how to cite dissertations

how to cite dissertations

A dissertation is a unique type of source. It is a finished, stand-alone work written under the auspices of an institution. In a change from the previous edition of the MLA Handbook, we do not distinguish between published and unpublished dissertations. To cite a dissertation, include in the entry the author, title, and date of publication as core elements. As an optional element, list the institution granting the degree and a description of the work.

Njus, Jesse. Performing the Passion: A Study on the Nature of Medieval Acting. 2010. Northwestern U, PhD dissertation.

If retrieved from a commercial database, provide the database name and publication number:
Unpublished theses and dissertations:

Thesis / Dissertation
A.A. Surname, Ph.D. thesis, Place of Publication, year of publication

B: Hilde, Libra Rose. “Worth a Dozen Men: Women, Nursing, and Medical Care during the American
Civil War.” PhD diss., Harvard University, 2003. ProQuest (3091579).
N: 1. Lindsey Bingley, “From Overalls to Aprons? The Paid and Unpaid Labour of Southern Alberta Women, 1939-1959” (master’s thesis, University of Lethbridge, 2006), 58.

How to cite dissertations
In the case of dissertations, the AAT number is usually preferred, since it is more widely recognized (e.g. you could use the AAT number to order a dissertation from Dissertation’s Express).
Johnson, E. K. (2003). Word segmentation during infancy: The role of subphonemic cues to word boundaries (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database. (Accession Order No. AAT 3080693)

  1. Fenster SD. Cloning and Characterization of Piccolo, a Novel Component of the Presynaptic Cytoskeletal Matrix [dissertation]. Birmingham: University of Alabama; 2000.

Author(s). Title [dissertation]. City, State (or, Province or Country) of publication: Publisher name; copyright year.

voluntary sector on performance of mental health care delivery in Lincolnshire. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation).
In-text citation

How to cite dissertations
There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
Research & Instruction Librarian


Author, A. A. (Date). Title: Subtitle [Unpublished type of thesis]. Name of institution awarding the degree.
Author, A. A. (Date). Title of thesis: Subtitle [Type of thesis, name of institution awarding degree]. Name of archive or site. URL


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