When writing a dissertation, the goal of creating original, scholarly research is to add to the body of knowledge. Your first step, therefore, should be to make sure that your proposed study is unique.
You can accomplish this by searching for dissertations similar to your proposed topic in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) database. PQDT is the largest single repository of graduate dissertations and theses, with over 3.8 million works from universities worldwide. Use advanced search techniques covered in Searching 101 like subject searching, truncation, and Boolean operators to make your search more precise. You may also read about these search techniques by referring to the Preparing to Search section of our Research Process Guide.
For example, if you are studying the perceptions of elementary school teachers on the inclusive classroom, you could setup the search as shown below:
Researching similar dissertations is not only a way to ensure that you will be contributing original research to the field, but also a great way to see examples of how other students conducted a literature review and used a particular research methodology. Additionally, you can potentially identify a particular test instrument or theoretical framework appropriate for your study, as well as discover scholarly research articles that you may not have come across in your own research.
For additional guidance on using ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, see the following:
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses offers five Look ups or browsable indexes, so you can easily find spelling or format variations of, for example, an author's name or a subject name. You can find the Look up links in the advanced search page and they are available for the following searchable fields: Author, Advisor, Subjectname, Index term and School name. For a description of these fields, please see the Searchable fields table to the right.
Note: Look ups are also available from the Command Line search (through the Look up terms link).
To use and locate a Look up or browsable index, select the field from the Advanced Search pull-down menu. If a Look up is available, under the search row you will see a link to the Look up. Other Look ups and browsable indexes will be listed in the Limit To section of the Advanced Search page.
Select the Look up link and then you will see a browsable and alphabetical index for that field. There are some indexes that will not display an alphabetical list before searching for the term, rather you will have to enter a term first, and then the alphabetical list of matches will display.
Once you locate the index term that you would like to add to your search, mark the item, and then click the Add to search button. The index term will now appear in the advanced search form along with the appropriate pull-down menu selection.