what the numbers mean in relation to your research question(s). For example, Factor 1 has a weak relationship with consumer trust, while Factor 2 has a strong relationship.

Depending on the university and degree, these two chapters (results and discussion) are sometimes merged into one , so be sure to check with your institution what their preference is. Regardless of the chapter structure, this section is about presenting the findings of your research in a clear, easy to understand fashion.

Importantly, your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions (which you outlined in the introduction or literature review chapter). In other words, it needs to answer the key questions you asked (or at least attempt to answer them).

For example, if we look at the sample research topic:

In this case, the discussion section would clearly outline which factors seem to have a noteworthy influence on organisational trust. By doing so, they are answering the overarching question and fulfilling the purpose of the research .

Your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions. It needs to answer the key questions you asked in your introduction.

For more information about the results chapter , check out this post for qualitative studies and this post for quantitative studies .

Step 8: The Final Step Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications

Last but not least, you’ll need to wrap up your research with the conclusion chapter . In this chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and explaining what the implications of these findings are.

What exactly are key findings? The key findings are those findings which directly relate to your original research questions and overall research objectives (which you discussed in your introduction chapter). The implications, on the other hand, explain what your findings mean for industry, or for research in your area.

Sticking with the consumer trust topic example, the conclusion might look something like this:

Key findings

This study set out to identify which factors influence consumer-based trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms. The results suggest that the following factors have a large impact on consumer trust:

While the following factors have a very limited impact on consumer trust:

Notably, within the 25-30 age groups, Factors E had a noticeably larger impact, which may be explained by…

Implications

The findings having noteworthy implications for British low-cost online equity brokers. Specifically:

The large impact of Factors X and Y implies that brokers need to consider….

The limited impact of Factor E implies that brokers need to…

As you can see, the conclusion chapter is basically explaining the “what” (what your study found) and the “so what?” (what the findings mean for the industry or research). This brings the study full circle and closes off the document.

In the final chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and the implications thereof.

Let’s recap – how to write a dissertation or thesis

You’re still with me? Impressive! I know that this post was a long one, but hopefully you’ve learnt a thing or two about how to write a dissertation or thesis, and are now better equipped to start your own research.

To recap, the 8 steps to writing a quality dissertation (or thesis) are as follows:

  • Understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is – a research project that follows the research process.
  • Find a unique (original) and important research topic
  • Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal
  • Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter
  • Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review
  • Undertake your own research
  • Present and interpret your findings

Once you’ve wrapped up the core chapters, all that’s typically left is the abstract , reference list and appendices. As always, be sure to check with your university if they have any additional requirements in terms of structure or content.  

thesis on dissertations

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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Qualitative interview 101

20 Comments

Romia

thankfull >>>this is very useful

Madhu

Thank you, it was really helpful

Elhadi Abdelrahim

unquestionably, this amazing simplified way of teaching. Really , I couldn’t find in the literature words that fully explicit my great thanks to you. However, I could only say thanks a-lot.

Derek Jansen

Great to hear that – thanks for the feedback. Good luck writing your dissertation/thesis.

Writer

This is the most comprehensive explanation of how to write a dissertation. Many thanks for sharing it free of charge.

Sam

Very rich presentation. Thank you

Hailu

Thanks Derek Jansen|GRADCOACH, I find it very useful guide to arrange my activities and proceed to research!

Nunurayi Tambala

Thank you so much for such a marvelous teaching .I am so convinced that am going to write a comprehensive and a distinct masters dissertation

Hussein Huwail

It is an amazing comprehensive explanation

Eva

This was straightforward. Thank you!

Ken

I can say that your explanations are simple and enlightening – understanding what you have done here is easy for me. Could you write more about the different types of research methods specific to the three methodologies: quan, qual and MM. I look forward to interacting with this website more in the future.

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions 🙂

Osasuyi Blessing

Hello, your write ups is quite educative. However, l have challenges in going about my research questions which is below; *Building the enablers of organisational growth through effective governance and purposeful leadership.*

Dung Doh

Very educating.

Ezra Daniel

Just listening to the name of the dissertation makes the student nervous. As writing a top-quality dissertation is a difficult task as it is a lengthy topic, requires a lot of research and understanding and is usually around 10,000 to 15000 words. Sometimes due to studies, unbalanced workload or lack of research and writing skill students look for dissertation submission from professional writers.

Nice Edinam Hoyah

Thank you 💕😊 very much. I was confused but your comprehensive explanation has cleared my doubts of ever presenting a good thesis. Thank you.

Sehauli

thank you so much, that was so useful

Daniel Madsen

Hi. Where is the excel spread sheet ark?

Emmanuel kKoko

could you please help me look at your thesis paper to enable me to do the portion that has to do with the specification

my topic is “the impact of domestic revenue mobilization.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working elements of your project.

Weekly Goals Sheet (a.k.a. Life Map) [Word Doc]

This editable handout provides a place for you to fill in available time blocks on a weekly chart that will help you visualize the amount of time you have available to write. By using this chart, you will be able to work your writing goals into your schedule and put these goals into perspective with your day-to-day plans and responsibilities each week. This handout also contains a formula to help you determine the minimum number of pages you would need to write per day in order to complete your writing on time.

Setting a Production Schedule (Word Doc)

This editable handout can help you make sense of the various steps involved in the production of your thesis or dissertation and determine how long each step might take. A large part of this process involves (1) seeking out the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding specific document formatting requirements, (2) understanding research protocol limitations, (3) making note of deadlines, and (4) understanding your personal writing habits.

Creating a Roadmap (PDF)

Part of organizing your writing involves having a clear sense of how the different working parts relate to one another. Creating a roadmap for your dissertation early on can help you determine what the final document will include and how all the pieces are connected. This resource offers guidance on several approaches to creating a roadmap, including creating lists, maps, nut-shells, visuals, and different methods for outlining. It is important to remember that you can create more than one roadmap (or more than one type of roadmap) depending on how the different approaches discussed here meet your needs.

/images/cornell/logo35pt_cornell_white.svg" alt="thesis on dissertations"> Cornell University --> Graduate School

Guide to writing your thesis/dissertation, definition of dissertation and thesis.

The dissertation or thesis is a scholarly treatise that substantiates a specific point of view as a result of original research that is conducted by students during their graduate study. At Cornell, the thesis is a requirement for the receipt of the M.A. and M.S. degrees and some professional master’s degrees. The dissertation is a requirement of the Ph.D. degree.

Formatting Requirement and Standards

The Graduate School sets the minimum format for your thesis or dissertation, while you, your special committee, and your advisor/chair decide upon the content and length. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other mechanical issues are your sole responsibility. Generally, the thesis and dissertation should conform to the standards of leading academic journals in your field. The Graduate School does not monitor the thesis or dissertation for mechanics, content, or style.

