Finding Dissertations & Theses

In the last two months I have been working on a tutorial that incorporates an audio component. The Instructional Technology Resource Center or ITRC helped me download Adobe Presenter software, which allows me to add audio to a PowerPoint Presentation. They allow faculty and staff on campus to publish these audio presentations to their servers.

It really was not as difficult as I feared that it would be. I created a tutorial on finding dissertations and theses at Idaho State University: http://breeze1.isu.edu/dissertations. It begins with a brief overview of the the ProQuest database, Dissertations and Theses–A&I, which can really be a useful source for finding graduate studies on all kinds of subjects. Abstracts and full citations appear with other information, such as the names of committee members. They also provide options for purchasing a copy in various formats, beginning at $34.00. It is a good place to start when doing graduate research and discovering research that has already been done, so you do not duplicate your efforts.

Then I go through the steps of securing a dissertation via Interlibrary Loan. Colleagues in the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) department like to emphasize that a thesis or dissertation is considered a book, and requesters need to remember this.

Not all institutions allow their theses and dissertations to be borrowed; however, researchers do have the opportunity to purchase a copy through the Dissertation Service. They just need to fill out a Purchase a Thesis/Dissertation Form. A photocopy of the book will be made and sent to the proper persons; their university account will be billed $29.00.

Finally, I conclude the tutorial with tips on how to found in-house theses and dissertations at ISU’s Oboler Library. The Library’s catalog still serves as a great tool (and probably the only tool) for browsing ISU’s theses and dissertations online. Using keywords such as “thesis ‘idaho state’” will allow anyone to browse all the theses and dissertations. It so happens that even for the dissertations the keyword “thesis” works, since the bibliographic record contains a note, saying it is a “Thesis” for a doctoral degree, or a doctoral thesis.

If grad students or faculty want to limit the results to a specific department, then they can just add the name of that department to the Keyword Boolean or Quick search: “thesis ‘idaho state’ anthropology.” This will retrieve more results than a search on the subject heading. For example, “Dissertations, Academic–Idaho State University. Dept. of Political Science” will only retrieve 21 results, yet a Keyword Boolean search for “thesis and ‘idaho state’ and ‘political science’” will yield 60 results. The subject headings are still relatively new, so if you also want the older titles written by former students I recommend this second search.

The tutorial, “How Can I Find Dissertations: Using ISU’s Resources to Conduct More Exhaustive Research” lasts for twelve minutes and thirty-two seconds (12:32). Take a look at it and let me know what you think.

This article was contributed by Spencer Jardine, Coordinator of Instruction at Oboler Library. He frequently writes about research, reference and instruction skills on his blog, Information Literacy at ISU.

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