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How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

In this citation guide, you will learn how to reference and cite an undergraduate thesis, master’s thesis, or doctoral dissertation. This guide will also review the differences between a thesis or dissertation that is published and one that has remained unpublished. The guidelines below come from the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020a), pages 333 and 334. Please note that the association is not affiliated with this guide.

Alternatively, you can visit EasyBib.com for helpful citation tools to cite your thesis or dissertation .

Guide Overview

Citing an unpublished thesis or dissertation, citing a published dissertation or thesis from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation: reference overview, what you need.

Since unpublished theses can usually only be sourced in print form from a university library, the correct citation structure includes the university name where the publisher element usually goes.

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case [Unpublished degree type thesis or dissertation]. Name of institution.

Ames, J. H., & Doughty, L. H. (1911). The proposed plans for the Iowa State College athletic field including the design of a reinforced concrete grandstand and wall [Unpublished bachelor’s thesis]. Iowa State University.

In-text citation example:

  • Parenthetical :  (Ames & Doughty, 1911)
  • Narrative :  Ames & Doughty (1911)

If a thesis or dissertation has been published and is found on a database, then follow the structure below. It’s similar to the format for an unpublished dissertation/thesis, but with a few differences:

  • The institution is presented in brackets after the title
  • The archive or database name is included

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case (Publication or Document No.) [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Database name.

Examples 1:

Knight, K. A. (2011). Media epidemics: Viral structures in literature and new media (Accession No. 2013420395) [Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Example dissertation-thesis

Trotman, J.B. (2018). New insights into the biochemistry and cell biology of RNA recapping (Document No. osu1523896565730483) [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center.

In the example given above, the dissertation is presented with a Document Number (Document No.). Sometimes called a database number or publication number, this is the identifier that is used by the database’s indexing system. If the database you are using provides you with such a number, then include it directly after the work’s title in parentheses.

If you are interested in learning more about how to handle works that were accessed via academic research databases, see Section 9.3 of the Publication Manual.

In-text citation examples :

  • Parenthetical citation : (Trotman, 2018)
  • Narrative citation : Trotman (2018)

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year Published). Title in sentence case [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Name of archive or collection. URL

Kim, O. (2019). Soviet tableau: cinema and history under late socialism [Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh]. Institutional Repository at the University of Pittsburgh. https://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/37669/7/Olga%20Kim%20Final%20ETD.pdf

Stiles, T. W. (2001). Doing science: Teachers’ authentic experiences at the Lone Star Dinosaur Field Institute [Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University]. OAKTrust. https://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-2001-THESIS-S745

It is important to note that not every thesis or dissertation published online will be associated with a specific archive or collection. If the work is published on a private website, provide only the URL as the source element.

In-text citation examples:

  • Parenthetical citation : (Kim, 2019)
  • Narrative citation : Kim (2019)
  • Parenthetical citation : (Stiles, 2001)
  • Narrative citation : Stiles (2001)
Unpublished Author last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). [Unpublished degree type thesis or dissertation]. Name of institution Ames, J.H., & Doughty, L.H (1911). [Unpublished bachelor’s thesis]. Iowa State University.
Published from a database Author last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). (Publication or Document No.) [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Database name. Trotman, J.B. (2018). (Document No. osu1523896565730483) [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University]. OhioLINK Electronic Thesis & Dissertations Center
Published online but not from a database Author last name, First initial. Middle initial. (Year Published). [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Name of archive or collection. URL Kim, O. (2019). [Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh]. Institutional Repository at the University of Pittsburgh. http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/37669/7/Olga%20Kim%20Final%20ETD.pdf

dissertation and thesis Citations for APA 7

We hope that the information provided here will serve as an effective guide for your research. If you’re looking for even more citation info, visit EasyBib.com for a comprehensive collection of educational materials covering multiple source types.

If you’re citing a variety of different sources, consider taking the EasyBib citation generator for a spin. It can help you cite easily and offers citation forms for several different kinds of sources.

To start things off, let’s take a look at the different types of literature that are classified under Chapter 10.6 of the Publication Manual :

  • Undergraduate thesis
  • Master’s thesis
  • Doctoral dissertation

You will need to know which type you are citing. You’ll also need to know if it is published or unpublished .

When you decide to cite a dissertation or thesis, you’ll need to look for the following information to use in your citation:

  • Author’s last name, and first and middle initials
  • Year published
  • Title of thesis or dissertation
  • If it is unpublished
  • Publication or document number (if applicable; for published work)
  • Degree type (bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral)
  • Thesis or dissertation
  • Name of institution awarding degree
  • DOI (https://doi.org/xxxxx) or URL (if applicable)

Since theses and dissertations are directly linked to educational degrees, it is necessary to list the name of the associated institution; i.e., the college, university, or school that is awarding the associated degree.

To get an idea of the proper form, take a look at the examples below. There are three outlined scenarios:

  • Unpublished thesis or dissertation
  • Published thesis or dissertation from a database
  • Thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database

American Psychological Association. (2020a). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

American Psychological Association. (2020b). Style-Grammar-Guidelines. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/basic-principles/parenthetical-versus-narrative

Published August 10, 2012. Updated March 24, 2020.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

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To cite a published thesis in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, publication year, title of the thesis, institute name, archive name, and URL (uniform resource locator). The templates for an in-text citation and reference list entry of a thesis, along with examples, are given below:

In-text citation template and example:

Use the author surname and the publication year in the in-text citation.