“Papers Option” Dissertation or Thesis

A “papers option” is available only to students in certain fields, which are listed on the Fields Permitting the Use of Papers Option page , or by approved petition. If you choose the papers option, your dissertation or thesis is organized as a series of relatively independent chapters or papers that you have submitted or will be submitting to journals in the field. You must be the only author or the first author of the papers to be used in the dissertation. The papers-option dissertation or thesis must meet all format and submission requirements, and a singular referencing convention must be used throughout.

ProQuest Electronic Submissions

The dissertation and thesis become permanent records of your original research, and in the case of doctoral research, the Graduate School requires publication of the dissertation and abstract in its original form. All Cornell master’s theses and doctoral dissertations require an electronic submission through ProQuest, which fills orders for paper or digital copies of the thesis and dissertation and makes a digital version available online via their subscription database, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses . For master’s theses, only the abstract is available. ProQuest provides worldwide distribution of your work from the master copy. You retain control over your dissertation and are free to grant publishing rights as you see fit. The formatting requirements contained in this guide meet all ProQuest specifications.

Copies of Dissertation and Thesis

Copies of Ph.D. dissertations and master’s theses are also uploaded in PDF format to the Cornell Library Repository, eCommons . A print copy of each master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation is submitted to Cornell University Library by ProQuest.

How to find resources by format

Why use a dissertation or a thesis.

A dissertation is the final large research paper, based on original research, for many disciplines to be able to complete a PhD degree. The thesis is the same idea but for a masters degree.

They are often considered scholarly sources since they are closely supervised by a committee, are directed at an academic audience, are extensively researched, follow research methodology, and are cited in other scholarly work. Often the research is newer or answering questions that are more recent, and can help push scholarship in new directions. 

Search for dissertations and theses

Locating dissertations and theses.

The Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global database includes doctoral dissertations and selected masters theses from major universities worldwide.

  • Searchable by subject, author, advisor, title, school, date, etc.
  • More information about full text access and requesting through Interlibrary Loan

NDLTD – Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations provides free online access to a over a million theses and dissertations from all over the world.

WorldCat Dissertations and Theses searches library catalogs from across the U.S. and worldwide.

Locating University of Minnesota Dissertations and Theses

Use  Libraries search  and search by title or author and add the word "thesis" in the search box. Write down the library and call number and find it on the shelf. They can be checked out.

Check the  University Digital Conservancy  for online access to dissertations and theses from 2007 to present as well as historic, scanned theses from 1887-1923.

Other Sources for Dissertations and Theses

  • Center for Research Libraries
  • DART-Europe E-Thesis Portal
  • Theses Canada
  • Ethos (Great Britain)
  • Australasian Digital Theses in Trove
  • DiVA (Sweden)
  • E-Thesis at the University of Helsinki
  • DissOnline (Germany)
  • List of libraries worldwide - to search for a thesis when you know the institution and cannot find in the larger collections

University of Minnesota Dissertations and Theses FAQs

What dissertations and theses are available.

With minor exceptions, all doctoral dissertations and all "Plan A" master's theses accepted by the University of Minnesota are available in the University Libraries system. In some cases (see below) only a non-circulating copy in University Archives exists, but for doctoral dissertations from 1940 to date, and for master's theses from 1925 to date, a circulating copy should almost always be available.

"Plan B" papers, accepted in the place of a thesis in many master's degree programs, are not received by the University Libraries and are generally not available. (The only real exceptions are a number of old library school Plan B papers on publishing history, which have been separately cataloged.) In a few cases individual departments may have maintained files of such papers.

In what libraries are U of M dissertations and theses located?

Circulating copies of doctoral dissertations:.

  • Use Libraries Search to look for the author or title of the work desired to determine location and call number of a specific dissertation. Circulating copies of U of M doctoral dissertations can be in one of several locations in the library system, depending upon the date and the department for which the dissertation was done. The following are the general rules:
  • Dissertations prior to 1940 Circulating copies of U of M dissertations prior to 1940 do not exist (with rare exceptions): for these, only the archival copy (see below) is available. Also, most dissertations prior to 1940 are not cataloged in MNCAT and can only be identified by the departmental listings described below.  
  • Dissertations from 1940-1979 Circulating copies of U of M dissertations from 1940 to 1979 will in most cases be held within the Elmer L. Andersen Library, with three major classes of exceptions: dissertations accepted by biological, medical, and related departments are housed in the Health Science Library; science/engineering dissertations from 1970 to date will be located in the Science and Engineering Library (in Walter); and dissertations accepted by agricultural and related departments are available at the Magrath Library or one of the other libraries on the St. Paul campus (the Magrath Library maintains records of locations for such dissertations).  
  • Dissertations from 1980-date Circulating copies of U of M dissertations from 1980 to date at present may be located either in Wilson Library (see below) or in storage; consult Libraries Search for location of specific items. Again, exceptions noted above apply here also; dissertations in their respective departments will instead be in Health Science Library or in one of the St. Paul campus libraries.

Circulating copies of master's theses:

  • Theses prior to 1925 Circulating copies of U of M master's theses prior to 1925 do not exist (with rare exceptions); for these, only the archival copy (see below) is available.  
  • Theses from 1925-1996 Circulating copies of U of M master's theses from 1925 to 1996 may be held in storage; consult Libraries search in specific instances. Once again, there are exceptions and theses in their respective departments will be housed in the Health Science Library or in one of the St. Paul campus libraries.  
  • Theses from 1997-date Circulating copies of U of M master's theses from 1997 to date will be located in Wilson Library (see below), except for the same exceptions for Health Science  and St. Paul theses. There is also an exception to the exception: MHA (Masters in Health Administration) theses through 1998 are in the Health Science Library, but those from 1999 on are in Wilson Library.

Archival copies (non-circulating)

Archival (non-circulating) copies of virtually all U of M doctoral dissertations from 1888-1952, and of U of M master's theses from all years up to the present, are maintained by University Archives (located in the Elmer L. Andersen Library). These copies must be consulted on the premises, and it is highly recommended for the present that users make an appointment in advance to ensure that the desired works can be retrieved for them from storage. For dissertations accepted prior to 1940 and for master's theses accepted prior to 1925, University Archives is generally the only option (e.g., there usually will be no circulating copy). Archival copies of U of M doctoral dissertations from 1953 to the present are maintained by Bell and Howell Corporation (formerly University Microfilms Inc.), which produces print or filmed copies from our originals upon request. (There are a very few post-1952 U of M dissertations not available from Bell and Howell; these include such things as music manuscripts and works with color illustrations or extremely large pages that will not photocopy well; in these few cases, our archival copy is retained in University Archives.)

