I have recently defended my Ph.D. dissertation and submitted it to my graduate school's e-repository of scholarly works as well as to the ProQuest database. I have not heard yet from ProQuest about the respective publication, but my work appeared blazingly fast in my school's repository, which is great, as I already can cite it in my CV and elsewhere, where appropriate.

As I understand the terminology in the area, dissertation or thesis, submitted to ProQuest (or another scholarly database, for that matter) is referred to as published. On the other hand, the same document, submitted to university's e-repository or similar archive, is referred to as unpublished. Also, while I expect the ProQuest to assign a DOI to my work, my university's e-repository doesn't seem to include this step. Considering all the above-mentioned information, I am curious about the following:

  • What is the optimal strategy for maintaining and citing both unpublished and published versions of my dissertation? Since the published (ProQuest) version will not be available to people, lacking access to ProQuest, does it make sense to maintain and cite both versions, so that other interested people will be able to access and cite the unpublished version?

  • What is the optimal strategy for assigning DOI to my dissertation report (either to both versions, or to the unpublished, if ProQuest will assign DOI to the published one)?

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    As I understand the terminology in the area, dissertation or thesis, submitted to ProQuest (or another scholarly database, for that matter) is referred to as published. — I've never heard this distinction before. In its raw etymology, "published" merely means "made public". Some people (and fields) would consider a thesis available only as a paper copy in your university library, or only as a PDF from your web page, to be "published". Others would not consider a ProQuest version "published", because it hasn't been reviewed by an editor.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 22:00
  • @JeffE: Thank you for your comment. I agree with it and, actually, I now cite my dissertation (i.e., in my CV) as an "unpublished doctoral dissertation" (which is what APA Style recommends). Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 2:35
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    I would (and do) omit the adjective "unpublished", and just list it as your PhD dissertation. If you later publish it as a book, then you can list it as a book. But the correct protocol probably depends on your field; ask your advisor. (In my field, almost nobody reads PhD theses—and some people don't even list their PhD thesis in their CV—because thesis results are normally published in conference and journal papers, often before the thesis itself.)
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 12:31
  • @JeffE: I appreciate your latest comment - very useful information. I do not plan to publish my dissertation as is as a book. Instead, I plan to convert it into several research papers; plus an additional paper will cover my research software. In the longer term, I plan to create a more comprehensive coverage of the topic or, even, larger subject domain, both theoretically and experimentally, and publish all that material in a form of either a book (preferably), or, at least, a chapter. Does this plan makes sense to you? Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 12:39

2 Answers 2


You should avoid citing it twice, because it's the same work (think of it as a book published by two different publishers - you wouldn't cite both versions). Whether you prefer to cite it with a ProQuest DOI or with a link to the university repository is up to you, though possibly a given journal may have an opinion on which they prefer. Depending on how formal the citation style is, you could do something like:

  • Bleckh, A (2015). ProQuest citation; DOI. Copy available from [repository]

which would let you use both access methods.

For DOIs, it's unlikely that your repository will assign a DOI to their version - most repositories aren't set up to issue DOIs. The repository is intended as an alternative way to access it rather than a different publication, and so material hosted by a repository tends to give the bibliographic details of the "real version" rather than provide their own.

(Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "maintaining" - are you envisaging updating it over time? This would be quite unusual for a doctoral thesis...)

  • Thank you for your insights (+1; acceptance is pending, based on potential feedback from others). I didn't mean to use both citations within the same referencing document, but one of each, based on that document's audience and its assumed access. Your suggested combined citation makes sense, but I want to hear more opinions from people here to make up my mind. In regard to "maintaining", I implied similar meaning as "citing", not updating the document - I will remove the confusing and unnecessary word from the question. Commented May 3, 2015 at 17:43
  • In regard to DOI, I could consider posting my dissertation to Figshare, which, as far as I know, assigns DOIs to all artifacts. Then, I would simply prefer citing the Figshare's version to the one from my unversity's e-repository. Commented May 3, 2015 at 17:45
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    Is there a pressing need to have a DOI rather than a URL/URI? The figshare approach would certainly work, but putting three copies out there might confuse people - if you do this I'd recommend including a coversheet on the figshare version pointing to the other two copies and clarifying that the content of the thesis itself is the same. Commented May 3, 2015 at 18:18
  • Not a "pressing need", certainly. I'm just exploring options. Thank you for all suggestions. Commented May 3, 2015 at 18:32

Regarding strategy for assigning a DOI, my personal preference is to use my university library's repository for that. I prefer to use my own university's repository as the canonical source of bibliographic information about my publications to remain maximally in control of it. My university library happens to be able to assign DOIs. I realise that not all repositories do this and in that case, I would recommend using a repository such as figshare or Zenodo because they provide open access to the published material and you retain your copyright. It seems ProQuest offers the latter but not the former. A special case where one has to be careful is if you do not own the copyright to all of your thesis. This was the case for my own thesis which consists partly of papers for which Springer and IEEE own the copyright. They allowed publication on my university's own repository but I could only post the introduction on figshare, because that implied CC-BY licensing.

  • Thank you for the answer (+1) - your insights are helpful. As I said in comments above, I was considering figshare and Zenodo repositories (and actually use Zenodo to assign DOI to software that I've developed for my dissertation data analysis - though it's a bit tricky - I will post a separate question on the issue). I just checked and found out that ProQuest didn't assign DOI to my dissertation. Since my school's e-repository didn't either, the issue remains, but it's not a high priority one. Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 2:38
  • BTW, while ProQuest doesn't assign DOI, it does assign ISBN. While ISBN is focused on physical products (books, journals, etc.) rather than their digital counterparts, I just read about the existence of a service for "mapping" between DOI and ISBN systems, called ISBN-A ("actionable ISBN"). Unfortunately, ProQuest seems not to be using the service. Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 2:57

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