Dissertations contain some great research, not to mention extensive reviews of the literature. You will find references to dissertations in databases such as Social Work Abstracts, PsycINFO, and, of course, the literature itself. Getting your hands on these dissertations, however, can often be tricky. Here are some general guidelines for locating and retrieving dissertations.
The Harris Library collection includes Master’s and Ph.D. theses from graduates of MSASS programs. Other Case libraries collect dissertations from a variety of Case departments. You can check to see if a particular dissertation is in a Case library by doing a search for the title or author in the online catalog. You can also search by keyword (topic) and then limit your search to material type of “Thesis/Diss.” In most cases, dissertations are for “In Library Use” only.
University Microfilms, Inc. (UMI) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is the most complete repository for doctoral dissertations. Their database of titles is known as ProQuest Digital Dissertations and Theses or Dissertation Abstracts. It is available to Case affiliated students, faculty and staff through the Library Catalog’s Research Databases (click on “Dissertations”).
You can search in the dissertation database by author, title, keyword, advisor, school, degree date and other fields. Each entry will allow you to view the complete citation and abstract for that title. In addition, Case’s subscription to ProQuest Digital Dissertations allows you to preview the first twenty-four pages of dissertations with a publication date of 1997 or later. Titles can be marked by clicking on the “Marked Folder” button and then exported later in the search. Items that you wish to purchase can be added to the “Shopping Cart.”
Another database that you can try for dissertations from Ohio universities is the OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertation Center. It began in 2001, but there are also some dissertations from the 1990s as well. Most dissertations in this database are available in free electronic full-text.
Actually getting your hands on the dissertation once you have identified titles can be problematic (unless money is no object). Usually the degree-granting institution only owns one copy of a student’s dissertation and will not allow it to circulate. The Harris Library will try to obtain a copy through Interlibrary Loan, but the success rate (especially from libraries outside of Ohio) is slim. Questions about Interlibrary Loan can be addressed to email@example.com or phone (216) 368-2302.
If you just have to have a dissertation, you can order it through UMI/Proquest directly through the Dissertation Abstracts database. Prices for direct ordering from UMI/Proquest range from free for some direct access online (PDF) to $66 for a hardbound copy. To get direct access online, you need to register or “checkout” even if it is free. An e-mail will then be sent to you when the dissertation is ready with instructions on how to download it. The process for printing can be lengthy depending on the size of the dissertation.