A guest article by Lynne Hartnett, Ph.D., in the history department:
Dissertations and theses have long been important sources for scholarly research. But until recently, few undergraduates utilized these unpublished sources. For most students writing research papers in undergraduate courses, dissertations proved too cumbersome to use and too slow to arrive once ordered. Today this is no longer the case. With the advent of Dissertations and Theses Full Text (ProQuest), scholars and students alike are able to read the vast majority of dissertations written since 1997 online.
With a database of over 2.4 million records, Dissertations and Theses Full Text is an invaluable source for researchers at any level. The search fields include not only author and subject, but also school name, advisor, committee members and department. In addition, the search can be limited by language and publication date, while the results can be sorted by date or relevance. Even students with only a cursory knowledge of the subject can quickly determine the value of a particular source, as each search result includes an abstract and a preview, as well as the full text option.
Last semester, students in my research seminar for history majors found Dissertations and Theses Full Text invaluable. While a few of the students used the dissertations as a source, even more utilized these texts’ extensive bibliographies. Encountering their subjects for the first time, students discovered that these bibliographies provided them with a vast array of credible sources that they could use in their own research. Given the time constraints of an academic semester, access to these dissertations and the utilization of their bibliographies would have been impractical without the full text being available online.
Dr. Lynne Hartnett
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