Where is a specific dissertation of thesis located?

To locate a specific dissertation or thesis it is necessary to have its call number. Use Libraries Search for the author or title of the item, just as you would for any other book. Depending on date of acceptance and cataloging, a typical call number for such materials should look something like one of the following:

Dissertations: Plan"A" Theses MnU-D or 378.7M66 MnU-M or 378.7M66 78-342 ODR7617 83-67 OL6156 Libraries Search will also tell the library location (MLAC, Health Science Library, Magrath or another St. Paul campus library, Science and Engineering, Business Reference, Wilson Annex or Wilson Library). Those doctoral dissertations still in Wilson Library (which in all cases should be 1980 or later and will have "MnU-D" numbers) are located in the central section of the third floor. Those master's theses in Wilson (which in all cases will be 1997 or later and will have "MnU-M" numbers) are also located in the central section of the third floor. Both dissertations and theses circulate and can be checked out, like any other books, at the Wilson Circulation desk on the first floor.

How can dissertations and theses accepted by a specific department be located?

Wilson Library contains a series of bound and loose-leaf notebooks, arranged by department and within each department by date, listing dissertations and theses. Information given for each entry includes name of author, title, and date (but not call number, which must be looked up individually). These notebooks are no longer current, but they do cover listings by department from the nineteenth century up to approximately 1992. Many pre-1940 U of M dissertations and pre-1925 U of M master's theses are not cataloged (and exist only as archival copies). Such dissertations can be identified only with these volumes. The books and notebooks are shelved in the general collection under these call numbers: Wilson Ref LD3337 .A5 and Wilson Ref quarto LD3337 .U9x. Major departments of individual degree candidates are also listed under their names in the GRADUATE SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT programs of the U of M, available in University Archives and (for recent years) also in Wilson stacks (LD3361 .U55x).

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Finding Dissertations and Theses

  • IU Dissertations
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Ask a Librarian

Kristina Bradley-Khan, Nickoal Eichmann, Emily Okada, Keila DuBois, Alyssa Denneler.

Based on a document created by Sarah Mitchell in 2010

Created: February 2013

A Guide to Finding Dissertations

Dissertations are book-length works based on a PhD candidate's original research that are written as requirements for the doctoral degree. Theses are similar but shorter texts that are written by students working towards Master's and sometimes Bachelor's degrees.  Both dissertations and theses offer researchers valuable insights and analysis of all subjects. They can also be useful in leading to other resources as part of your own research.

Click on the tabs at the top of this page for information about specific resources and useful search techniques for finding dissertations. You can also navigate using the "Guide Contents" links on the left side of the page.

If you encounter difficulties in obtaining full-texts of dissertations or theses, consult a librarian. The "Ask A Librarian" instant message widget is located on the left of every page underneath the tabs.

Getting Started

Know what you're looking for (mostly)?

When looking for a specific dissertation, you need some or all of the following:

Just looking for a certain subject area?

When looking for dissertations in a specific subject area, you may need a variety of search terms and limiters. For example:

Where to Search

In general, start your search in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. If you are looking for an IU dissertation and cannot find it in ProQuest, search ScholarWorks. If it is not in ScholarWorks, search IUCAT.

Comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses from around the world, including millions of works from thousands of universities. Each dissertation published since July, 1980 includes a 350-word abstract written by the author. Master's theses published since 1988 include 150-word abstracts. Simple bibliographic citations are available for dissertations dating from 1637.

Includes the following: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses: UK & Ireland ProQuest Dissertations & Theses: A & I ProQuest Dissertations & Theses: CIC Institutions

An open access repository that organizes and preserves the work of IU scholars, including published and unpublished materials, supplementary files, and gray literature.

The Indiana University online catalog.

IUCAT, Indiana University's online library catalog, provides comprehensive access to millions of items held by the IU Libraries statewide, including books, recordings, US government publications, periodicals, and other types of material. Users can access IUCAT from any Internet-connected computer or device, whether in the libraries, on campus, or off campus.

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EBSCO Open Dissertations

EBSCO Open Dissertations makes electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) more accessible to researchers worldwide. The free portal is designed to benefit universities and their students and make ETDs more discoverable. 

Increasing Discovery & Usage of ETD Research

EBSCO Open Dissertations is a collaboration between EBSCO and BiblioLabs to increase traffic and discoverability of ETD research. You can join the movement and add your theses and dissertations to the database, making them freely available to researchers everywhere while increasing traffic to your institutional repository. 

EBSCO Open Dissertations extends the work started in 2014, when EBSCO and the H.W. Wilson Foundation created American Doctoral Dissertations which contained indexing from the H.W. Wilson print publication, Doctoral Dissertations Accepted by American Universities, 1933-1955. In 2015, the H.W. Wilson Foundation agreed to support the expansion of the scope of the American Doctoral Dissertations database to include records for dissertations and theses from 1955 to the present.

How Does EBSCO Open Dissertations Work?

Your ETD metadata is harvested via OAI and integrated into EBSCO’s platform, where pointers send traffic to your IR.

EBSCO integrates this data into their current subscriber environments and makes the data available on the open web via opendissertations.org .

You might also be interested in:

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Open Access Theses and Dissertations

Thursday, April 18, 8:20am (EDT): Searching is temporarily offline. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to bring searching back up as quickly as possible.

Advanced research and scholarship. Theses and dissertations, free to find, free to use.

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Browse by author name (“Author name starts with…”).

Find ETDs with:

Written in any language English Portuguese French German Spanish Swedish Lithuanian Dutch Italian Chinese Finnish Greek Published in any country US or Canada Argentina Australia Austria Belgium Bolivia Brazil Canada Chile China Colombia Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Ireland Italy Japan Latvia Lithuania Malaysia Mexico Netherlands New Zealand Norway Peru Portugal Russia Singapore South Africa South Korea Spain Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Thailand UK US Earliest date Latest date

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October 3, 2022. OATD is dealing with a number of misbehaved crawlers and robots, and is currently taking some steps to minimize their impact on the system. This may require you to click through some security screen. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

Recent Additions

See all of this week’s new additions.

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About OATD.org

OATD.org aims to be the best possible resource for finding open access graduate theses and dissertations published around the world. Metadata (information about the theses) comes from over 1100 colleges, universities, and research institutions . OATD currently indexes 7,241,108 theses and dissertations.

About OATD (our FAQ) .

Visual OATD.org

We’re happy to present several data visualizations to give an overall sense of the OATD.org collection by county of publication, language, and field of study.

