Follow any instructions that your university or college has given you. This may sound patronizing but each educational establishment may have their own ideas and rules especially if you will be trawling their databases.
Familiarize yourself with the way the system words before you are ready to use it for ’real’.
Check out the system by searching - department; author; key words; dates; undergraduate theses etc.
Evaluate the different results when you use similar key words in your search.
If you are ready to start using the database for your own project you need to stat by making some firm decisions as to the specifics you are looking for.
Remember that a slight change in the key words that you use may actually result in dissertations or theses that do not match your research or may take your work in the wrong direction.
Make firm decisions as to the age of the work you are seeking. Look at current work. If you are developing your own ideas and want to acknowledge how the information and research in that area has progressed you need to look at how previous work has been built upon.
If you are using a college or university database you can also check with the librarian, who will be able to advise you not just with accessing the data base but also with their knowledge of work in different departments.
Be aware that sometimes it will take several months after completion before a dissertation or thesis will appear on a database.
Keep checking the database - don’t just use it once and feel that you have all the up to date information.
Check with the Librarian, they may information as to what may soon be added to the database.
Check the filters that you are using for your search. Advice again is to check with the librarian and your tutor.
Worldwide searches. It is always good to check out what other academics have researched and shared, but one of the biggest problems is a possible language barrier. When trawling databases, for dissertations and theses, you may find that only the abstract has been translated in to English.
Not all dissertations and theses are available online, they may be available in a different format i.e. dissertations written before a particular date (e.g. 1978) may not be found online; Microfiche may be available for inter-library loan and for reading, copying, or scanning in the library - check with your Librarian.
If a dissertation or theses is not available online, they may take a while to order, so factor in the time needed for this.
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