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Key Resources for Locating and Writing Dissertations

For many students charged with the task of writing their dissertation, the mere thought of tackling such a demanding and intense undertaking is enough to induce a panic attack. While the idea of waking up one day with a completed and superlative dissertation may seem closer to a dream than a reality at the outset of the dissertation writing experience, there are many resources available to help you through this long and arduous process. If you currently find yourself embarking on the journey of writing your dissertation, or plan to in the near future, this blog entry is especially for you!

To see what dissertations have been completed is a three step process:

* Search comprehensive databases for dissertations,
* Look at the subject databases for your discipline, and
* Look at UAlbany dissertations

The University Libraries has access to many dissertations in electronic form. The Dissertations @ SUNY Albany database provides access to dissertations written by former UAlbany students. This database provides full-text access to dissertations written from 1997 to present and abstracts of dissertations from 1988 to present. (Note: Check the MINERVA catalog for print and/or microform copies of UAlbany dissertations from all years.)

The other resource is Dissertations & Theses. Unlike Dissertations @ SUNY Albany, which only contains dissertations written by former members of UAlbany, Dissertations & Theses contains dissertations written by students from schools across the country. Complete full text access is not avaialable for non UAlbany dissertations, but many records include the first 25 pages, and there is abstracting from 1980 to present. (Note: Check the MINERVA catalog to see if we own dissertations. If not, submit a request to Interlibrary Loan.)

Depending on your area of study, the University Libraries provide access to databases that allow you to search for dissertations in order to see what have been written on a particular topic. The following is a list of subject areas and the databases that index dissertations on those areas:

Criminal Justice:
Criminal Justice Abstracts
National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts Database
Sociological Abstracts)

Information Studies:
Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text
ERIC
INSPEC

Social Welfare:
Social Work Abstracts
Social Services Abstracts
Sociological Abstracts

Political Science, Public Administration & Policy, and Law:
CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts

Another resource available to students writing their dissertations is the subject specialist for each area of research. Throughout the University Libraries, there are Librarians that specialize in all the major subject areas and are available by appointment to help you devise a search strategy. The names, locations, and contact information for each subject specialist can be found on the Subject Specialist page within the University Libraries website.

There are numerous style guides and advice books that provide valuable insight and counsel on the entire dissertation-writing experience. The following are just a small sample of the many style guides and advice books available through the University Libraries:

Calabrese, Raymond L. Elements of an effective dissertation and thesis a step-by-step guide to getting it right the first time. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
University Library / Reference LB 2369 C275 2006

Lyons, Peter. The dissertation from beginning to end. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010
University Library / HV 11 L963 2010

Mauch, James E. Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation a handbook for students and faculty. New York: M. Dekker, 2003.
Dewey Library / Reference LB 2369 M377 2003

Miller, Alison B. Finish your dissertation once and for all! how to overcome psychological barriers, get results, and move on with your life. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009.
University Library / LB 2369 M454 2009

For information about submitting dissertations, please visit the Graduate Studies Office for Dissertation Submittal Policies and Guidelines.

Blog post created by Matthew Laudicina