You may also want to consult these sites to search for other theses:

  • Google Scholar
  • NDLTD , the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations. NDLTD provides information and a search engine for electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), whether they are open access or not.
  • Proquest Theses and Dissertations (PQDT), a database of dissertations and theses, whether they were published electronically or in print, and mostly available for purchase. Access to PQDT may be limited; consult your local library for access information.

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Home » For Authors & Researchers » Open Access Theses & Dissertations

Open Access Theses & Dissertations

1. Does UC require me to make my thesis/dissertation open access? 2. Can I delay open access to my thesis? 3. I’m working on my thesis/dissertation and I have copyright questions. Where can I find answers? 4. Where can I find UC Theses and Dissertations online?

1. Does UC require me to make my thesis/dissertation open access?

Several UC campuses have established policies requiring open access to the electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) written by their graduate students. As of March 25, 2020, there is now a systemwide Policy on Open Access for Theses and Dissertations , indicating that UC “requires theses or dissertations prepared at the University to be (1) deposited into an open access repository, and (2) freely and openly available to the public, subject to a requested delay of access (’embargo’) obtained by the student.”

In accordance with these policies, campuses must ensure that student ETDs are available open access via eScholarship (UC’s open access repository and publishing platform), at no cost to students. By contrast, ProQuest, the world’s largest commercial publisher of ETDs, charges a $95 fee to make an ETD open access. Institutions worldwide have moved toward open access ETD publication because it dramatically increases the visibility and reach of their graduate research.

Policies and procedures for ETD filing, including how to delay public release of an ETD and how long such a delay can last, vary by campus. Learn more :

  • UC Berkeley: Dissertation Filing Guidelines (for Doctoral Students) and Thesis Filing Guidelines (for Master’s Students)
  • UC Davis: Preparing and Filing Your Thesis or Dissertation
  • UC Irvine: Thesis/Dissertation Electronic Submission
  • UCLA: File Your Thesis or Dissertation
  • UC Merced: Dissertation/Thesis Submission
  • UC Riverside: Dissertation and Thesis Submission
  • UC San Diego:  Preparing to Graduate
  • UCSF: Dissertation and Thesis Guidelines
  • UC Santa Barbara:  Filing Your Thesis, Dissertation, or DMA Supporting Document
  • UC Santa Cruz: Dissertation and Thesis Guidelines (PDF) from the Graduate Division’s Accessing Forms Online page

2. Can I delay open access to my thesis/dissertation?

Some campuses allow students to elect an embargo period before the public release of their thesis/dissertation; others require approval from graduate advisors or administrators. Visit your local graduate division’s website (linked above) for more information.

In 2013, the American Historical Association released a statement calling for graduate programs to adopt policies for up to a six year embargo for history dissertations. Many scholars found this extreme, and a variety of commentators weighed in (see, e.g., discussions in The Atlantic , The Chronicle of Higher Education , and Inside Higher Ed ).  In addition, a memo from Rosemary Joyce, the Associate Dean of the Graduate Division of UC Berkeley, listed several advantages of releasing a dissertation immediately and added that “the potential disadvantages… remain anecdotal.” In the years since the flurry of writing responding to the AHA statement, the discussion of dissertation embargoes has continued, but the issues have remained largely the same. Thus, this memo from the UC Berkeley graduate dean (2013) remains an excellent summary.

3. I’m working on my thesis/dissertation and I have copyright questions. Where can I find answers?

Students writing theses/dissertations most commonly have questions about their own copyright ownership or the use of other people’s copyrighted materials in their own work.

You automatically own the copyright in your thesis/dissertation   as soon as you create it , regardless of whether you register it or include a copyright page or copyright notice. Most students choose not to register their copyrights, though some choose to do so because they value having their copyright ownership officially and publicly recorded. Getting a copyright registered is required before you can sue someone for infringement.

If you decide to register your copyright, you can do so

  • directly, through the Copyright Office website , for $35
  • by having ProQuest/UMI contact the Copyright Office on your behalf, for $65.

It is common to incorporate 1) writing you have done for journal articles as part of your dissertation, and 2) parts of your dissertation into articles or books . See, for example, these articles from Wiley and Taylor & Francis giving authors tips on how to successfully turn dissertations into articles, or these pages at Sage , Springer , and Elsevier listing reuse in a thesis or dissertation as a common right of authors. Because this is a well-known practice, and often explicitly allowed in publishers’ contracts with authors, it rarely raises copyright concerns. eScholarship , which hosts over 55,000 UC ETDs, has never received a takedown notice from a publisher based on a complaint that the author’s ETD was too similar to the author’s published work.

Incorporating the works of others in your thesis/dissertation – such as quotations or illustrative images – is often allowed by copyright law. This is the case when the original work isn’t protected by copyright, or if the way you’re using the work would be considered fair use. In some circumstances, however, you will need permission from the copyright holder.  For more information, please consult the Berkeley Library’s guide to Copyright and Publishing Your Dissertation .

For more in depth information about copyright generally, visit the UC Copyright site.

4. Where can I find UC Dissertations and Theses online?

All ten UC campuses make their electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) openly accessible to readers around the world. You can view over 55,000 UC ETDs in eScholarship , UC’s open access repository. View ETDs from each campus:

  • Santa Barbara

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Theses and Dissertations

Check Cornell’s library catalog , which lists the dissertations available in our library collection.

The print thesis collection in Uris Library is currently shelved on Level 3B before the Q to QA regular-sized volumes. Check with the library staff for the thesis shelving locations in other libraries (Mann, Catherwood, Fine Arts, etc.).

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

According to ProQuest, coverage begins with 1637. With more than 2.4 million entries,  ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global  is the starting point for finding citations to doctoral dissertations and master’s theses. Dissertations published from 1980 forward include 350-word abstracts written by the author. Master’s theses published from 1988 forward include 150-word abstracts. UMI also offers over 1.8 million titles for purchase in microfilm or paper formats. The full text of more than 930,000 are available in PDF format for immediate free download. Use  Interlibrary Loan  for the titles not available as full text online.

Foreign Dissertations at the Center for Research Libraries

To search for titles and verify holdings of dissertations at the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), use the CRL catalog . CRL seeks to provide comprehensive access to doctoral dissertations submitted to institutions outside the U. S. and Canada (currently more than 750,000 titles). One hundred European universities maintain exchange or deposit agreements with CRL. Russian dissertation abstracts in the social sciences are obtained on microfiche from INION.  More detailed information about CRL’s dissertation holdings .

Please see our resource guide on dissertations and theses for additional resources and support.

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Dissertations and Theses at UGA

The University of Georgia has both electronic and print theses and dissertations.

