Skip to Main Content

Dissertations and Project Studies: Use Dissertations for Research

Dissertation/Study Structure

Find an example of a dissertation, doctoral study or project study in your program.

Look at the table of contents to see how the dissertation is structured. Each dissertation is different, but there are some standard expectations for the structure. The chapters will follow a set pattern, and within each chapter you can see how the different elements are organized. You will use the table of contents to identify the location of useful information, such as the literature review or any measurement instruments used.

The table of contents also gives an idea of the length and scope of the dissertation.

   (2 min 34 sec) Transcript

Build your knowledge

The literature review is a comprehensive discussion of the current literature that exists on the topic. If you locate a few dissertations that are related to your own research interests, you can use them to develop a better understanding of current research, theory, and methodology.

In order to find dissertations that are closest to your topic, use the all dissertations search.

Learn more about the literature review process and expectation in our Literature Review guide.

Mine the bibliography

Just as the literature review of a dissertation will discuss all of the relevent literature on a topic, the bibliography will provide the full citations for all of the items mentioned in the dissertation.

You can skim through the bibliography to find articles, books, and other resources that are relevant to your own research. This is an excellent way to discover more articles, and to identify seminal literature.

See the Find Full Text guide to learn how to locate the full text of an item when you have the citation.

Locate an instrument

Dissertation research often utilizes one or more measurement instruments. You can search for dissertations on your topic, and then skim through them to identify useful instruments other researchers have used. Instruments are typically named in the abstract of the dissertation. More information about the instrument will be included in the methodology section.

If you already have an instrument in mind, you can search the dissertations database using the instrument name as a keyword. This will find examples of its use, and in some cases it will even find a copy of the instrument.

If the instrument is printed in a dissertation, you will likely find it in an appendix. Dissertation appendices also include focus group transcripts, permission forms, and other documentation related to the research method used.

Video: Identify Instruments

   (1 min 26 sec) Transcript

Video: Instrument Full Text

   (1 min 46 sec) Transcript