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Mastering MLA Dissertation Citations

Whether you're a student writing who use cheap dissertation writing service or a scholar publishing your own dissertation, citing sources correctly is crucial for academic integrity. When it comes to dissertations, the Modern Language Association (MLA) style is often preferred. However, with its detailed rules and guidelines, citing a dissertation in MLA format can seem daunting at first. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to properly citing a dissertation in MLA style, including in-text citations and works cited entries. By the end, you'll have a clear understanding of how to accurately reference dissertations following MLA guidelines.

MLA Dissertation Citation Guide: Properly Citing Your Sources

As a graduate student, one of the most important tasks you will face is writing your dissertation. This in-depth research project requires extensive use of sources, which must be properly cited in order to avoid plagiarism and give credit to the original authors. The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is commonly used in the humanities and liberal arts disciplines, and it provides guidelines for citing dissertations in both in-text and works cited pages. In this guide, we will outline the steps to referencing a dissertation in MLA style and provide some tips for citing your sources correctly.

Understanding MLA Guidelines for Citing Dissertations

Before we dive into the steps for citing a dissertation, it’s important to understand the general guidelines set forth by the MLA. According to the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), a dissertation is defined as “a work presented for completion of a doctoral degree” (118). It is considered a unique type of publication and therefore has specific rules for citation. Additionally, the MLA uses a system of parenthetical citations within the text and a corresponding works cited page for referencing sources.

Basic Rules for MLA Dissertation Citations

  • Include the author’s name in parentheses after a direct quotation or at the end of a paraphrase.
  • If there is more than one author, list them in the order they appear on the title page.
  • For a source with two authors, list both names connected by “and.”
  • For a source with three or more authors, list the first author followed by “et al.”
  • Include the title of the dissertation in quotation marks and capitalize the first word.
  • If the dissertation has a subtitle, include it after the title and follow the same capitalization rules as the title.
  • Include the name of the institution and the year of publication.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the MLA guidelines for citing dissertations, let’s look at the specific steps you should follow to properly cite your sources.

Steps to Referencing a Dissertation in MLA Style

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Information

Before you begin writing your dissertation, make sure you have all the necessary information for your citations. You will need the author’s name, the title of the dissertation, the name of the institution, and the year of publication. It’s also important to check with your institution or advisor for any specific requirements for citing dissertations in your particular field of study.

Step 2: In-Text Citations

In-text citations in MLA style are placed within parentheses at the end of the sentence where the information from the source is used. Additionally, if you mention the author’s name in the text, you do not need to include it in the parentheses. The general format for in-text citations for dissertations in MLA style is: (Author’s Last Name page number). For example: (Smith 104). If there is no page number available, use the title of the section or chapter instead.

Examples of In-Text Citations for Dissertations in MLA Style

Direct Quotation: According to Smith, “The impact of climate change on agricultural production cannot be ignored” (104).
Paraphrase: Smith argues that climate change has a significant effect on agricultural production (104).

Step 3: Works Cited Page

The works cited page in MLA style is a list of all the sources cited in your dissertation. It should be organized alphabetically by the author’s last name. The general format for citing a dissertation in MLA style on the works cited page is:

Example of Works Cited Page Entry for Dissertation in MLA Style

Dissertation Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Dissertation. Institution Name, Year of Publication.

If you are citing an online dissertation, include the URL after the institution name. If the dissertation is published in a database, include the name of the database and the accession or order number. Here are some examples of different types of citations on the works cited page for dissertations in MLA style:

Examples of Works Cited Page Entries for Different Types of Dissertations in MLA Style

Print Dissertation: Smith, John. The Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural Production. Radford University, 2019.
Online Dissertation: Smith, John. The Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural Production. Radford University, 2019. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses,
Dissertation from a Database: Smith, John. The Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural Production. Radford University, 2019. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Accessed 2 May 2019.

Step 4: Verify Sources and Check for Accuracy

Once you have completed your in-text citations and works cited page, make sure to double check all the sources you have cited. Verify that the information is correct and accurate, including spelling and formatting. This will ensure that your dissertation is properly cited and avoids any issues with plagiarism.

Quick Guide to MLA Dissertation Citations

Here is a quick summary of the steps for properly citing a dissertation in MLA style:

  • Gather all necessary information for the source.
  • Use parenthetical citations within the text.
  • Follow the general format for in-text citations: (Author’s Last Name page number).
  • Organize the works cited page alphabetically by author’s last name.
  • Use the general format for works cited page entries.
  • Verify sources for accuracy.

Tips for Citing a Dissertation in MLA Style

In addition to following the general guidelines for MLA citations, here are some tips to keep in mind when citing dissertations:

  • Check with your institution or advisor for any specific requirements for citing dissertations in your field of study.
  • Keep track of all sources used in your dissertation to ensure proper citation.
  • Be consistent with formatting and punctuation throughout your citations.
  • If you are unsure about how to cite a particular source, consult the MLA Handbook or ask your professor for guidance.

How to Cite a Dissertation in MLA: A Quick Reference

Need a quick reference for MLA dissertation citations? Here is a useful guide from Radford University’s Writing Center on how to cite a dissertation in MLA. This helpful resource provides examples of both in-text citations and works cited page entries for different types of dissertations. It also includes tips for formatting and abbreviating titles in your citations.


Properly citing your sources is essential in any academic writing, and this includes dissertations. Using the MLA style, you can easily and accurately cite your sources to give credit where it is due and avoid plagiarism. By following the general guidelines and using some helpful tips, you can confidently cite dissertations in MLA format and produce a well-researched dissertation as a graduate student.

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In conclusion, it is crucial for students and researchers to properly cite a dissertation in MLA format. The steps outlined in this guide provide a clear and concise way to reference a dissertation in MLA style. By following the guidelines and rules set by MLA, one can ensure that they are giving credit to the original source and avoiding plagiarism. Use of proper in-text citations and formatting for dissertations is essential in maintaining academic integrity and credibility. We hope that this article has provided a helpful and straightforward overview of MLA dissertation citation and will assist you in your future research endeavors. Remember to always refer to the official MLA handbook for any specific questions or concerns regarding citing dissertations in MLA format. Happy citing!


  • tommyperry

    I'm Tommy Perry, a 55-year-old educational blogger who enjoys traveling. I've been writing about education since 2012, and I hope to continue doing so for as long as I can. I also enjoy cooking and spending time with family and friends.

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