Online availability

Note:  Some authors restrict access to their electronic thesis or dissertation for 2 years after graduation. During this period, some theses and dissertations may be either completely restricted or limited to on-campus use. UGA affiliates can view them on campus or through the vLAB service . For  UGA Theses and Dissertations , our 1999 - Summer 2001 coverage is partial.

More Options

Search the  GIL-Find catalog  to find records for both print and electronic dissertations and theses. Make sure to add the keywords “University of Georgia” and “dissertation” or “thesis” to your search in the GIL-Find catalog. You can also limit to Dissertation/Theses using the Format filter on the left. Dissertations and theses up through 2001 are available in print, and are held in our storage facility or in Special Collections.

  • Storage Facility:  UGA affiliates can request most dissertations from off-site storage in the  GIL-Find catalog . Sign in in order to request pickup. We will email you when the item is available. If you are affiliated with UGA, you are usually able to check them out.

Off-site storage sign-in page

  • Special Collections:  There are also some dissertations and theses at Special Collections. Click the Request to view at Special Collections link in the GIL-Find Catalog. Special Collections copies cannot be checked out and must be viewed on-site.

View at special collections link under Request Options

Most of the dissertations in  UGA Theses & Dissertations  are available for public use. If the thesis or dissertation you want is not available online due to age or restriction to on-campus use only,  place a request  for the dissertation or thesis through your home library’s interlibrary loan department.

Non-UGA visitors can view print copies of dissertations and theses on-campus. To request to view a print copy stored at the Repository, please contact Access Services: 706.542.3256 ‌‌[email protected]

Graduate students submit their completed dissertation or thesis to Proquest. Then, the Libraries adds them to UGA Theses & Dissertations and begins to catalog them in the Gil-Find catalog . They are also listed in WorldCat for interlibrary loan requests to non-UGA users. If you have recently graduated and need more information about the status of your thesis or dissertation, contact the Graduate School at [email protected]

Check out the Graduate School's Thesis & Dissertation Requirements and the UGA Libraries' Guide to Scholarly Publishing & Communication.

  • Harvard Library
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Research Guide for CES Visiting Scholars

  • Dissertations & Theses
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Dissertations

General sources, german, dutch, and scandinavian dissertations, electronic dissertations.

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This page lists resources for dissertations (general and RLL-related) along with information on electronic dissertations. In general, Harvard's Interlibrary Loan service cannot obtain dissertations; in many cases you'll need to acquire directly from the institution where the work was submitted. 

To find doctoral dissertations from North American universities and some European institutions, search:

Dissertations and Theses Full Text

This is the largest database with 2.7 million citations for Masters and PhD dissertations. Full text for most dissertations from 1997 on (at this writing, 1.2 million full text dissertations available for download in PDF format). Hosted by ProQuest. Use Harvard's Get It Interlibrary Loan link to request print dissertations.

  Harvard dissertations and theses

As above, most of these from 1997 are available via ProQuest.

Havard dissertations and theses since 2012 are also available in our online repository, DASH , and in HOLLIS. If a dissertation from 2012 forward is not available in full text, the author has placed an embargo on it (up to 5 years) and the library won't be able to obtain it, but you may be able to ask the author.

Use Harvard's Interlibrary Loan to obtain any theses and dissertations found by searching

Center for Research Libraries Catalog: Dissertations

Request item through Get It (ILL link)

To find print sources, search HOLLIS Classic: Subject beginning with... e.g. Dissertations, Academic--France--Bibliography.

dissonline.de Search for German and Swiss electronic dissertations and "Habilitationen." For dissertations that have not been digitized, search the catalog of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek .

Gegnir (IS) Click on "Námsritgerðir" (Icelandic interface) or "Thesis search" (English interface) to limit to dissertations.

HELKA (FI) Select the Advanced Search and "Väitöskirja/Dissertation or Thesis" from the search box.

Det Kongelige Bibliotek/The Danish Royal Library (DK) Search on "thesis," "dissertation," or "afhandling" (the latter if you want dissertations in Danish) together with your search terms.

Libris (SE) Select "Dissertations" under "Type of publication" box to limit your search to dissertations.

Nasjonalbiblioteket (NO) Select "Post graduate theses" in the search box to limit your search to dissertations.

National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System (NARCIS): Promise of Science   (NL) The "Promise of Science" provides access to over 21,000 full-text doctoral e-theses from all Dutch universities. It is a subset of NARCIS and DAREnet. Dates of coverage vary, but dissertations are mostly from recent years.

Österreichische Dissertationsdatenbank (AU) This database references over 55,000 dissertations and theses held at Austrian Universities; select dissertations are available online.

Ongoing research and development in the e-sphere:

Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) , an inter national organization dedicated to promoting the adoption, creation, use, dissemination, and preservation of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).

The Guide for Electronic Theses and Dissertations A wiki maintained by the NDLTD ETD Revision Team. Addresses issues for submission and administration of e-dissertations, whether born-digital or digital versions of print documents.

The European Working Group of the NDLTD is the DART-Europe E-theses Portal (DEEP). Intended to be the single European portal for dissertations, DART-Europe is a collaboration of research libraries and library consortia, endorsed by LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche).

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  • Last Updated: May 13, 2024 1:49 PM
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Harvard University Digital Accessibility Policy

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May 15, 2024

Tips and Resources for a Successful Summer of Dissertation Writing

By Yana Zlochistaya

Summer can be a strange time for graduate students. Gone are the seminars and workshops, the student clubs, and the working group, that structured the semester and provided us with a sense of community. Instead, we’re faced with a three-month expanse of time that can feel equal parts liberating and intimidating. This double-edged freedom is only exacerbated for those of us in the writing stage of our dissertation, when isolation and a lack of discipline can have a particularly big impact. For those hoping not to enter another summer with lofty plans, only to blink and find ourselves in August disappointed with our progress, we’ve compiled some tips and resources that can help.

According to Graduate Writing Center Director Sabrina Soracco, the most important thing you can do to set yourself up for writing success is to clarify your goals. She recommends starting this process by looking at departmental requirements for a completed dissertation. Consider when you would like to file and work backwards from that point, determining what you have to get done in order to hit that target. Next, check in with your dissertation committee members to set up an accountability structure. Would they prefer an end-of-summer update to the whole committee? A monthly check-in with your chair or one of your readers? Setting up explicit expectations that work for you and your committee can cut through the aimlessness that comes with a major writing project.

For those early on in their dissertation-writing process, a committee meeting is also a valuable opportunity to set parameters. “One of the problems with the excitement for the discipline that happens post-quals is that it results in too many ideas,” says Director Soracco. Your committee members should give you input on productive research directions so that you can begin to hone in on your project. It is also important to remember that your dissertation does not have to be the end-all-and-be-all of your academic research. Ideas that do not fit into its scope can end up becoming conference papers or even book chapters.

