I’m at home for a couple of days doing those final revisions to the book MS (so expect a flood of posts as I cheerfully procrastinate). Anyway, I was surfing around blogs and encountered one of those familiar comments along the lines of ‘no one ever reads dissertations’.
Well, this reminded me that my own PhD dissertation has been online at the site for quite a while, more recently joined by a number of my other pre- and post-PhD scholarly gabblings (see here). So is anyone reading them?
I checked out the 2006 stats. The PhD was viewed more than 1500 times during the year. (I am dumbfounded. I thought it’d be at most a couple of hundred, you know?) Even my MA thesis (which has only been up since about May 2006) got over 100 page views. The published articles I put online at about the same time as the MA got variously between 80 and 190 (but in any case, most of the people who’d be interested in those can probably get them quite easily in their university libraries).
So: it is possible to get your dissertation read by quite a few more people than your supervisor and examiners (advisor, committee, etc, depending on your university system). All you need to do is make it into a PDF, post it on your highly visible disciplinary website, and plug it shamelessly at every conceivable opportunity. Easy. (I always knew this website would come in handy.)
And quite seriously, if you have a PhD dissertation on an early modern topic (and in a suitable format – ie, word-processed file(s) – for turning into a PDF file) gathering dust somewhere and you think it deserves more readers, get in touch with me. I can probably find space for it on my server and link to it for you.
Of course, in an ideal world, we’d all have free-to-access online thesis repositories like the Canadians. But that’s another topic, and I’d better get back to work before I start ranting.