Friday, August 17, 2007

Cheap Theses and Dissertations

Rick Brannon of Logos Bible Software (what a great resource for those of us who need to carry our libraries with us to the farthest parts of the world!) recently posted about the high cost of some academic publications and one possible way to get similar content for cheaper.

Rick's post was about a book that I have desired related to one of my latest interests in biblical studies, textual criticism. James Royse's dissertation, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri, is a groundbreaking study in textual criticism that is frequently referenced in current literature on the subject. And now we can buy it for just $369.00 from Brill! Ouch! Well, that's the difference between publishing 100,000 copies of a book that will end up in every bookstore around the world and printing only several hundred copies that will end up in every major university research library around the world (and in the personal libraries of a chosen few who deem the subject worthy of such expense).

But even for those of us who think the book might actually be worth it's weight in gold, what if we just don't have the gold? We can either find it in our local research library--but I'm a few thousand miles away from my local research library(!)--or we can follow Rick Brannon's suggestion. Royse's original 1981 dissertation of 751 pages is available from UMI Dissertation Express for $41.00 plus shipping. That's still quite a bit, but it's 89% off the price from Brill. Of course, we don't know how much the dissertation has been changed in the last 26 years. Royse has not been idle for the last quarter century.

This option for getting Royse's dissertation reminds me of another service that's available to get electronic copies of theological theses and dissertations. Theological Research Exchange Network, or TREN, sells graduate studies in PDF format for a relatively small price. For example, an M.A. thesis from Wheaton College Graduate School titled "Noachic Allusion and Echo in James 3.1-12: Implicatures of New Creation Eschatology" is available there for $15.00. That one was completed in 2002 by someone very close to me. Of course, I could give you a higher quality searchable PDF for free.

But something I just noticed for the first time yesterday is that TREN offers all of their titles for free to TREN authors...
And remember if you are the author of a title on this list or in the TREN E-Docs library ( and would like a free PDF copy of your file please write to me at to request your copy. I'll be glad to email it to you pronto. Also, as an author if you notice a title in the TREN Edocs library that you'd like to have let me know. It's yours for the asking. Many thanks for your participation in TREN.
I don't know how long that has been true. I have purchased a few TREN titles in the last year. But now I and any other TREN authors can get all the other titles for free.

If you're not a TREN author, there are other great deals I just learned about today. Some of their titles are always offered for FREE! And you don't have to buy the other titles individually for $15.00. A 6 month subscription costs $100.00 and allows you 25 titles ($4 each). A year's subscription is $200.00 and allows you 70 titles ($2.85 each). There's a deal there for libraries too.

Zyphyr update on August 26, 2007:
I have learned today that I was mistaken about TREN authors being able to get unlimited TREN e-docs for free. The offer is simply for a free copy of the author's own work plus ONE additional title. Sorry for the confusion!

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