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Index to Theses: What's New

New features fall into the following categories (most recent additions first):

Links to full text

Index to Theses is delighted to announce an important new enhancement to its web-based service meaning that users can now identify and link to the full text availability of theses online (ETD - Electronic Theses and Dissertations).

Where an ETD is not yet available, the new Index to Theses feature describes alternative routes for obtaining the full text of theses from a specified university.


Irish Theses

All theses from Irish universities will appear not just in our main site but also in our new collection of Irish Theses. This sub-collection has the familiar look and feel of the main site but restricts all searches to just those theses that come from Irish universities.

Search Help pages

First, in order to help you use our subject classifications when searching for theses, every search page now has a button linking to a redesigned list of subject classifications.

Next, we've had many enquiries from users struggling to get to grips with the powerful features of our Advanced Search page. In recognition of the problems some of you have had we have now redesigned this page to include a summary of the most useful field codes that allow you to target your searches at particular parts of the thesis, like author or subject classification.

Many of the tips that we've given individual users over the years are brought together in our Search Examples page. Finally, we've also added a page that illustrates how you might go about refining a search to hone in on a precise set of results.


Index to Theses has dramatically expanded its coverage of dissertations accepted for higher degrees by the Universities of UK and Ireland. Until now, users of the Index to Theses web-based service have had access to theses from 1970 to date, with full text abstracts only included from 1986. The new and enhanced service provides users with coverage dating from today right back to 1716, providing total bibliographic control of all theses ever produced by British and Irish Universities.

In addition, the expanded Index to Theses service benefits from the addition of a further 44,000 abstracts to the original collection covering the period 1970 - 1985.

Origination of material 

Content in Index to Theses is based on the following print publications:

1716 - 1950: The Retrospective Index to Theses

Published by ABC CLIO ( and edited by Bilboul and Kent.

Content for this period comprises bibliographic listings only.

1950 to date:  Index to Theses

Published by Expert Information.

Content for the period 1950 1986 comprises bibliographic listings only. From 1986 onwards the publishers introduced abstracts into the printed publication. From 1970 to 1985 abstracts were collected on microfiche, which have since been converted to PDF files.

In summary, this expanded coverage means Index to Theses users now have access to:

  • 480,000 theses entries in total.
  • 36,000 additional bibliographic entries converted from the Retrospective Index to Theses by Expert Information and with the kind permission of ABC CLIO.
  • Some 220,000 bibliographic records converted from the printed publication by Expert Information from 1950 to 1986.
  • 44,000 abstracts added in PDF format for the period 1970 to 1986.
  • From 1986 onwards, all entries include abstracts with some 15,000 entries added each year.

Improved handling of universities

Over the many years that Index to Theses has been in operation new universities have appeared, others have changed their names or merged with each other.  In order to improve the efficiency of searching on university we have made a cross reference between all old universities and their currently active equivalents. 

This cross reference underpins the university search on the simple search page.  When you pick a university from the list on this page, the search will automatically include all old forms of the university, as detailed in the cross reference.

Indexing of microfiche material

The new collection includes 44,718 Adobe pdf files which have been derived from microfiche collected over the period from 1970 to 1985.  The text of each microfiche has been extracted using Optical Character Recognition algorithms and this text has in turn been indexed.  As a consequence, any searches on abstract content will include matches against the text in these pdf files.  While the quality of the character recognition is not sufficiently high to merit displaying the converted text as part of the thesis data, it does result in a demonstrable improvement to the searching of these documents on abstract content.

2009 Expert Information Ltd