What is a dissertation?
A dissertation is an comprehensive piece of research completed by a student in partial fulfilment of
a university graduate degree. A dissertation is completed for a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) degree,
while a thesis is completed for a Masters degree. Both degrees can be earned in any academic discipline.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to identify dissertations (and theses) which you may find while
searching on the web.
1. To find more scholarly information on the web, use Google Scholar which is a subset of the Google
search engine. Complete your search with Google Scholar from inside the VIU Library page.
This will tie your searches to our library and provide access to the full text documents from our collection.
2. The resulting search records usually indicate whether it is referring to a journal article, a book, etc.
Sometimes the information below the title will indicate whether this is a book or a dissertation.
3. Click onto the title to 'jump' into the website, The Rhino Resource Center:
Look for more details somewhere on the page to confirm that this title is a dissertation.
4. The detailed record provides the information you need to cite this dissertation in your reference list.
5. This page also confirms that this document is a dissertation, and that you can access the full text of it by
clicking onto the PDF option.
6. The first page of the full text dissertation should repeat the citation information (title, author, date) ...
7. ... and when you scroll down the page, it should (again) indicate that this document is a dissertation
completed at the University of Arizona. Usually there are other items (e.g. information about the
reproduction/UMI, statement by the Dissertation Committee, statement by the author, acknowledgments,
and a dedication), before arriving at the Table of Contents and the remainder of the document.
Here is the citation example:
Niraj SK. 2009. Sustainable development, poaching, and illegal wildlife trade in India
[dissertation]. [Tucson, Arizona]: University of Arizona. 318 p.
This brief tutorial identifies the characteristics of an online dissertation found on the web.