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Mary Ellen Sloane is User Services Librarian for Basic and Applied Sciences at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).
"We really appreciate the value of digital dissertations for our users, our graduate students and faculty. We were already getting some dissertations in microform but that wasn’t the most easy of mediums to access, especially as users went increasingly online and were working remotely," said Mary Ellen. "Additionally, the much broader and easier access to essential information that PQDT (ProQuest® Dissertations & Theses) provides along with the reduction in processing time and effort associated with physical copies of dissertations, was also much appreciated."
The institution has access to more than 33,000 journals and periodicals, and approximately 1,000,000 monographs, alongside multiple databases and other collections. The thousands of dissertations and theses available from ProQuest are a very important complement to these resources. "Books and journals are of course essential tools for study and research. But sometimes a book can be a little bit too general, and talk quite broadly around a particular subject, and sometimes journal articles don’t quite cover the specific subject matter the student is looking at."
The level of detail available to students via dissertations also helps to enhance the overall research process, acting as a bibliography to other essential reading. Mary Ellen commented, "When a student finds a dissertation that is about their topic, not only are they able to look at the most recent research that has been carried out, but they can build on the literature review carried out by the dissertation’s author to develop a deeper understanding of their subject."
And while showing library patrons how to search for dissertations or theses, Mary Ellen also advises them to look closely at the literature review and see if there are other resources they can borrow. "It is most likely the author would have looked into what the seminal articles or monographs in that particular subject are, which will give the student a good broad overview of the discipline."
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