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OBTAINING COPIES OF DISSERTATIONS:  SOME COMMON QUESTIONS

Can I request a copy of a dissertation through Interlibrary Loan?
Yes, although the ease of obtaining it and even its availability for Interlibrary Loan may be determined by the answer to one or more of the following questions:
(1) Will the institution where the dissertation was completed lend a copy either in microform or hard copy?
Many institutions in the United States, currently about 400, submit their dissertations for inclusion in Dissertation Abstracts International. There's a list of "Participating Institutions" in the front of every issue of Dissertation Abstracts International which includes the date at which each institution became a participant in the UMI service. Some institutions which participate in the UMI program will not lend copies of their dissertations completed on or after the date at which they began that participation. The loan of a dissertation completed before that date is determined by individual institutional policies and often depends on whether there is more than one copy of the dissertation in existence. Some institutions, most notably Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Chicago, have retained the right to reproduce and sell copies of dissertations completed at their institutions and generally do not make them available for loan to other institutions.
(2) Has the dissertation been microfilmed by UMI and made commercially available?
The availability of a dissertation through UMI increases the chance that a copy will be available through interlibrary loan, usually from an institution that has purchased a copy rather than from the institution granting the degree.
(3) How do I determine if a copy of a dissertation is available through interlibrary loan from an institution other than the one where the dissertation was completed?
The process is the same as identifying locations where a copy of a book may be held, since libraries purchasing copies of dissertations will catalog them as books. Check in the National Union Catalog (SML, Reference Room, Reference Index Cases) for holding institutions, use the Research Libraries' Information Network (RLIN) through Eureka, and ask at the Reference Desk to have the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) checked as well. If holding institutions cannot be identified through these sources, and the institution where the dissertation was completed will not lend, then the work isn't available through interlibrary loan.
How do I purchase a copy of a dissertation?
Dissertations which appear in Dissertation Abstracts International can be purchased directly from University Microfilms International by:
How do I request that the Library purchase a dissertation?
Speak with or send an e-mail request to the bibliographer responsible for building the Library's collections in the subject area of the dissertation, or send an e-mail request using the online form.

DISSERTATIONS COMPLETED IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY
Dissertations from many foreign universities are held by the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago and are available through interlibrary loan. Specific authors and titles must be known and a printed source of citation must be provided in order for requests to be placed. The CRL catalog is also accessible over the Internet, but as a general rule, no individual records for dissertations held are included. The CRL dissertations database can be searched by subject, author, title, translated title, country, institution, language, and year defended..
If not available through the Center for Research Libraries, foreign dissertations can be requested through interlibrary loan, and an attempt to secure a copy for consultation will be made by whatever means is appropriate for the country in question.

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Acknowledgement

This material is based on the Web site created to support a series of colloquia in historical research offered by the Yale University Library. The initial site was prepared in August 1996 by Suzanne Lorimer, Susanne Roberts, Margaret Powell, George Miles, Fred Musto, Emily Horning, Cesar Rodriguez, Nancy Godleski, Richard Williams, Elizabeth Pauk, and Martha Brogan.

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This file last modified 09/28/05
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