This is the long-awaited 3rd post in the series on how to build one's bibliography for research by using online resources. In my previous posts, I have suggested how one could effectively search for books and journals online.
In this post, I will highlight some suggestions on how searches for theses and dissertations could easily be carried out in regions covering the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australasia.
Theological Research and Exchange Network – This is an extensive database covering North American Masters and Doctoral (mainly Doctor of Ministry) dissertations. Theses can be purchased at reasonable price and are available in pdf format (for immediate download) and Microfiche.
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Services – This is a massive database containing more than 1.9 million North American Doctoral dissertations. Free search available only for past 2 years' dissertations. The most useful feature is the first 24-page free preview of the thesis, and this is essentially what one needs most of the time - the table of contents! Subscription required to search the entire database.
Theses Canada - Availability to search AMICUS, Canada's national online catalogue, for bibliographic records of all theses in Library and Archives Canada's theses collection, which was established in 1965. The most useful feature of Theses Canada programme is the availability to access and search the full text electronic versions of numerous Canadian theses and dissertations (no kidding - and it is FREE! I have downloaded several theses from this database).
British Thesis Services – This is a database maintained by the British Library. Search for theses accepted for higher degrees by universities in Great Britain and Ireland. However, the cost of purchasing the thesis can be rather prohibitive at times.
Aslib Index to Thesis - A comprehensive listing of theses with abstracts accepted for higher degrees by universities in Great Britain and Ireland. By subscription only.
Australasian Digital Theses (ADT) Project Database - Search all theses accepted for higher degrees by universities in Australasia. This is a fairly recent project, and theses in theology and religious studies are still quite limited in number. But the good news is that if you can find one thesis that is closely related to your research, it is FREELY available in pdf format. I managed to download a couple of theses from this database.
If one is able to search carefully and comprehensively all the above databases, he or she should comfortably have a credible list of both unpublished or published theses and a fairly good grasp of the trend of research in one's field of interest.
Coming up next...how to search for papers presented in international conferences...this is a bit more difficult and tricky...