I am a graduate student at a US university. One of the papers I need for my research is a Ph.D. thesis, owned by the University of Birmingham, U.K. (but this question is for a more general case). That thesis has never been published and is not available on the web. When searching for that paper on the University of Birmingham library website, they only have the hard copy of that paper in their library. Is there a way that I can obtain that paper?

  • Ask your friend. – SmallChess May 29 '18 at 1:43
  • @SmallChess If I knew anybody studying there, I'd have asked already. – A Slow Learner May 29 '18 at 1:46
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    A dissertation must be published, in the UK and anywhere in the world. It might not be available any more, if it's old. And, sorry for asking: Have you written an email to the Library in Birmingham? – Karl May 29 '18 at 17:14

If the thesis is recent enough that it would have been written electronically, you can try to locate the author and ask if they would be able to send you an electronic copy. This is a reasonable request.

Otherwise, talk to a librarian at your university library. They almost certainly have some sort of inter-library loan that can get you a copy, or access to the original. Requests like this are part of their job and this is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask them to help with.


Requesting a copy of the PhD thesis from an author?

Is it okay to ask someone for an (electronic) copy of their PhD thesis if it is not available online?

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  • "Ask the author" is a surprisingly very successful technique for getting hard-to-retrieve articles: most authors actually want their work to be read and are happy to share it on personal request. The hard part, sometimes, is finding a current email address for the author (especially for older articles, but that is probably not the case with the OP). – Tripartio May 30 '18 at 11:02

I think the British Library can provide any PhD thesis from a UK university, even if no electronic copy has been stored in a library. See http://ethos.bl.uk/

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  • Not necessarily. The very first one I looked at told me that Ethos doesn't have the full text and I would need to contact the university's library. – Peter Taylor May 30 '18 at 13:41

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