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Theses and Dissertations: Finding Guide

SDSU Theses & Dissertations: Home

About Theses & Dissertations

Thesis and dissertations share many similarities, as they both involve advanced level research writing. However, they refer to two different types of academic work, with differences encompassing such aspects as scope, purpose, length, and research requirements. Fundamentally:

  • A thesis presents arguments based upon existing research. Typically written by Master's students.
  • A dissertation pushes further into analysis and research.
    • Involves contributing to existing knowledge and identifying a gap in existing research.
    • gap in the literature is an area within an academic discipline that has not yet been studied, at least not in-depth. Most fields have undiscovered territory, and it’s the job of the researcher to mine these unexplored ideas to open up new lines of inquiry.

SDSU Theses & Dissertations can be found in our book stacks and online. Material published after 2010 is only available online

Why Look for a Theses or Dissertation?

Looking at theses or dissertations can provide insight into how one is structured and written, as well as provide you with some context for what you are working towards. Theses and dissertations can be a valuable source of information for research, offering the following benefits:

  • Just like journal articles, conference proceedings, and other forms of literature, they present original research. Recently completed theses can provide "sneak previews" of ideas and findings that have yet to reach the public via other publication formats.
  • They may be the only publicly-available work by authors who do not otherwise publish for general audiences or through commercial publishers.
  • They contain extensive bibliographies.
  • They provide inspiration for the formatting and presentation of ideas, graphs, charts, and other components of a document.
  • They provide insight into the early work of a particular person and have value for historical and biographical purposes.