Step-by-Step Approach to Dissertation Citation

Like all academic papers, dissertations are based on research and thus require references to credit the sources used to structure your argument. Existing theses and dissertations are great sources on which to base your arguments. 

While students are familiar with citing books, journals, and publications, many students are unfamiliar with dissertation citing. With many citation formats to select from, students can be easily overwhelmed in formatting their papers, thus losing points to poor referencing.

This article will guide you on citing a dissertation and highlight various styles of dissertation citations required for your papers. 

Why is dissertation citing important?

Although many students are aware of the relevance of citations in essays, many often consider citations as unnecessary, unbearable modalities meant to inspire panic. However, this is far from the case.

References play a big role in essays as they help to:

  • Show the extent of research that you performed when preparing your argument
  • Avoid plagiarism 
  • Credit the owners of sources you’ve used in your thesis/ dissertation
  • Direct readers to various resources they can use to further investigate an idea that you’ve covered in your thesis.

How to cite a doctoral dissertation

Dissertations and thesis are crucial for supporting various claims in your paper. As such, you must master how to write a dissertation citation to avoid penalties related to plagiarism.

This guide should come in handy to help you cite a dissertation in various formats. 

How to cite a dissertation in APA format

The APA style is popular among the social science and education fields. This style is quite common for college-level work and is thus essential for you to master.

The format for an APA dissertation citation is:

 Author’s surname, I.J. (Year of publication). Title of the dissertation. Name of the institution.


Pan, P,g. (2001). How to end piracy. University of Neverland.

For unpublished dissertation, the works cited entry may appear as:

Pan, P,g. (2001). How to end piracy (unpublished dissertation). University of Neverland.

Conversely, published work will appear as:

Author’s surname, I.J. (Year of publication). Title of the dissertation. (document number). (degree type, Name of the institution). Database name.


Pan, P,g. (2001). How to end piracy (567684763). Ph.D. University of Neverland. Capt hook theses and dissertations.

How to Cite a Dissertation in MLA Format

The Modern Language Association (MLA) is popular in humanities and arts. The basic MLA reference entry will appear as:

Last name, first name. Title. Diss. Name of the institution, year of publication. Web. Date accessed

Intext: (last name)

The dissertation citation for an unpublished piece should be written as:

Last name, first name, “Title of dissertation.” Diss. Place of study, year. Title of database. Web. Date, month, year of accessing the document.


Pan, Peter. “How to end piracy.” Diss. University of Neverland, 2001. Hook dissertations and theses. Web. 18 February 2022.

In contrast, citations for published pieces in MLA should be written as:

Last name, first name. Title of diss. Diss. Place of study. Year. Place of publication. Publisher. Year of publication.


Pan, Peter. “How to end piracy.” Diss. University of Neverland, 2001. Neverland. Hook dissertations and theses. 2001.

How to Cite a Dissertation in Chicago Format

Chicago is closely related with the MLA citation style with exception of the included database identification number. The format for a Chicago Dissertation citation will appear as:

Last name, first name. “thesis/ dissertation title”. Ph.D. diss./ masters thesis, institution. Year. Database (identification number).


Pan, Peter. “How to stop piracy”. Ph.D. diss. University of Neverland. 2001. Hook dissertation and theses. (66978321).

How to cite a dissertation in Turabian

Turabian is very much similar with MLA. When quoting a dissertation from the web in Turabian, you will present it in your reference section as:

First name last name, “Title of the dissertation”. (masters thesis/ Ph. D. diss, university name, year of publication), page number, url.

Are citations part of the word count of a dissertation? 

No. Citations do not tally in the total word count as they are not part of your argument, rather indicators of sources used in supporting your argument. As such, consider exceeding the prescribed word count with some characters to compensate for variations in text citations used in your work. 

Can you use citations in the introduction of your paper?

Citations should be used in any instance you have quoted work from another author be it in the body or the introduction. 

Final take

Citations do not have to stir anxiety as you write your dissertation. This guide should come in handy to help you familiarize yourself with various styles to cite a dissertation thus ensuring the integrity of your paper. 

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