Once you have a clear goal that you have discussed with your committee, the hard part begins: you have to actually write. The Graduate Writing Center offers several resources to make that process easier:

  • The Graduate Writing Community. This is a totally remote, two-month program that is based on a model of “gentle accountability.” When you sign up, you are added to a bCourses site moderated by a Graduate Writing Consultant. At the beginning of the week, everyone sets their goals in a discussion post, and by the end of the week, everyone checks in with progress updates. During the week, the writing consultants offer nine hours of remote synchronous writing sessions. As a writing community member, you can attend whichever sessions work best for your schedule. All that’s required is that you show up, set a goal for that hour, and work towards that goal for the length of two 25-minute Pomodoro sessions . This year’s summer writing community will begin in June. Keep your eye on your email for the registration link!
  • Writing Consultations : As a graduate student, you can sign up for an individual meeting with a Graduate Writing Consultant. They can give you feedback on your work, help you figure out the structure of a chapter, or just talk through how to get started on a writing project. 
  • Independent Writing Groups: If you would prefer to write with specific friends or colleagues, you can contact Graduate Writing Center Director Sabrina Soracco at [email protected] so that she can help you set up your own writing group. The structure and length of these groups can differ; often, members will send each other one to five pages of writing weekly and meet the next day for two hours to provide feedback and get advice. Sometimes, groups will meet up not only to share writing, but to work in a common space before coming together to debrief. Regardless of what the groups look like, the important thing is to create a guilt-free space. Some weeks, you might submit an outline; other weeks, it might be the roughest of rough drafts; sometimes, you might come to a session without having submitted anything. As long as we continue to make progress (and show up even when we don’t), we’re doing what we need to. As Director Soracco puts it, “it often takes slogging through a lot of stuff to get to that great epiphany.”

Yana Zlochistaya is a fifth-year graduate student in the Department of Comparative Literature and a Professional Development Liaison with the Graduate Division. She previously served as a co-director for Beyond Academia.

UT Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Permanent URI for this community https://hdl.handle.net/2152/4

This collection contains University of Texas at Austin electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). The collection includes ETDs primarily from 2001 to the present. Some pre-2001 theses and dissertations have been digitized and added to this collection, but those are uncommon. The library catalog is the most comprehensive list of UT Austin theses and dissertations.

Since 2010, the Office of Graduate Studies at UT Austin has required all theses and dissertations to be made publicly available in Texas ScholarWorks; however, authors are able to request an embargo of up to seven years. Embargoed ETDs will not show up in this collection. Most of the ETDs in this collection are freely accessible to all users, but some pre-2010 works require a current UT EID at point of use. Please see the FAQs for more information. If you have a question about the availability of a specific ETD, please contact [email protected].

Some items in this collection may contain offensive images or text. The University of Texas Libraries is committed to maintaining an accurate and authentic scholarly and historic record. An authentic record is essential for understanding our past and informing the present. In order to preserve the authenticity of the historical record we will not honor requests to redact content, correct errors, or otherwise remove content, except in cases where there are legal concerns (e.g. potential copyright infringement, inclusion of HIPAA/FERPA protected information or Social Security Numbers) or evidence of a clear and imminent threat to personal safety or well-being.

This policy is in keeping with the  American Library Association code of ethics  to resist efforts to censor library resources, and the  Society of American Archivists code of ethics  that states "archivists may not willfully alter, manipulate, or destroy data or records to conceal facts or distort evidence." Please see UT Libraries'  Statement on Harmful Language and Content  for more information.

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Yinan Sun Defends Her Dissertation “Exploring Cultural Affordances on WeChat ”

Congratulations to Yinan Sun for passing her dissertation defense on Thursday, May 9, 2024!

Title of Dissertation:

Exploring Cultural Affordances on WeChat

How social media, culture, and ordinary people as users influence each other is probably one of the most intriguing questions for scholars in the field of social media studies. To respond to this complex query, the dissertation project investigates the interaction between technology, individuals, and culture, utilizing a three-dimensional theoretical framework of cultural affordances, with a specific focus on WeChat and Chinese culture. Purposive and snowball sampling methods were employed based on the authors’ two pilot studies. Data was collected from February to October 2022 through 31 in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Participants included 14 WeChat primary users (Group 1), 10 college students using WeChat and other platforms (Group 2), and seven WeChat product managers/designers (Group 3). Additionally, follow-up discussions, non-participatory observations, and an anonymous voluntary survey were conducted. All were conducted in Mandarin via WeChat video chat due to COVID-19, lasting 60-90 minutes each. In total, seven behavioral changes and three perceptual changes in participants’ ways of using and perceiving WeChat, five cultural changes on WeChat, and one technological change of WeChat emerged from the collected data. The study addressed the pivotal roles of WeChat, ordinary users, and Chinese culture in molding behavioral patterns. Moreover, it discussed the intricate connections between the three dimensions of cultural affordances and explored the nuances distinguishing affordances and agency between human and nonhuman actors. In the end, the research project proposed innovative perspectives and alternative practices pertaining to the utilization and design of WeChat.

Committee Members:

Dr. Daniel D. Suthers (CIS) – Chairperson Dr. Rich Gazan (CIS) Dr. Wayne Buente (CIS) Dr. Min-Sun Kim (CIS) Dr. Nicole Reyes (The Department of Educational Administration) – University Representative.

Dissertation Fieldwork Grants

These grants of up to $5,000 provide support for fieldwork expenses. For the purpose of this grant, fieldwork is defined as data collection that takes place for an extended period of time (e.g. weeks or months) outside the western Massachusetts geographical area. These grants are not designed to fund data analysis, only expenses related to data collection. In rare instances applicants may request up to $8,000 to help support work that will take place over an extended period of time and therefore incur significant expense. Applicants will need to submit a statement as part of the application to explain why additional funds are being requested. 

Who Is Eligible?

UMass Amherst doctoral students enrolled in a campus-based degree program (i.e. no online programs) and in good academic standing are eligible to apply. Students may receive this grant only once. Applicants who were not awarded a grant in a previous application cycle are eligible to reapply. Students may accept only one research grant from the Graduate School in an academic year. 

Application deadlines are October 15 and February 15 each year. Applicants should plan the timing of their application based on the funding period outlined below: 

  • Applications submitted for the October 15, 2023 deadline should include research expenses that begin on January 1, 2024 or later. Awardees must secure all necessary research permission (IRB approval, IACUC approval, travel registry approval)  and complete relevant online CITI training in Responsible Conduct of Research no later than May 24, 2024 or the Fieldwork Grant will be forfeited. 
  • Applications submitted for the February 15, 2024 deadline should include research expenses that begin July 1, 2024 or later. Awardees must secure all necessary research permission (IRB approval, IACUC approval, travel registry approval) and complete relevant online CITI training in Responsible Conduct of Research no later than May 24, 2024 or the Fieldwork Grant will be forfeited. 

