Open Access Theses and Dissertations

About OATD – The FAQ

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What can I search for here?

This is an index of over 3.5 million electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs). To the extent possible, the index is limited to records of graduate-level theses that are freely available online.

What can I do with the ETDs I find on this site?

Most documents made available for open access allow you to download and read them for personal use. Without specific permission from the copyright owner, do not assume further permissions, such as redistributing ETDs from another web site or using them for commercial purposes.

With few exceptions, the documents indexed on OATD are the property of their authors and are legally protected by copyright. Individual ETDs and host repositories may have specific statements of the author’s rights and your permissions to use the document. In the event that the local repository or the ETD itself states different permissions than the record indexed by OATD, the local statement takes priority.

Where do the records come from?

See this list of sites that contribute records to this index.

Many of these schools’ records come from their own repositories. Others come from regional or national ETD consortia. With few exceptions, records are harvested from these sites using a standard called the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).

What definition of "Open Access" do you use?

We define open access broadly to cover ETDs that are free to access and read online. We encourage authors to consider formally specifying use permissions, for example by publishing their theses with a Creative Commons license.

Where does the full text live?

The full text of all papers lives on the original hosting site, usually the repository of the university that granted the degree. OATD indexes about the first 30 pages of some theses in order to show search hits, but in no case does OATD index or store the full text of the paper.

Our school’s ETDs are not in the index. How can we include them?

If your school has a repository of open-access ETDs, check with your repository manager to confirm that it has OAI-PMH harvesting enabled. This is an available option on most ETD or repository platforms, including DSpace, Digital Commons, eprints, ETD-db, and ContentDM. Once you have confirmed that, simply send us the OAI server’s base URL. We recommend that you also register the base URL with and

If you manage a collection of open access ETDs, but cannot run an OAI-PMH server, please contact us to discuss alternate arrangements. If you have good metadata, we want to include your records.

Our school’s ETDs are in the index, but they don’t show a lot of information. How can we improve them?

There are two causes for this problem. The first is that your repository’s OAI-PMH server doesn’t provide very rich metadata (which may indicate a configuration problem with your repository software). If so, you should work with your repository manager. The second reason is that good metadata is being put into fields we didn’t expect (for example, if publication dates are in note fields, we may not display them correctly). In that case, drop us a line to let us know what we’re missing.

I just found my thesis or dissertation on this site, and I’d rather it wasn’t available on the Internet. Can you remove it from your index?

My thesis is available online, but I can’t find it in your index. Can you add it?

I just found a record with a problem in it. Can you fix it?

The answer to all these questions is the same: talk with the school that provides the record. They may have policies about restricting access to the full text of a thesis, and they control the quality and availability of the record’s data.

Record changes at the originating site will not be reflected in OATD immediately. Records that are deleted or marked as unavailable will remain in OATD until we completely reindex the originating site’s records.

If I have questions about OATD itself, whom should I contact?

Please send any questions or comments to Thomas Dowling,

Are there other thesis and dissertation search services? How does OATD compare?

The best known commercial service for searching dissertations is Proquest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT). PQDT includes many, but not all, U.S. dissertations, and a smaller percentage of U.S. masters theses. Access to PQDT is restricted to subscribing institutions: ask your library if you have access. PQDT records are primarily not open access, and Proquest charges for full text access to most theses and dissertations that they index.

The Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) maintains a union catalog of ETDs. The NDLTD search services do not always differentiate between ETDs that are open access and those which are restricted.

OATD works hard to index only graduate-level theses and dissertations that are freely available to download and read right now. To the extent possible, we leave out closed-access and embargoed ETDs.