Lesson S-6

UMI Dissertation Abstracts--
to find doctoral dissertations
in all fields

UMI/ProQuest Digital Dissertations is the most authoritative database for information regarding doctoral dissertations and master’s theses from over 1,000 graduate schools and universities.  Coverage of dissertation information began in 1861 with only reference citations.  However, since 1980 it has included searchable abstracts of doctoral dissertations, and since 1988 carried abstracts of theses.  Full texts of more than one million dissertations and theses can be ordered in paper and microfilm formats from the vendor. 

  • UMI/ProQuest has broad and deep coverage of dissertations and theses in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.
  • Each year presents in full text two award-winning entrees to the Council Graduate Schools/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award contest.  Winning entrees are rotated between the two areas of humanities & social sciences and the natural sciences & engineering.
  • It has two ways of doing searches.  There is the regular search with basic and advance features that uses author, keyword, subject, etc. fields.  There is the “browse” search that allows searches according to subject or discipline headings.
  • GWU automatically submits approved dissertations, with very few exceptions.  Submission of theses is on a voluntary, and according to the school’s discretion.  For more information on how to submit a dissertation or a thesis electronically, please see “UMI’s Guidelines for Submitting Electronic Theses and Dissertations” at http://wwwlib.umi.com/dissertations/about_etds.
  • UMI/ProQuest is often referred to as “ProQuest Digital Dissertations” except a few instances.
  • UMI/ProQuest provides full text for a fee.  Although in its “About ProQuest Digital Dissertations” it refers you to free downloadable full text, in reality most universities do not subscribe to this service.
  • Most, but not all universities and graduate schools, submit dissertations and theses to this service.  For instance, Harvard does not.  In their listings, UMI/ProQuest would give a dissertation or thesis number if they have the text or state that they do not carry it.
Trail Guide

The following suggestions and resources will help you get started using UMI/ProQuest.

  1. GWU students can access UMI Dissertation Abstracts from on-campus computers by going to Gelman Library's home page at www.gwu.edu/gelman.  Click on " Databases" and select "ALADIN 'Article and Other Databases'".  Then click on "Alphabetical List" and then on "Dissertation Abstracts International".

  3. When doing an author, title, keyword or any type of field search, make sure to provide all the requested information.

  5. There are several ways to obtain a copy of a dissertation or thesis.  In order from the fastest to slowest:



    a) Electronically formated dissertations and theses can be readily ordered downloaded.  Texts would be in PDF or TIFF images.  Texts available electronically are dissertations and theses published since 1997.  The price is $21.50 per text, excluding state and local taxes, payable by credit card only.

    b) You can also order a hard copy from UMI.  Prices range from $29.95 for an unbound paper copy that is sent within five to seven days by priority mail, to $46.00 for a hardcover bound copy that takes about three to four weeks weeks.  Microfiche or 35mm film copies can also be purchased from UMI for $34.50 per text.  Delivery time for microfiche or film copies is about three weeks.  Orders can be placed online, by phone, fax or mail.  Payment for hard copy orders can be made using credit card, check or money order.  Mail orders and payments to: Bell & Howell, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI  48106.

    c) You can also purchase an unbound paper copy at a reduced rate through Dissertation Express, a service offered to students and faculty of GWU.  To place an order through Dissertation Express, go to the Interlibrary Loan Window located at the far end of Gelman Library, first floor, near the copy machines.  The window is open from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  (Hours do vary by semester, so check the posted times).  Fill out the order form with the dissertation or thesis publication number.  During off-hours you may submit the completed form at the drop box.  Orders are usually processed within three to five days.  The cost is $10.00 each for the first five texts per semester per student/faculty member, and $21.50 for each subsequent text.  There are no page length limits.  Dissertation Express will deliver your order in about three to five business days.

  7. You can also borrow paper copies of dissertations and theses.  If the dissertation or thesis comes from a Washington Regional Library Consortium-institution, then follow the procedures for borrowing from a Consortium institution.  The request is processed in about a week, and you will receive notification by phone when the dissertation is ready for pick-up.  If the dissertation comes from a non-Consortium institution, place a request at the Interlibrary Loan Window.  It would take about three to five weeks to process the request, depending on distance and availability.
First Aid

If you encounter trouble when doing UMI/ProQuest searches, review the Trail Guides again.  For more complex searches, it may be easier to use the “Advanced” search option (click on the tab above the search statement dialog box instead of the default “Basic” search.  If you still need help, ask for assistance from a reference librarian.  Assistance in searches, orders, etc. is also provided by the vendor (Bell and Howell) from Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time at 1-800-521-3042.  Also they can be reached by fax at 1-734-662-4554 or by email at tsupport@umi.com

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Last Update: October 5, 2000 Link to the George Washington UniversitySend feedbackLink to Education Policy Page