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How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in MLA
Citing a thesis or dissertation.
Thesis – A document submitted to earn a degree at a university.
Dissertation – A document submitted to earn an advanced degree, such as a doctorate, at a university.
The formatting for thesis and dissertation citations is largely the same. However, you should be sure to include the type of degree after the publication year as supplemental information. For instance, state if the source you are citing is an undergraduate thesis or a PhD dissertation.
MLA Thesis and Dissertation Citation Structure (print)
Last, First M. Title of the Thesis/Dissertation. Year Published. Name of University, type of degree.
MLA Thesis and Dissertation Citation Structure (online)
Last, First M. Title of the Thesis/Dissertation. Year Published. Name of University, type of degree. Website Name , URL.
Wilson, Peggy Lynn. Pedagogical Practices in the Teaching of English Language in Secondary Public Schools in Parker County . 2011. University of Maryland, PhD dissertation.
In-text Citation Structure
(Author Last Name page #)
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Cite a Thesis
Don't let plagiarism errors spoil your paper
Consider your source's credibility. ask these questions:, contributor/author.
- Has the author written several articles on the topic, and do they have the credentials to be an expert in their field?
- Can you contact them? Do they have social media profiles?
- Have other credible individuals referenced this source or author?
- Book: What have reviews said about it?
- What do you know about the publisher/sponsor? Are they well-respected?
- Do they take responsibility for the content? Are they selective about what they publish?
- Take a look at their other content. Do these other articles generally appear credible?
- Does the author or the organization have a bias? Does bias make sense in relation to your argument?
- Is the purpose of the content to inform, entertain, or to spread an agenda? Is there commercial intent?
- Are there ads?
- When was the source published or updated? Is there a date shown?
- Does the publication date make sense in relation to the information presented to your argument?
- Does the source even have a date?
- Was it reproduced? If so, from where?
- If it was reproduced, was it done so with permission? Copyright/disclaimer included?
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Harvard Referencing: Theses
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On this page
- Basic format to reference an unpublished thesis
Referencing theses: Examples
Related links within this guide.
- The in-text reference The basics of using in-text references in Harvard.
- The Reference List The format for a Reference List in Harvard.
- How to use quotes in Harvard How to include short and long quotes in your work.
- Secondary Sources What to do if you want to reference a quote that someone else has referenced?
- Useful Library resources
Basic format to reference a thesis
The basics of a Reference List entry for an unpublished thesis:
- Author. The surname is followed by first initials.
- Title (in single inverted commas).
- Level of Thesis.
Example of unpublished thesis: Kyei-Nimakoh, M 2017, ‘Management and referral of obstetric complications: a study in the upper east region of Ghana ’, PhD thesis, Victoria University, Melbourne.
- A thesis can come in a number of formats, i.e. they can be published, unpublished or retrieved from a database.
- The principles when referencing a thesis are similar to those employed when referencing a book.
- The example above is for an unpublished thesis, examples for an online or a published thesis can be found below.
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Reference List: Other Print Sources
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Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here .
Important Note: Because the 7 th edition of the APA Publication Manual heavily emphasizes digital and electronic sources, it does not contain explicit instructions for certain less-common print sources that earlier editions covered. For this reason, some of the examples below have been adapted from the instructions for sources with similar attributes (e.g., the conference proceedings example is derived from the instructions the 7 th edition manual gives for citing edited collections). Every example below that has been adapted in this way is accompanied by a note explaining how it was adapted.
Please also note: While this resource contains many examples of citations for uncommon print sources that we think are helpful, it may not account for every possibility. For even more examples of how to cite uncommon print sources, please refer to the 7 th edition of the APA Publication Manual.
Entry in a Dictionary, Thesaurus, or Encyclopedia with a Group Author
The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide specific guidance on how to cite physical reference works such as dictionaries, thesauruses, or encyclopedias. Therefore, this citation, as well as the one for an individual author of an entry in a reference work, is modeled on that of a chapter in an edited book or anthology, both which are similar in format to reference works.
Institution or organization name. (Year). Title of entry. In Title of reference work (edition, page numbers). Publisher name.
Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. (1997). Goat. In Merriam Webster’s collegiate dictionary (10 th ed., pp. 499-500). Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.
Entry in a Dictionary, Thesaurus, or Encyclopedia with an Individual Author
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of entry. In F. M. Lastname (ed.), Title of reference work (edition, page numbers). Publisher.
Tatum, S. R. (2009). Spirituality and religion in hip hop literature and culture. In T. L. Stanley (ed.), Encyclopedia of hip hop literature (pp. 250-252). Greenwood.
Work Discussed in a Secondary Source
Provide the source in which the original work was referenced:
Nail, T. (2017). What is an assemblage? SubStance , 46 (1), 21-37. http://sub.uwpress.org/lookup/doi/10.3368/ss.46.1.21
Note: Provide the secondary source in the references list; in the text, name the original work, and give a citation for the secondary source. For example, if Deleuze and Guattari’s work is cited in Nail and you did not read the original work, list the Nail reference in the References. In the text, use the following citation:
Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the assemblage (as cited in Nail, 2017)….
