When writing a dissertation, the goal of creating original, scholarly research is to add to the body of knowledge. Your first step, therefore, should be to make sure that your proposed study is unique.
You can accomplish this by searching for dissertations similar to your proposed topic in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) database. PQDT is the largest single repository of graduate dissertations and theses, with over 3.8 million works from universities worldwide. Use advanced search techniques covered in Searching 101 like subject searching, truncation, and Boolean operators to make your search more precise. You may also read about these search techniques by referring to the Preparing to Search section of our Research Process Guide.
For example, if you are studying the perceptions of elementary school teachers on the inclusive classroom, you could setup the search as shown below:
Researching similar dissertations is not only a way to ensure that you will be contributing original research to the field, but also a great way to see examples of how other students conducted a literature review and used a particular research methodology. Additionally, you can potentially identify a particular test instrument or theoretical framework appropriate for your study, as well as discover scholarly research articles that you may not have come across in your own research.
For additional guidance on using ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, see the following:
I could have pursued my Ph.D. anywhere. I attended elite schools for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and my GPAs were always high. Cost and future employment prospects are not major concerns for me. Convenience and ease to complete courses on my schedule were paramount. The reputation of the institution was not as important because of my current profession and employment stability. If I were younger, looking to launch a career change, or switching to a new employer, reputation would be a bigger concern. NCU is appropriate for the self-motivated, self-directed, self-learner. It is not for the student dependent on regular, face-to-face instruction, academic advising, or tutoring. NCU is for students who know what they want to study; know how to manage time, workload, and personal life; and have strong study skills, writing proficiency, and critical thinking. A Ph.D. is not for everyone, and if a student needs a traditional, brick & mortar institution, NCU is not a good fit. NCU was a good fit for me, and I am very pleased with my experience. I worked with very competent, knowledgeable academic and financial advisors. All but one instructor were first-class. Some instructors were very personable, and I would consider them my mentors, equals, and friends. NCU is accredited, and that is very important to anyone looking to transfer credits and receive federal financial assistance. NCU is fully online and is one of a growing list of online undergraduate and graduate programs. Some have more name recognition, but NCU has a similar approach to online instruction. NCU has a valuable library and research resources. Tutoring services work well if the student plans ahead, schedules sessions in advance, and is prepared to use tutors as intended - not to have tutors do the work for the student. After reading some NCU dissertations, a prospective doctoral student will discover there is rigor and the research contributes to the Academy.