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Penn Dissertations on Africa: Overview

Selected tools for identifying dissertations on Africa

Penn dissertations on Africa - a broad list

This broad list of University of Pennsylvania doctoral dissertations, 1980-present, was assembled through searches run at intervals in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text and its predecessors, Proquest Digital Dissertations and Dissertation Abstracts International. Individual dissertation records in the search results were reviewed for relevance.

  • PennAfricaDissertations_1980to2017_20180613.xlsx
    This MS Excel spreadsheet identifies 493 Penn doctoral dissertations (Ph.D., Ed.D., and D.S.W. degrees) on African topics, 1980-2017. The spreadsheet provides author, title, department, date, abstract, advisor (where easily available), ProQuest subject and keyword indexing, UMI order number, and a direct URL to ProQuest's citation.
    Last update: 21 May 2018.

These MS Word files present the list by decade:

  • NewProQuest_Africa_Search_rev.txt
    This text file provides the search string used in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text to produce the spreadsheet above. The search is limited to University of Pennsylvania and University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (which was treated separately by ProQuest for a brief time).


  • The list's 1980 start date corresponds to the earliest appearance of abstracts in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text.
  • The list includes Ph.D., Ed.D., and D.S.W. degrees. ProQuest's coverage of Ed.D. dissertations starts with 1987 (with one D.Ed. in 1974), although Franklin indicates Ed.D. dissertation holdings starting with 1930 - so pre-1987 Ed.D. dissertations on Africa may be missing from this list. D.S.W. dissertations first appear in ProQuest in 1955, although Franklin shows D.S.W. dissertation holdings starting with 1951.
  • Search terms are very loose: ethnonyms, language names, countries, cities. If a title or abstract lacks these terms, the dissertation might be overlooked.
  • Searches retrieve only those dissertations reported to ProQuest or UMI, its predecessor. Very recent dissertations may not have been received or processed by ProQuest.
  • Direct links into ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text provided by the list point to ProQuest records, which may or may not include full text.

Availability of Penn dissertations

  • Franklin, the Penn Library catalog, lists Penn dissertations with location, call number, and current availability information.
    Franklin provides separate records for print/microform and for ProQuest-hosted fulltext versions of dissertations. Franklin records for these formats provide different information: print/microform records will identify the degree-awarding department, fulltext records may provide abstracts. ProQuest's provision of cataloging for fulltext Penn dissertations has been inconsistent: many more fulltext Penn dissertations will be available in PQDT than Franklin indicates.
  • ScholarlyCommons: Repository, the institutional repository, includes Penn dissertations in fulltext, 1997 to the present. Access is provided from ProQuest.
  • ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text identifies Penn dissertations from the 19th century to the present and provides fulltext for Penn dissertations received by ProQuest/UMI from 1997 to the present, with many older Penn dissertations also provided, in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. NB. PDF files earlier than the past few years are typically page-image PDF, not searchable fulltext PDF.

Librarian & Coordinator of Social Sciences Collections

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Lauris Olson
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