ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Research: Permitted Uses and Restrictions

For those who haven’t heard, ProQuest is a database that has an active partnership with over 700 colleges and universities and disseminates over 90,000 new graduate works annually. The graduate works are largely available through college and university subscriptions. Professors and students are encouraged to use this resource in their research and to review samples of well-written dissertations and theses. There are, however, some limitations on how the graduate works are to be used.

ProQuest Permitted Uses:


  • Users – In simple terms the only people permitted to use subscribed services are people who have access to a library’s resources (whether public or private) and will use the database on-site. Other users include students affiliated with the subscribing college or university, and employees within a firm that uses ProQuest.
  • Recommended Uses – The contents of ProQuest’s database are to be used only for online research, research and analysis, and for fair use printed uses. This last use is for professors and instructors who are allowed to use a portion of a book, article, essay, etc. in a handout or compilation reader for students to use in the course. In this case, the instructor notifies the library and specifies which sections exactly will be used and for what purposes.
  • Material Uses – After material has been downloaded or printed, it can only be used by the primary approved subscriber for the original purpose. This means that if you are a student with access through your library you can only use the material for your intended research and can’t re-use the content for another essay later on in your academic career without re-applying or asking for the permission.

ProQuest Restrictions:


  • Copyright – Most dissertations and theses are automatically copyrighted by the institution in which they were written, and the author usually holds the highest level of copyright suggesting that if he or she ever wants to republish they would be able to do so after following a few requirements. This means is that you cannot copy parts of the dissertation or thesis without assigning credit just as you would if you were copying a quote from a book.
  • Limitations – Some students may have filed limitations on the work they have submitted to ProQuest. This means that sometimes you will only have access to just a few portions of a completed work. This can be problematic if you intend to use a source but can’t verify study methods or conclusions because of this limitation. This might cause some doubt in your own interpretations and waste a lot of your time.

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