The application deadline is 11:59 PM on the posted due date. All required materials (including the advisor’s Letter of Recommendation) must be received by this time. Award notifications will be made by the end of the semester in which the application was submitted. 

How to Apply

To allow sufficient planning time, we recommend students submit a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant application at least six months before funds are needed. A completed application includes:

  • A  Fieldwork Grant Application . You will login to the application using your UMass email. You may may revise the text entry portions of your application by logging back in; PDFs cannot be edited once they are uploaded. 
  • What do you seek to accomplish with your dissertation research? (i.e., what are your research questions/aims/objectives?)
  • How will you accomplish this? (i.e., what research methods will you use?)
  • What contribution(s) will this research make?
  • How would a Fieldwork Grant contribute to your ability to successfully complete your dissertation?
  • A Budget Table (use  this template ; upload your completed Budget Table as a PDF in the Fieldwork Grant Application. See tips below for preparing your Budget Table and Budget Justification.)
  • A Budget Justification , which provides details on how you arrived at the amounts listed in the Budget Table (upload the Budget Justification as a PDF in the Fieldwork Grant Application; use the tips below and review this  sample Budget Table and Budget Justification  to understand how these documents should be prepared.)
  • A letter of recommendation submitted by your advisor (see instructions below). 

Include your first and last name in the file name for every document you upload to the Fieldwork Grant Application. 

Tips for preparing your Budget Table and Budget Justification

  • Review the list of eligible and ineligible expenses below. 
  • Include enough detail in your Budget Justification for a reviewer to understand how the amounts in your Budget Table connect with the research activities outlined in your Project Description.
  • Consult the  UMass Controller's Office website  for standard mileage amounts and other travel expense guidelines. 
  • For travel outside the United States estimate your living expenses using your prior experience in that country or the  Fulbright-Hays Maintenance Allowance  guide (use the Monthly Stipend column).

Instructions for Faculty Advisor

The faculty advisor reviews the completed Budget Table and Budget Justification, writes a letter of recommendation, and  submits it online . Note: Faculty do not receive a prompt to submit a letter; use the link provided here. Faculty must login using their UMass email to access the submission portal; non-UMass faculty should contact  researchgrant [at] grad [dot] umass [dot] edu (Heidi Bauer-Clapp)  for submission instructions. 

Please include the student's first and last name in the file name. The letter of recommendation should address the following:

  • The student’s ability to carry out the activities proposed in the Fieldwork Grant application.
  • The student’s progress in degree program and general academic qualifications.
  • The merit of the intended dissertation research and how activities proposed in the Fieldwork Grant application will help the student complete their dissertation.

Review Criteria

The following information will be considered by reviewers: 

  • Clarity and quality of the Project Description--applications will be reviewed by faculty outside your field who need to understand what you plan to do, how you will do this work, and the potential impact your work will have. Avoid jargon and technical language! 
  • Feasibility of the proposed project: Does it seem likely that you can complete the research plan as outlined? 
  • Whether the budget is realistic and cost-efficient
  • Quality of the letter of recommendation

Eligible expenses  include (but are not limited to):

  • Research-related travel to research site(s) or local travel at the research site(s)
  • Living expenses at research site(s) (e.g. lodging, food)
  • Fees to use libraries, archives, or databases while at your research site(s)
  • Duplication or distribution of research materials (e.g. photocopies of surveys)
  • Purchase of research supplies or equipment, which will remain the property of the University

Ineligible expenses  include:

  • Salary for the graduate student applicant
  • Expenses related to student training, including language or methodology training
  • Transcription
  • Online research (e.g. costs to conduct an online survey)
  • Standard office or laboratory supplies (these include items considered standard for your department/laboratory, i.e. things routinely in stock)
  • Purchase of computers or tablets (unless the student can demonstrate that such equipment is integral to data collection)
  • Food (with the exception of meals while in the field)
  • Costs to attend or present at conferences or meetings
  • Purchasing data sets
  • Purchase of books
  • Fees or other costs associated with publication
  • Fees or other costs associated with membership in professional associations
  • Costs incurred at home while the researcher is in the field (e.g. rent)

In most cases, award funds will be disbursed as reimbursements, although some expenses such as equipment purchases must be paid directly by the University. Awarded funds are managed by the student’s department; awardees must communicate with their department’s business manager prior to spending any grant funds. Grant recipients will be required to submit a brief report at the end of the grant period to account for how grant funds were spent.

Supplements for Public Engagement or Travel with Children

Applicants for Graduate School Grants are eligible to apply for supplements to cover costs associated with Public Engagement projects or childcare/travel with children during research. Please review the criteria and application information in the Public Engagement and Travel with Children pages.

Questions on the Graduate School Fieldwork Grant should be addressed to  researchgrant [at] grad [dot] umass [dot] edu ( Heidi Bauer-Clapp ) .

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2024 Best Doctoral Dissertation Advances Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering, Seismic Design

  • by Molly Bechtel
  • May 21, 2024

Sumeet Kumar Sinha is this year's recipient of the University of California, Davis, College of Engineering Zuhair A. Munir Award for Best Doctoral Dissertation. The award recognizes the methods, findings and significance of Sinha's research, which featured several first-of-its-kind approaches and analyses in the field of geotechnical earthquake engineering and is actively informing seismic design practices.   

Sumeet Kumar Sinha

The college established the annual award in 1999 in honor of Zuhair A. Munir, the former dean of engineering who led the college from 2000 to 2002 and acted as associate dean for graduate studies for 20 years. The award recognizes a doctoral student, their exemplary research and the mentorship of their major professor.  

A two-time Aggie alum, Sinha received his master's degree in 2017 and Ph.D. in 2022 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where he was mentored by Associate Professor Katerina Ziotopoulou and Professor Emeritus Bruce Kutter . He is now an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and co-founder of BrahmaSens, a startup that specializes in the development of sensing technologies and solutions for application in various sectors including health-monitoring of civil infrastructures.  

"It's really a special honor to get this [award]," said Sinha. "It acknowledges both the depth and significance of the research I conducted during my Ph.D."   

Sinha's dissertation is of notable significance in California, where agencies like the Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, which funded his research, are eager to identify improved design methods in seismically active regions of the state.  

In " Liquefaction-Induced Downdrag on Piles: Centrifuge and Numerical Modeling, and Design Procedures ," Sinha focuses on the effects of earthquakes on deep foundations, like piles, in soils that can liquefy. Liquefaction occurs when wet sand-like soils lose their strength due to increased pore water pressure during earthquake shaking. This causes the soil to behave like a liquid, leading to significant ground deformations.   

