Dissertation Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts International (DAI) or the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT) database is a bibliography of American (and international) dissertations published by University Microfilms International (UMI) / ProQuest, Ann Arbor, since 1938. UMI has had an agitated life and the bibliographical data have often shifted owner and name, and therefore appears under different labels. It covers doctoral dissertations accepted at an accredited American institution since 1861. Selected Masters theses have been included since 1962; since 1988, the database includes citations for dissertations from 50 British universities that are available at The British Document Supply Centre. Besides it covers a limited number of dissertations from the rest of the world.
The print version is published monthly and cumulated annually an it is available both in softcover and on microfiche. It is divided in three sections:
- Section A, Humanities and Social Sciences
- Section B, Sciences and Engineering.
- Section C (DAI-C),(formerly European Dissertations) covers non-North American materials, most of them unavailable for purchase from ProQuest. As of 2008, ProQuest no longer offers DAI-C as a separate product.
Form or Content
The usability of dissertation abstracts depends largely on their content. Many journals within the medical community have settled on a seven sentence structure, which is also gaining acceptance in the social sciences, education and business. In it, the purpose of the study and methodological choices are outlined succinctly, allowing the reader or researcher to quickly scan and evaluate a number of studies to easily choose ones that meet their particular demands. The structure contains variations on the following seven sentence stems: "The purpose of this study is...." "The scope of this study...." "The methodology...." "The Findings..." "Conclusions reached are ..." "Limitations of this study include...." "This study contributes...." Abstracts of dissertation proposals contain the same seven concepts, substituting data collection and analysis in place of findings and conclusions. Abstracts are limited in the United States by the UMI to 350 words.
In 1962, the Xerox Corporation bought UMI. Xerox introduced some changes and in 1971 UMI changed its name to Xerox University Microfilms, but in 1976 reverted to University Microfilms International. In 1985, UMI was sold to Bell & Howell, who changed the name to Bell & Howell Information and Learning in 1999. In 2001 Bell and Howell created the ProQuest Company. December 2006, the Cambridge Information Group (CIG) bought the unit of ProQuest called ProQuest Information and Learning (which included UMI).
Former titles and print titles: From 1969: Dissertations Abstract International; from 1951: Dissertations Abstracts; from Microfilm Abstracts (an annual catalog of the dissertations available for sale from UMI), American Doctoral Dissertations (ADD), (until 1964): Index to American Doctoral Dissertations, (until 1956): Doctoral Dissertations Accepted by American Universities. Masters Abstracts International (MAI).
There are different versions in print and online. The online version is Dissertation Abstracts Online while the print bibliography is termed Dissertation Abstracts International. Material except the abstracts themselves were issued also on CD-ROM under the title: Dissertation abstracts ondisc.
- 1997: Dissertations go digital with ProQuest Digital Dissertations
- 1998: Library of Congress recognizes UMI as offsite repository of Digital Dissertations Library
Access to full texts
Aside from citations and abstracts, the PQDT database provides access to the full texts of more than a million graduate works produced since 1997, in PDF format. Access to the full texts is, however, limited to users at the originating universities, although 24-page previews of those works are available more widely.
- Abstract (summary)
- Bibliographic database
- Full text database
- Gray literature
- Indexing and abstracting service
- ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
- Dialog Bluesheet #35: http://library.dialog.com/bluesheets/html/bl0035.html
- Center for Research Libraries (2011). Profile: UMI Dissertation Publishing, ProQuest, LLC. http://www.crl.edu/profile/umi-dissertation-publishing-proquest-llc#Summary
Davinson, D. (1977). Theses and Dissertations as Information Sources. London: Clive Bingley. Glatthorn, A. A. & Joyner, R. L. (2005). Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation: A Step by Step Guide. Thousand Oaks, Corwin Press.