Dissertations are typically long, formal written works submitted as a requirement for a doctorate. They can be difficult or time-consuming to obtain but may be worth pursuing in certain situations.

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 (see Ways to find similar material below). Students doing in-depth research for a thesis or term paper may find the specialized content of a dissertation useful.  Dissertations also typically have rather exhaustive bibliographies. Occasionally, for very current topics, a doctoral dissertation may be the only material available in a given area.

How do I get a dissertation?
Before you try to get your hands on a complete dissertation, make sure you have read an 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 obtaining a dissertation:

Online and locally in print
Dissertations and Theses (ProQuest) 
Includes nearly 3 million searchable citations to dissertation and theses from around the world, offering full text for most of the 80,000 new dissertations added each year since 1997 and strong retrospective full-text coverage.
Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD)
Five College Library Catalog contains records for dissertations we've purchased for the collection
Open Access Theses and Dissertations
OATD.org aims to be the best possible resource for finding open access graduate theses and dissertations published around the world. 

If you can't locate an electronic copy of the dissertation, request it via Interlibrary Loan

If you want the Library to purchase a copy, request it via the Request Service.

Ways to find similar material
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.