After the shaking stops, the soil slowly regains its strength as the water drains out, but this settling and densifying process, called reconsolidation, can drag down piles downward. Additional downdrag loads have not always been properly accounted for in conventional design.   

Cutter, Sinha and Ziotopoulou next to one model

Through centrifuge model tests at the UC Davis Center for Geotechnical Modeling , Sinha developed numerical models to evaluate scenarios. His findings include procedures for accurately estimating downdrag loads and the corresponding demands on pile foundations, as well as practical methods to design bridges in a more efficient and economical way.  

"Dr. Sinha's methods, approaches, documentation, results and overall findings have been, by any standards, novel and meticulous," said Ziotopoulou in her nomination letter. "His research represents a significant and original contribution to the field of geotechnical earthquake engineering, and his findings have already been implemented into practice by major design firms."  

Sinha's research was recognized with a DesignSafe Dataset Award , an Editor's Choice in his field's top journal and the Michael Condon Scholarship from the Deep Foundations Institute. He has published seven papers in peer-reviewed journals.  

Of perhaps greater meaning to Sinha is making improvements in the design codes to make them more informed, feasible, economical, resilient and sustainable through the complete understanding of the mechanism obtained through his findings from experiments, developed numerical models and design procedures, which are available publicly via platforms such as GitHub and DesignSafe.   

"My philosophy has always been to convert whatever I'm doing into a product, a tool which has a wider impact," explained Sinha. "During my Ph.D., I tried to go beyond the deliverables so that I maximize the impact of [my research]."  

Sinha is grateful for his mentors' and peers' influence and support during the five-year Ph.D. program at UC Davis.  

"I have learned a lot from [Professors Katerina Ziotopoulou and Bruce Kutter] academically as well as professionally," said Sinha. "The Geotechnical Graduate Student Society also had a very important role in my overall experience at UC Davis."  

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  1. How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis

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    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process.It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to ...

  3. What Is a Thesis?

    Revised on April 16, 2024. A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

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  5. Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started

    Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started. The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working ...

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    dissertation students. In some theses, two original empirical studies may be necessary to propose and test a hypothesis. However, both dissertations and theses are expected to meet the same standard of originality, approaching a new area of study and contributing significantly to the universal body of knowledge (Athanasou et al., 2012 ...

  7. Guide to Writing Your Thesis/Dissertation : Graduate School

    Definition of Dissertation and Thesis. The dissertation or thesis is a scholarly treatise that substantiates a specific point of view as a result of original research that is conducted by students during their graduate study. At Cornell, the thesis is a requirement for the receipt of the M.A. and M.S. degrees and some professional master's ...

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    Locating Dissertations and Theses. The Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global database includes doctoral dissertations and selected masters theses from major universities worldwide.. Searchable by subject, author, advisor, title, school, date, etc. More information about full text access and requesting through Interlibrary Loan; NDLTD - Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations ...

  9. Harvard University Theses, Dissertations, and Prize Papers

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  10. Library Research Guides: Finding Dissertations and Theses : Home

    A Guide to Finding Dissertations. Dissertations are book-length works based on a PhD candidate's original research that are written as requirements for the doctoral degree. Theses are similar but shorter texts that are written by students working towards Master's and sometimes Bachelor's degrees. Both dissertations and theses offer researchers ...

  11. PDF APA Style Dissertation Guidelines: Formatting Your Dissertation

    Dissertation Content When the content of the dissertation starts, the page numbering should restart at page one using Arabic numbering (i.e., 1, 2, 3, etc.) and continue throughout the dissertation until the end. The Arabic page number should be aligned to the upper right margin of the page with a running head aligned to the upper left margin.

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    You may also want to consult these sites to search for other theses: Google Scholar; NDLTD, the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.NDLTD provides information and a search engine for electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), whether they are open access or not. Proquest Theses and Dissertations (PQDT), a database of dissertations and theses, whether they were published ...

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    Several UC campuses have established policies requiring open access to the electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) written by their graduate students. As of March 25, 2020, there is now a systemwide Policy on Open Access for Theses and Dissertations, indicating that UC "requires theses or dissertations prepared at the University to be (1 ...

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    ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. According to ProQuest, coverage begins with 1637. With more than 2.4 million entries, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global is the starting point for finding citations to doctoral dissertations and master's theses. Dissertations published from 1980 forward include 350-word abstracts written by the author.

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    Includes full text UGA dissertations & theses Fall 2019 - current, plus full text for some UGA dissertations pre-2000 . Note: Some authors restrict access to their electronic thesis or dissertation for 2 years after graduation. During this period, some theses and dissertations may be either completely restricted or limited to on-campus use.

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    For those early on in their dissertation-writing process, a committee meeting is also a valuable opportunity to set parameters. "One of the problems with the excitement for the discipline that happens post-quals is that it results in too many ideas," says Director Soracco. Your committee members should give you input on productive research ...

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  23. Yinan Sun Defends Her Dissertation "Exploring Cultural Affordances on

    Congratulations to Yinan Sun for passing her dissertation defense on Thursday, May 9, 2024! Title of Dissertation: Exploring Cultural Affordances on WeChat Abstract: How social media, culture, and ordinary people as users influence each other is probably one of the most intriguing questions for scholars in the field of social media studies. To respond to […]

  24. Neuroscientist Receives 2024 Harold N. Glassman Distinguished

    Andrew Speidell (G'16, G'22), an alumnus of the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, was honored with the prestigious Harold N. Glassman Distinguished Dissertation Award at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences' 2024 Doctoral Hooding Ceremony. The award recognizes students who successfully defended their dissertations in 2023 in three categories: humanities, sciences and social ...

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  26. Dissertation Fieldwork Grants : Graduate School : UMass Amherst

    Dissertation Fieldwork Grants. These grants of up to $5,000 provide support for fieldwork expenses. For the purpose of this grant, fieldwork is defined as data collection that takes place for an extended period of time (e.g. weeks or months) outside the western Massachusetts geographical area. These grants are not designed to fund data analysis ...

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  28. 2024 Best Doctoral Dissertation Advances Geotechnical Earthquake

    Sumeet Kumar Sinha is this year's recipient of the University of California, Davis, College of Engineering Zuhair A. Munir Award for Best Doctoral Dissertation. The award recognizes the methods, findings and significance of Sinha's research, which featured several first-of-its-kind approaches and analyses in the field of geotechnical earthquake ...

  29. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction. Published on September 7, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on November 21, 2023. The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation, appearing right after the table of contents.Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction on a relevant ...