The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide specific guidance on how to cite dissertation abstracts. Therefore, this citation models that of a journal article, which is similar in format.
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation. Dissertation Abstracts International , Vol., Page.
Angeli, E. L. (2012). Networks of communication in emergency medical services. Dissertation Abstracts International, 74 , 03(E).
Dissertation or Master’s Thesis, Published
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master’s thesis, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree]. Database or Archive Name.
Angeli, E. L. (2012). Networks of communication in emergency medical services (Publication No. 3544643) [Doctoral dissertation, Purdue University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Note: If the dissertation or thesis is not published in a database, include the URL of the site where the document is located.
Dissertation or Master’s Thesis, Unpublished
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis [Unpublished doctoral dissertation/master’s thesis]. Name of Institution Awarding the Degree.
Samson, J. M. (2016). Human trafficking and globalization [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Federal or State Statute
Name of Act, Public Law No. (Year). URL
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Publ. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010). https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-111publ148/pdf/PLAW-111publ148.pdf
Report by a Government Agency or Other Organization
Organization Name. (Year). Title of report. URL
United States Government Accountability Office. (2019). Performance and accountability report: Fiscal year 2019 . https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/702715.pdf
Report by Individual Authors at Government Agency or Other Organization
Lastname, F. M., & Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of report . Organization Name. URL
Palanker, D., Volk, J., Lucia, K., & Thomas, K. (2018). Mental health parity at risk: Deregulating the individual market and the impact on mental health coverage . National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/Publications-Reports/Public-Policy-Reports/Parity-at-Risk/ParityatRisk.pdf
The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide guidance on citing conference proceedings. Therefore, this citation models that of an edited collection, which is similar in format.
Lastname, F. M., & Lastname, F. M. (Eds.). (Year). Title of Proceedings . Publisher. URL (if applicable)
Huang, S., Pierce, R., & Stamey, J. (Eds.). (2006). Proceedings of the 24 th annual ACM international conference on the design of communication . ACM Digital Library. https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1166324&picked=prox
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Terminology - Thesis, dissertation or exegesis?
Published theses and dissertations, unpublished theses and dissertations.
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Thesis and dissertation can mean different things depending on where the degree is awarded. Always check the title page, or subsequent pages, to determine exactly what the work is and use the information for your reference.
Auckland University of Technology (and other NZ universities)
- Thesis is either for a doctoral or a master's degree.
- Dissertation is either for a master's or a bachelor's degree with honours.
- Exegesis is the written component of a practice-based thesis where the major output is a creative work; e.g. a film, artwork, novel.
Other parts of the world
- In North America and some other countries, dissertation is used for a doctoral degree and thesis for a master's degree.
Theses available in a database, a university archive or from a personal website.
Theses published online (e.g. in institutional repositories), theses from proquest dissertations and theses global.
Find how to cite in text on the In-text citation page.
Unpublished thesis or dissertations are usually sourced directly from the university in print form.
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Chicago Citation Style Guide
About chicago style.
- Note-Bibliography Basics
- Author-Date Basics
- Citing Journal Articles
- Citing Newspaper Articles
- Citing Magazines
- Citing Websites & Blogs
- Sound Recordings
- Radio Program (Podcast)
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- TV & Video (Web)
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This guide is a general overview of how to cite common types of sources using the two versions of Chicago style for student writing, 16th edition.
The Chicago Manual of Style consists of two basic documentation styles:
Notes-Bibliography (NB) is common in art history, theology, history, and other humanities disciplines
NB format uses footnotes and endnotes with a bibliography at the end of the document to record sources
Author-Date (AD) is sometimes used in the social sciences
In the Author-Date system, sources are cited in the text, usually in parentheses, by author's last name and date of publication and expanded upon in a list of references at the end of the document, where full bibliographic information is provided.
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Thesis / Dissertation
Cite a thesis or dissertation (unpublished, published online, or accessed through a database). Use other forms to cite books , journal articles , reports , and conference proceedings .
Chicago Citation Style, 17th Edition: Thesis or Dissertation
- One Author or Editor
- Multiple Authors or Editors
- Author and Editor
- Author and Translator
- Organization as Author
- Anonymous Work
- Chapter from an Edited Work
- Multivolume Work
- Edition Other than the First
- Dictionary or Encyclopedia
- Journal Article
- Magazine Article
- Newspaper Article
- Book Review
- Basic Webpage
- Blogs and Social Media
- Government Website
- Audio/Video Recording
- Online Multimedia
- Interview or Personal Communication
- Lecture or Presentation
- Primary Source Published in an Edited Collection
- Thesis or Dissertation
- Pamphlet or Brochure
- Sacred Text
- Indirect Source
- Government Document
- Paintings, Illustrations, Tables
Thesis or Dissertation (14.215)
Example 1 – Print
N: 1. Lindsey Bingley, "From Overalls to Aprons? The Paid and Unpaid Labour of Southern Alberta Women, 1939-1959" (master's thesis, University of Lethbridge, 2006), 58.
