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Digital Dissertations
Table of Contents:

What is Digital Dissertations?
Digital Dissertations by ProQuest/UMI is a tool to help you find references to dissertations written in all subject areas. Locate the Digital Dissertations online database on the Libraries' home page ( by clicking Article Indexes, then General Indexes (or D in Alphabetical Listings), then Digital Dissertations. This is the online equivalent to an index the library no longer receives, Dissertation Abstracts International (Wilson Reference Z5053 .D57, ended 1999).

What's in Digital Dissertations?
The Digital Dissertations index has citations to dissertations and theses from over 1,000 universities. Doctoral dissertations are included from almost all North American graduate schools and many European universities. Masters theses represented are selective. Coverage: 1861 - present (it usually takes about one term from submission to inclusion in the database). Abstracts (short synopses) are available for
*doctoral theses beginning in 1980
*masters theses beginning in 1988
Some dissertations, beginning with 1997 publication dates, are available digitally. If the dissertation is by a University of Minnesota author or an author from a CIC University, current University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff can download it at no charge (see below). If you want an immediate copy of a non-University of Minnesota or non-CIC dissertation, you may have to purchase it. Otherwise, you can borrow it via interlibrary loan (ILL).

Searching Digital Dissertations, Some Hints

The default search is a keyword search of both title and abstract in both masters and doctoral theses.
  • In the Advanced Search - Build Query box:,

    To search just masters theses, search disdb(mai) and your search term
    To search just doctoral theses, search disdb(dai) and your search term
  • Truncation
    End a word with ? to search all possible endings
  • Boolean and Proximity Operators
    	and		both terms
    	or		either term
    	not		first term but not second
    	w/n		first term within n characters of second
    	pre/n		first term precedes second by n characters
  • Parentheses
    Use parentheses for exact phrases and complex searches
    (cross country skiing)
  • Examples

    In the Advanced Search Build Query box:

  • title (anatomy) and not school (university of minnesota) This search will result in papers with the term anatomy in the title which were written at places other than the University of Minnesota.

  • keyword ((cross country or nordic) and skiing)

  • intelligent w/10 buildings will find 'intelligent buildings' and 'buildings that are intelligent'

  • military pre/1 weapons will only find 'military weapons'
Field Searching
This database is searchable by fields. To search this way, type in the field tag (either fully spelled out or abbreviated as shown in Digital Dissertation's online help) followed by the search term in parentheses.
  • Some Useful Fields
    Field Abbr Example Notes
    abstract ab ab(impressionism) --
    advisor ad ad(Jones, Robert) --
    author au au(Nolte) --
    date da da(1990:1995), da(>1970); da(<1985)This is the date of the degree.
    degreedg dg(PHD) Schools may have different names and acronyms for their degrees.
    language la la(french) For dissertations in foreign languages prior to 1988, see online help.
    school sc sc(University of Minnesota) or by school code
    [see online help for list] 0130=UMN
    subject su su(Speech Communication) or by subject code su (0459) [see online help for lists]
    title ti ti(norwegian and art)--
    year year year(1998) --
  • CIC School Codes

    School School CodeTotal Dissertations
    as of 1/27/04
    Total Available Online 1997-2003
    University of Minnesota sc(0130) 27,609 4,228
    University of Michigan sc(0127) 31,610 4,164
    see also School of Public Health sc(0766)
    Michigan State University sc(0128) 27,598 4,216
    University of Iowa sc(0096) 15,9572,030
    University of Wisconsin-Madisonsc(0262) 37,143 4,412
    University of Illinois sc(0090) 33,067 4,160
    see also U of I at Chicago sc(0799)
    see also U of I Health Sciences Center sc(0806)
    Indiana University sc(0093) 19,188 2,357
    Ohio State University sc(0168)28,960 3,827
    Northwestern University sc(0163) 15,768 2,085
    Purdue University sc(0183)20,097 2,432
    Pennsylvania State University sc(0176)19,521 3,435
    University of Chicago sc(0330)35,198 2,450
Combining sets in searches (In the Advanced Search - Build Query box)
Results for each search are displayed as sets, which can be combined for further searching (see Refine Search at the bottom of a search results page and click on search history).
  • Search terms can be put into the Build Query box by clicking on the ADD button to the left of the set number column
  • Use the number sign (#) before each set if you type the set number in, e.g., #3 and #4
  • You can combine a set and a new term, e.g., #3 and title(education)
  • The search history tab automatically combines searches with �and. � To use �or� or �and not,� instead, type one of these in or use the pull-down menu near the top of the Search History tab (located above the set # column).
  • Some sample searches

    #1educational administration= 1382
    #2school(university of minnesota)= 27656
    #3#1 and #2= 21
    The subject code 0514 is for education administration
    = 59056
    #5#4 and #2= 849
    #6#5 and da(>1990)= 335
    #7#6 and secondary= 42
To Print, E-mail, or Download, Make A Marked List

To mark a thesis, put a check mark in the box next to folder icon on the left side

To see your marked list, click on MARKED LIST near the very top of the page.
From the marked list page, click on print, e-mail or download for output. Citation is the default output format. Use the pull-down menu on the print, e-mail or download page to get to citation + abstract.
  • Print (e.g., via UniPrinter in the library)
  • E-mail-will send your list of marked titles, including abstract if you have specified
  • Download-only on home computers; most theses are larger than one floppy

  • Viewing Theses-Preview
    Some theses are available in Preview. You can view the first twenty-four pages, which include the title page and table of contents.

    What you need to have on your home computer to download a thesis PDF file
    For current University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff, free downloading is available for University of Minnesota and CIC institution theses only, from 1997 onward. (Not all theses from this time may be available for downloading.)
  • Windows 95/98/NT/etc. or Mac (no indication it supports Windows 3.1)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Web Browser (Netscape or MS Internet Explorer)
  • Enough space on your hard drive to accommodate the file. Each thesis could be up to 15 megabytes or more!

  • Downloading a thesis

  • Request via e-mail
  • You immediately are assigned a PIN (personal identification number) on the web page appearing next. The PIN is valid for 72 hours
  • You immediately get a web address (PDF download area) where you can point your browser when the thesis is ready for downloading
  • E-mail is sent to you when the thesis is ready for downloading
  • These files are too large to download onto floppies. The machine you are using must have enough hard drive space to accommodate the thesis you're downloading
  • The download web site has instructions for both Windows 95/98/NT/etc. and Macintosh users

  • For additional information on purchasing and borrowing theses via ILL:
    See "Connect to Digital Dissertations" at

    For information on library locations of University of Minnesota dissertations, see the library guide:
    'How to Find University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertations and Masters Theses', at

    Page Coordinator: Mary E. Schoenborn
    This URL: