How can I get a copy of a dissertation that I need for my research?

closed as off-topic by user2768, MJeffryes, corey979, Solar Mike, scaaahu Jan 23 at 11:12

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The answer to this question strongly depends on individual factors such as a certain person’s preferences, a given institution’s regulations, the exact contents of your work or your personal values. Thus only someone familiar can answer this question and it cannot be generalised to apply to others. (See this discussion for more info.)" – user2768, MJeffryes, corey979, Solar Mike, scaaahu
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Go to a good library and check what they have on offer... – Solar Mike Jan 23 at 11:03
  • Libraries generally try to keep them forever. My PhD thesis is entirely digital and available online, but it was required to print one copy for long term preservation as a last resort in case pdfs go extinct. – Thomas Jan 23 at 11:16
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    In the US, many universities required (and may still) that dissertations be catalogued by Proquest, which used to use the name University Microfilms: proquest.com/products-services/dissertations. You can order reprints from them. But they aren't free. Libraries may be able to get you a temporary copy for free. – Buffy Jan 23 at 11:51
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    Disagree with "hold". The question is a little awkwardly written between title and question, but other than that seems very on topic. General academic question. Good one. Buffy's comment in particular is the core of a good answer. – guest Jan 23 at 12:53
  • The latest edit makes the question unclear. Are you interested in how long a university library typically keeps copies of theses? Or are you interested in how you'd go about getting hold of some old thesis? – Anyon Jan 23 at 14:20

I suspect that that differs from university to university, and country to country, but I would not be surprised if the answer is "for as long as they can preserve the paper". I remember finding the master's thesis of my (fairly old) teacher when I was a high-school student.

On the other hand, it may be the policy of some university / library to digitalize them (or in the old days, to put them on microfilm) after a given amount of time to save space in the library. This depends on how much money / time they have for that effort, and how much space they have in the library. It is easy to imagine huge differences between universities and countries in these different costs, resulting in different policies.

Regardless, you should expect that people will be able to find your dissertation for as long as you live (and afterwards).

  • There are digitizing programs going on in many libraries to prolong the existence of many documents... And just been to the British Library to locate the thesis of one of my Professors - done in 1987 and it is there... – Solar Mike Jan 23 at 11:00
  • In Germany: Forever, unless the library burns down, and since you have to hand in many copies you should be able to locate an issue. Use worldcat.org to locate copies worldwide. And yes, please re-open the question. – Debora Weber-Wulff Jan 23 at 20:01

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