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APA Citations for a Thesis or Dissertation

Learn how to cite a dissertation and thesis in APA. Why? Because using doctoral dissertations and master’s theses is a useful way to bolster your research for your APA format school paper through current, timely topics. You can also get several examples to guide you through the rules for an APA 7 citation of a dissertation and thesis for your reference list.

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How to Cite a Dissertation or Thesis in APA 7th Edition

The APA dissertation or thesis citation isn’t a one size fits all type of citation. The reason behind this is because APA offers a different format for a published and unpublished thesis or dissertation. However, you’ll need to include information like:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis (Publication number, if available) [Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis, Institution]. Publisher, if available. URL, if available

example APA citation thesis or dissertation

Notes:
  • Italicize the title.
  • Indicate that it is a doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis in parenthesis after the title.
  • Provide the publication number listed in the database in parentheses, if it is available.

 

How to Cite a Published Dissertation or Thesis in APA

To cite a published dissertation in APA 7th edition, you need to include:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis (Publication number, if available) [Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis, Institution]. Publisher.

Published APA Dissertation Example

Gavinea, D. S. (2010). Exploration of DNA sequencing: Disassembling the Sequencing chain (Publication No. 1434728) [Doctoral dissertation, Wilmington University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database.

Example of a Published Thesis APA- No Publication Number

Brown, S. (2010). Westward expansion [Master’s thesis, Univesity of Florida]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database.

In-Text Citation for a Published Dissertation or Thesis in APA

(Gavinea, 2010)

How to Cite a Dissertation or Thesis in APA Published Online – Not on a Database

Some published dissertations aren’t found on a database, so you include the URL along with the publisher of the dissertation.

Citing a Dissertation in APA Found Online

Kilbourn, B. (2006). The qualitative doctoral dissertation proposal [Doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona]. UA Campus Repository. https://repository.arizona.edu/handle/23015/235645

How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation APA – Unpublished

An unpublished thesis or dissertation citation in APA is going to take a slightly different format. These do not have a publisher or a publication number. The basic format of an unpublished dissertation or thesis looks like:

Author, A. (Year). Title of the work [Unpublished doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis]. Institution.

Unpublished Dissertation Example in APA

Castle, C. (2001). Interpreters, docents and educators: Ways of knowing, ways of teaching in a history museum, an art gallery, and a nature centre [Unpublished doctoral dissertation] University of Toronto. 

Notes:
  • The format for an unpublished dissertation or thesis at the master’s or doctoral levels can also be adapted for an undergraduate thesis.
  • When the dissertation is found in an archive or database, follow the format for a published dissertation.

 

Information Needed for an APA Dissertation or Thesis Citation

Now that you’ve seen some basic examples, it’s time to look at where you find this information. When it comes to citing, you need to know whether it is a dissertation or thesis (it will say in the document). Secondly, you need to see if it is published or unpublished.

APA citation example thesis or dissertation from database

Where to Find APA Thesis and Dissertation Citation Information

Many graduate and postgraduate students submit their theses to subscription databases and institutional archives. Some even publish their work on their websites. Although there is a trend towards creating a portfolio rather than publishing a master’s thesis, there is still plenty of original material out there.

Some dissertation indexing and abstracting sources include Dissertations and Theses Global and ProQuest Dissertations. Usually, you have access to paid databases through your school and/or public library.

Difference Between a Published and Unpublished Dissertation

Knowing whether a dissertation or thesis is published or unpublished is a bit ticky. However, an unpublished dissertation or thesis is typically only available in your school library. In comparison, published dissertations offer more venues for access like databases and archives. Additionally, a published dissertation might also provide an indicator that it is in a published form.

Primary and Secondary Sources in a Thesis and Dissertation

Teachers prefer you to use as many primary sources as possible when creating a thesis or dissertation in APA format. Even so, it’s a good idea to incorporate secondary sources into your research. They guide you to authoritative sources. So, take the time to look through the reference list, works cited, or bibliography of secondary sources to find additional resources for your paper.

Vary Your APA Citations

Using a variety of sources makes the research process more enjoyable. Rather than just looking for accessible online sources, finding primary sources in doctoral and master’s theses shows off your research skills. Go further and read the abstracts of these sources to search for relevant sources quickly.

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FAQ APA Citations for a Thesis or Dissertation

How do you cite a dissertation in APA format?

To cite a dissertation in APA format, you need to know if it is published or unpublished. For a published dissertation in APA, you include the author, year, title, publication number, dissertation and university, and publisher. For an unpublished dissertation in APA, you include the author, year, title, unpublished dissertation, and university.

Can I cite a dissertation?

Yes, you can cite a dissertation in your APA research paper. Using dissertations and theses in your paper is encouraged because they offer recent information on timely topics.

How do you cite a dissertation in APA 7?

To cite a dissertation in APA, you need to include the author, year, title, publication number, thesis or dissertation, university, publisher, and URL. Depending on whether you use a published or unpublished dissertation, the order of the location information in your citation varies.
Author, A. A. (Year). Doctoral dissertation or master's thesis title (Publication number) [Doctoral dissertation or master's thesis, Institution]. Publisher. URL

How do you cite a dissertation in APA 6th edition?

In the 6th edition of APA for a dissertation citation, you would include the UMI number rather than the publication number. Additionally, doctoral dissertation is in parenthesis rather than brackets. An example of an APA 6 citation looks like:
Author, A. (Year). Title (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from database name. (UMI number)

How do you cite an unpublished paper?

To cite an unpublished master's thesis or doctoral dissertation in APA 7, you need to include the author, year, title, unpublished dissertation in brackets, and institution. This will look like:
Author, B. B. (Year). Work title [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Institution. 

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