Theses and dissertations

The popularisation of institutional repositories in recent years is transforming access to born-digital theses, also known as e-theses or even ETDs (electronic theses and dissertations), with many universities archiving online their complete output, or a large proportion of it. This material is not always available to all in full text, but it seems that open access is slowly becoming the default option. The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR), funded by JISC and hosted by the University of Southampton, lists nearly 3,000 UK and international repositories, and provides content search and browse facilities (including an e-theses category). EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) is a hugely successful service managed by the British Library in partnership with the HE sector. It gives details of some 250,000 UK theses going back to 1600, providing free access to e-theses (harvested from OA institutional repositories) and digitised theses where available. Additional material is digitised on demand, in most cases free of charge. The commercial database Index to theses, now part of ProQuest, lists more than 500,000 UK and Irish theses, giving abstracts for nearly 350,000 of them.


Registry of Open Access Repositories

Registry of Open Access Repositories: e-theses


Index to theses


The US database ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) is a commercial service that gives access some 2.7 million theses citations (from 1861 to date), with 1.2 million available in full text as pdf files (mostly from 1997) and 2.1 available on request in print. ProQuest also offers PQDT Open, an open access e-theses database, free to users, and Dissertation Express, a commercial service that allows those without access to PQDT to search and order individual ProQuest theses (as pdf or in print).


ProQuestDissertations & Theses


Dissertation Express


Other international databases of e-theses include DART Europe and NDLTD. DART Europe, hosted by UCL, is a portal providing open access to some 300,000 European e-theses. The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) is an international initiative to promote and support work in this field. Its Union Catalog contains 1.8 million records harvested from a range of international repositories, and can be searched via different interfaces. Senate House Library has published an excellent Guide to theses listings, providing information on national databases arranged by country.


DART Europe


Senate House Library: A guide to theses listings


There are a number of e-theses resources specialised in the visual arts. Art & Design Index to Theses (ADIT), lists 1,278 UK theses and includes abstracts, from 1955 to 2009 (coverage since 2006 does not seem to be systematic). CAA Reviews lists PhD dissertations completed and in progress, by year (2002-2010) and subject. ARTtheses, a German database based at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, indexes around 60,000 theses completed or in progress, mostly in Germany but also including selected international art historical research institutions. Travaux de Recherche en Histoire de l’Art et Archéologie, published by INHA, offers similar information for French research (currently between 2000-2009).



CAA Reviews: dissertations


Travaux de Recherche en Histoire de l’Art et Archéologie




Art databases update

Initiated in 2001 by a group of librarians, Contemporary Culture Index (CCI)is an open-access bibliographical database indexing a rigorous selection of international journals on architecture, art, cinema, literature, music, philosophy, etc., not covered by commercial databases, comprising small and out of print titles, as well as non-Western ones. It includes an illustrated and annotated section about the periodicals indexed in the database, and the self-reflective processes involved in its production.


Primary Information, non-profit publishers of contemporary art reprints and facsimiles have been expanding their online content with a wealth of digitised material that includes an archive of Seth Siegelaub publications from the late 1960s and early 1970s (Xerox book; January 5-31, 1969; March 1969; July, August, September 1969; 18 PARIS IV.70; The United States Servicemen’s Fund Art Collection; etc.), Art Workers’ Coalition documents, Something Else Press Newsletters (1966-1983), etc. CCI and PI are both excellent examples of the many possibilities that the digital environment affords for disseminating and making again available ideas originally presented in print and other analog media, not instead of, but in addition to retaining access to the original materials (in many cases now rare and in private or public archives).

Contemporary Culture Index

Primary Information


Finally, the confirmation of another major piece of consolidation on the commercial databases front: Art Source, a new “super” art database created as a result of the merger of EBSCO and H.W. Wilson, will be launched in late 2012. The supplier has confirmed that it will combine the content of one of the most established resources in the field, Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson) and that of Art & Architecture Complete (EBSCO), with new licensed content that is not currently available in either resource. Coming only two years after the International Bibliography of Art (IBA) was acquired by ProQuest (owner of ARTBibliographies Modern, Design and Applied Arts Index and Art and Humanities Full Text since itmerged with CSA in 2007), it leaves the lion’s share of all art commercial bibliographic/indexing/abstracting/full text online services in the hands of these two companies.


Art Source



[Grandal Montero, G. (2012) Resources online: Theses and dissertations. ARLIS News-sheet, no. 218, July-August, pp. 3-4.]


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