Thesis diving, more valuable than dumpster diving...

Oct 12 2012 Published by under Grad School, Publishing

Recently I have found immense value on reading theses from past students in other labs and institutions, who have worked on a research topic that is similar to my own.  While it can be a pain in the ass to get their doctoral thesis if they are not on ProQuest, they are usually quite informative.  As I have seen their thesis's are much more detailed about their methods and experimental analysis compared to their publications.  Also some of these theses contain a wealth of unpublished data that can support your own preliminary data or start to give you an idea if you are pumping money down a dry hole.

How often do you folks read theses that aren't from your own labs or students on your committees?

11 responses so far

  • Namnezia says:

    I only read theses from friends and other lab folks. I don't think anyone's ever looked at my thesis though. I feel like it's hidden in some basement shelf in the library, like the ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark lost in a crate in a military warehouse (except my thesis won't melt your face off if you open it).

    • boatbuilder says:

      I needed an M.S. thesis from 1923 once, because it had the original description of a species that received very little work later. A friend of mine worked at the institution which absorbed the college where that M.S. had been done, so I asked her if she could get it... told me later that she had to go to an archive/warehouse building which was full of bins of old documents from the defunct college which were only partially organized.

  • Pat says:

    I read a bunch of theses related to my interests during my graduate studies in order to have more details about methods and experimental analysis. Sometimes, theses were easier to understand than published papers 🙂

    However, I have to admit that I now only read theses coming from my lab or from students on my committees..

  • Bashir says:

    I don't have a rhyme or reason to it. Some times a thesis will pop up on my google searches. There seems to be a fair number of dissertations written in my area that don't end up being published elsewhere.

  • Drugmonky says:


  • chall says:

    I read a lot of thesises (sp?) when I wsa a graduate student. Granted, most of them from the group and the department and Swedish unis since many of them have an easy accessable format with a "summary" in the beginning... about 40-100 pages, and then the actual papers after that.

    Nowadays? Not really.

  • DJMH says:

    I use my graduate thesis every day. Two copies of it are supporting my computer monitor.

  • whizbang says:

    I have lovely bound theses sitting on my shelf. I have not opened them, although all were read prior to publication.
    I think I accessed a thesis several years ago (along with some papers from the 1920s).

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