OATD.org aims to be the best possible resource for finding open access graduate theses and dissertations published around the world. Metadata (information about the theses) comes from over 1100 colleges, universities, and research institutions. OATD currently indexes 5,153,410 theses and dissertations.
We’re happy to present several data visualizations to give an overall sense of the OATD.org collection by county of publication, language, and field of study.
There are some obvious differences: an essay is relatively short – usually 1500 to 2500 words – and you are told clearly what to do by someone else. For example: Describe and evaluate major theories of globalisation.
Another useful clue is found in the Latin origin of the word – dissertation comes from a Latin word ‘dissertare’ = ‘to debate’.
These dissertations achieved a mark of 80 or higher:
The following two examples have been annotated with academic comments. This is to help you understand why they achieved a good 2:1 mark but also, more importantly, how the marks could have been improved.
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Resources for every step of your graduate education
The PhD dissertation is a research document that makes a significant and original contribution to existing knowledge in the discipline. While the precise form of the dissertation will vary by field, the dissertation’s fundamental function as an element of doctoral training is to attest to the author’s capacity to produce novel scholarship independently according to the standards of a particular academic discipline. This is why the final requirement of the dissertation is for it to undergo an examination by a panel of scholars in the field who can ascertain the originality of the argument advanced as well as its adherence to the conventions of the discipline.
The masters thesis and doctoral dissertation are written documents that describe the graduate student’s research. The subject of the thesis/dissertation is chosen by mutual agreement between the student and major adviser, and must be approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee. There is no fixed length for the thesis/dissertation, although the Supervisory Committee should provide guidance on format and content.
Masters theses should reveal a capacity to carry on independent study or research and should demonstrate the student’s ability to use the techniques employed in their field of investigation. Doctoral dissertations should demonstrate technical mastery of the student’s field and advance or modify current knowledge. Dissertations should treat new material, find new results, or draw new conclusions; or it should interpret old material in a new light. It is expected that the research contained in the thesis/dissertation will be worthy of publication in appropriate peer-reviewed journals. Students are expected to prepare the manuscript(s) for publication prior to, or soon after, completion of their graduate program.
These pages provide all the resources you need to prepare and submit your thesis or dissertation according to Graduate School requirements. Should you need further assistance, you may contact the Thesis Office by email, phone or in person. Here are some of the ways we can help you:
- Fully explain and demonstrate all document format requirements and technical specifications in the context of your unique document.
- Review your documentation style and citation format.
- Describe the electronic submission process step by step.
- Point you to sources of additional help when needed.
The links below provide information about every aspect of the thesis, doctoral scholarly project or dissertation process — from naming your document to hiring a typist , editor or transcriptionist .
Thesis and Dissertation Specialist