A Portal to Online Graduate Theses and Dissertations

If you look up you should see two more links have been added along the header of this page, just above the banner picture.

ARCHAEOLOGY THESES is a page of links to freely-available, online PDF copies of graduate dissertations and theses on Northwest Archaeology subjects (with a few palaeo-environment theses thrown in for fun).

OTHER THESES is a similar page, but where the focus is on Northwest Anthropology, First Nations Studies, History and related disciplines.

I am planning another page which will be for online archaeological, ethnographic and historic documents of note, in particular “classic” ethnographic works and major site reports which have been intentionally posted in online contexts.  Probably this will be a few weeks yet.

The impetus for these pages is that I have often said the M.A. thesis in particular is a significant backbone of B.C. Archaeology, and the dissertation even more so.  For years these substantial works languished on library shelves.  Now, libraries are increasingly making them available online, free to the public and the academy alike – that is, not behind password protection.

However, you have to know how to look, and where to look, and often you need to know in advance what you are looking for, in order to find this stuff.  I thought it would be useful to have a very simple portal for these graduate works.  Not only does this make them browsable by the more hardcore of my blog readers, but it will get them some google-love!

Not all theses ever written are available online (mine isn’t!):  as it notes on the pages, there are programs in place at UVIC and UBC to digitize their back-catalogue of theses and dissertations.  It would be great if institutions like Calgary, Toronto and McMaster could get their dSpaces full, and open. Unless, of course, they are ashamed of the quality of their graduate student work 😉

So, these pages will be updated periodically. I am not vouching for the quality of any of the ones I linked — indeed a few of them are exceptionally poorly reasoned,  naive, unsupported, badly written, or long-winded efforts -and  in at least one case, all of the above!  Most are very solid though, in my estimation, and a few are truly excellent.  If you know of useful and relevant graduate work that is freely available and not yet linked, let me know in a comment below, or send me an email qmackie [at] gmail.com.  In the meantime, happy browsing.

6 responses to “A Portal to Online Graduate Theses and Dissertations

  1. This is a terrific idea, and holy cow (a well known Richardson Island saying), what a lot of work. Both in compiling the list, and in the work that has gone into all those theses. You have just made your blog a must-read for all future graduate students, and professional archaeologists.

    And, a couple of snippets from this blog do beg the question “why?”:

    “Unless, of course, they are ashamed of the quality of their graduate student work ;-)”

    “Not all theses ever written are available online (mine isn’t!)”



  2. this is really really really good


  3. This will be a wonderful research resource, even for we lowly journalists! I’m always under severe deadline pressure and really welcome an initial one-stop shopping spot for Northwest Coast info. Thanks so much for doing this.


  4. APM – tootch! Well, maybe I will host my own copy of it just to prove’em wrong.

    Thanks twoeyes and heatherpringle: this blog runs on double americanos and positive feedback.


  5. Hey Quentin,

    You may be aware that the online magazine Popular Anthropology is trying to build an archive of dissertations and theses too. Not quite as topic-specific as yours, but nevertheless, another online repository. The URL is: http://www.popanthro.com/index.php/en/databases

    And, if you thought that my diss might fit into your collection of other theses, I’d be pleased to have a linked added. The diss is about hunting and storytelling in northern BC. It is online at:




    • Hi Tad,

      Thanks for the link — I had never heard of that program. It’s a great idea and basically they could scrape my pages if they wanted.

      And of course yours is hard-core for NW Coast so I’ll add it to the “other page” when I do revisions. I haven’t got to the U.S. American repositories much yet but I am hoping there will be some theses on Oregon, Washington and Alaskan topics available one way or another, since cross-border dissemination is a bit of an ulterior motive of this blog.

      Anyway, hope you are doing well and thanks for the tips.


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