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Evaluating Resources: Dissertations


Dissertations, doctoral studies, project studies, capstones, and theses are all student-produced works that present and discuss an individual's research.

Note: While dissertations are definitely scholarly and are reviewed and edited before publication, they do not go through a peer-review process, and thus, aren't considered peer-reviewed sources.

Identify dissertations

A distinguishing characteristic of dissertations is that they generally start with a cover page.

Dissertation reference citations are perhaps the easiest citations to recognize; they include the words doctoral dissertation right in the citation! They also contain:

  • Database name: For dissertations that are downloaded from a database, the database name is included. This is generally the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database.
  • Publication number: In ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database, this is the Dissertation/Thesis Number.


In APA 7th, dissertations retrieved from the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database generally follow this format:

Author. (Year). Title of dissertation (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation, University]. Database Name.


Here is an example:

Burley, M. A. (2009). Working for social change: Using student-centered instructional designs to improve achievement. (Publication No. 3379796) [Doctoral dissertation, Walden University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.


Note: Not all dissertation reference citations will follow this format exactly. If you have questions about citing a capstone using APA style, please contact the Writing Center.


The first page of a dissertation or doctoral study may contain:

  • university name - for example, Walden University
  • college name - for example, College of Nursing
  • type of degree - dissertation or doctoral study
  • author
  • committee member names
  • year completed