B: Bingley, Lindsey. "From Overalls to Aprons? The Paid and Unpaid Labour of Southern Alberta Women, 1939-1959." Master's thesis, University of Lethbridge, 2006.
Example 2 – Online (Commercial Database)
N: 1. Libra Rose Hilde, "Worth a Dozen Men: Women, Nursing, and Medical Care during the American Civil War" (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2003), 295, ProQuest ( 3091579).
B: Hilde, Libra Rose. "Worth a Dozen Men: Women, Nursing, and Medical Care during the American Civil War." PhD diss., Harvard University, 2003. ProQuest (3091579).
Example 3 – Online (Institutional Repository)
N: 1. Hiroshi Ishida, "A Geography of Contemporary Maori Agriculture." (PhD diss., University of Auckland, 1966), 110-16, https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/handle/2292/2489.
B: Ishida, Hiroshi. "A Geography of Contemporary Maori Agriculture" PhD diss., University of Auckland, 1966. https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/handle/2292/2489.
Help & Guide Contents
Home General Guidelines Notes Bibliography Books One Author or Editor Multiple Authors or Editors Author and Editor Author and Translator Organization as Author Anonymous Work Chapter from an Edited Work Multivolume Work Edition Other than the First Dictionary or Encyclopedia E-Book Articles Journal Article Magazine Article Newspaper Article Book Review Websites Basic Webpage Blogs and Social Media Government Website Audiovisual Media Audio/Video Recording Online Multimedia Other Sources Interview or Personal Communication Lecture or Presentation Primary Source Published in an Edited Collection Thesis or Dissertation Pamphlet or Brochure Sacred Text Indirect Source Government Document Paintings, Illustrations, Tables Plagiarism
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About this Site
Use Tabs for Navigation
Click on the tabs at the top of the page to see examples of MLA citations for a variety of formats. MLA Handbook , 8th edition has made a significant shift from a fixed set of rules to a system based on general principles. These new principles can be used with any type source and they allow writers to create streamlined and more useful citations.The Handbook still includes citation examples, but the examples are organized by the elements of this template :
1. Author 2. Title of source 3. Title of container 4. Other contributors 5. Version 6. Number 7. Publisher 8. Publication date 9. Location
Changes from MLA 7th ed.
If you are looking for the MLA 7th edition LibGuide , click here .
Here are a few of the notable changes in the works-cited-list entries from the seventh edition :
1. The recommended list of abbreviations is much shorter (96-97); words such as editor , edited by , translator , and review of are not abbreviated.
2. If a source has three or more authors, only the first is listed, followed by et al. (22). The term "author" is used broadly and the writer has the flexibility to deciding if a translator, performer, etc. should be emphasized and used in the "author" position with the actual author being listed as an "other contributor." Use the form of the author's name given on the source.
3. Pages are listed as p. or pp., but not in-text citations (46).
4. City of publication is no longer listed unless there is a special situation (51).
5. Periodicals are now identified with "vol. 35, no. 3" instead of "35.3." (39-40).
6. Include the full date information (month, day, or season) along with the year (45).
7. URLs are included without http:// or https:// and no angle brackets are used (48, 110).
8. The use of DOIs are encouraged (110).
9. Citing the date a website was accessed is now optional (53).
10. Placeholders such as n.d. (no date) are no longer used. If facts are missing and reliable information can be found, include it in brackets (2.6.1).
11. Publishers' names are no longer shortened, except words like "Company" are dropped. University Press is still abbreviated UP (97).
12. If there are two distinct publishers (not subsidiaries of another listed), separate the names with a forward slash (/) (108).
13. Publisher's names may be omitted for a variety of publication types (42).
14. If an organization is the author and publisher of a work, the organization's name is given only once, usually as the publisher (25). The author's name is not included.
15. The works-cited list should use hanging indents with the second and subsequent lines of each entry having an indention of half and inch from the left margin. If creating a hanging indent is difficult (such as when creating web pages), leave extra space between entries to serve the same purpose (2.7).
16. Capitalize every important word in the title as described in section 1.2.1.
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Author last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). Title of thesis or dissertation in sentence case (Publication or Document No.) [Degree type
MLA Thesis and Dissertation Citation Structure (print). Last, First M. Title of the Thesis/Dissertation. Year Published. Name of University, type of degree. MLA
Cite a Thesis ; Contributor/Author. Has the author written several articles on the topic, and do they have the credentials to be an expert in their field?
Basic format to reference a thesis · Author. The surname is followed by first initials. · Year. · Title (in single inverted commas). · Level of
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree].
Reference format ; Author, Date. Title ; Author, A. A., (Year). Title (Publication No. if present) [Doctoral dissertation/Doctoral thesis/Master's
Last-name, First-name. Year. "Title of Thesis: Subtitle." Database Name (Identifier if given), Internet address. Example:.
Cite a thesis or dissertation (unpublished, published online, or accessed through a database). Use other forms to cite books, journal articles, reports
Chicago Citation Style, 17th Edition: Thesis or Dissertation · Thesis or Dissertation (14.215) · Help & Guide Contents.
Essential Elements · 1. Name of Author · 2. Title of dissertation/thesis (italicized) · 3. Date of Publication.