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Research Guides | Library | Amherst College


What are dissertations?

Dissertations are typically long, formal written works written by doctoral candidates. They cover highly specialized topics and can be challenging to obtain.

Will a dissertation be helpful to my research?

For many papers, a dissertation may be beyond the scope of your research, especially if there are other published materials available on your topic. You might find a dissertation useful if:

  • you are doing in-depth research for a thesis or a term paper
  • your topic is specialized
  • your research focuses on current or cutting edge topics

Dissertations also have exhaustive bibliographies, which makes them useful for identifying related works in your field.

How do I get a dissertation?

Before you try to get a complete dissertation, make sure you have read the abstract to be sure it will be appropriate for your research. Typically, dissertations are only held by the institution for which they were written and may not be available to borrow. Increasingly, dissertations are being made available online. Here are some options for getting a dissertation:

Online and in print locally

Non-local materials

If you can't locate an electronic copy of the dissertation and it isn't available in the Five Colleges, request it via Interlibrary Loan.

Adding to the Library Collection

If you want the Library to purchase a copy to add to our collection, request it via the Request Service and select the "Purchase" option

Finding similar materials

Often, dissertations are re-published as books, book chapters, or journal articles, depending on the discipline. Try searching for the author's name in the Five College Catalog or WorldCat. For articles and chapters, search by author in the appropriate subject database.