Author Surname (Publication Year)

Cartmel (2007)

Parenthetical:

(Author Surname, Publication Year)

(Cartmel, 2007)

Reference list entry template and example:

The title of the thesis is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose the thesis and the institute awarding the degree inside brackets following the publication year. Then add the name of the database followed by the URL.

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the thesis [Master’s thesis, Institute Name]. Name of the Database. URL

Cartmel, J. (2007). Outside school hours care and schools [Master’s thesis, Queensland University of Technology]. EPrints. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/17810/1/Jennifer_Cartmel_Thesis.pdf

To cite an unpublished dissertation in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, year, title of the dissertation, and institute name. The templates for in-text citation and reference list entry of an online thesis, along with examples, are given below:

Author Surname (Year)

Averill (2009)

(Author Surname, Year)

(Averill, 2009)

The title of the dissertation is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose “Unpublished doctoral dissertation” inside brackets following the year. Then add the name of the institution awarding the degree.

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Name of the Institute.

Averill, R. (2009). Teacher–student relationships in diverse New Zealand year 10 mathematics classrooms: Teacher care [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Victoria University of Wellington.

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Author, A. A.

 

 (year).

[Unpublished doctoral dissertation/master’s thesis].

 

Name of Institution Awarding the Degree

 

Author, A. A.

 

(year).

[Doctoral dissertation, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree].

  [Master’s thesis, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree].

 

Database Name. 

Archive Name.

https://xxxx...

 

Adapted from American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed).  https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

Formatting:

  • Italicize the title
  • Identify whether source is doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis in parentheses after the title

Thesis, from a commercial database

(Order No. 3682837) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. 

Dissertation, from an institutional database

Andrea, H. (2014). (Doctoral dissertation). https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

Unpublished master’s thesis

Curry, J.  (2016).  (Unpublished master’s thesis).  Pacific Oaks College.

See Ch. 10 pp. 313-352 of APA Manual for more examples and formatting rules

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Thesis - from database.

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Elements of the reference

Author - last name, initial(s). (Year). [Doctoral dissertation or Master's thesis, Institution]. Archive name. http://www.xxxxxx

In-text reference

(Axford, 2007)

Axford (2007) found that ....

Reference list

Axford, J.C. (2007).  [Doctoral dissertation, University of Queensland]. UQ eSpace. http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:158747

EndNote reference type

Thesis

Add Archive Name to Name of Database field.

Elements of the reference

Author - last name, initials. (Year).  (Publication No. - if available) [Doctoral dissertation or master's thesis, Institution]. Database Name. 

In-text reference

(Leigh, 2010)

Leigh (2010) reported that ....

Reference list

Leigh, J. (2010).  (Publication No. 305210119) [Doctoral dissertation, Indiana State University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

EndNote reference type

Thesis

Add Publication Number to Document Number field.

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Citing Dissertations & Theses in APA Format

Author Date Title (SOURCE) Institution (SOURCE) Database Name (SOURCE) URL
Author, A. A.  (2018).

[Unpublished master's thesis].

[Unpublished doctoral dissertation].

(Publication No. xx) [Doctoral dissertation, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree].

Name of Institution Awarding the Degree.

found in Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global).

Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global.

https://www.xx.xxxx

Dissertations & Theses

Dissertations and theses are formatted the same way in APA 7th edition. Theses are generally the culminating work for a master's or undergraduate degree and dissertations are often original research completed by doctoral students. Here are examples of a dissertation & a thesis, and how they would be formatted: 

Examples: 

Dissertation found in Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global: 

Reference:  

Banks, B. (2020). Addressing institutional racism in healthcare: A case study (Publication No. 28154307) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota]. Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global. 

In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):  

(Banks, 2020).

In-Text Citation (Direct Quote):

(Banks, 2020, p. 157).

Master's thesis from a University scholarship database: 

Sears, L. B. (2017). The public voice and sustainable food systems: Community engagement in food action plans [Unpublished master's thesis]. University of Kansas.  https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/26899  

In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):

(Sears, 2017). 

(Sears, 2017, p. 24). 

Carrie Forbes, MLS

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Citation information has been adapted from the APA Manual (7th Edition). Please refer to page 333 of the APA Manual (7th Edition) for more information.

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Thesis or Dissertation

Below you will find guidance and examples of how to set out a reference for a Thesis or Dissertation in the body of your work and in the reference list at the end.

In text citations

In-text citation requires that the last name of the author and the year of publication be inserted into the text.

Miranda (2019) questions whether... OR ....(Miranda, 2019).

Published Thesis or  Dissertation

Last name, Initial(s). (Year). Title of doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation or Master’s thesis, Name of Institution]. Name of database. URL

Miranda, C. (2019). Exploring the lived experiences of foster youth who obtained graduate level degrees: Self-efficacy, resilience, and the impact on identity development (Publication No. 27542827) [Doctoral dissertation, Pepperdine University]. PQDT Open. https://pqdtopen.proquest.com/doc/2309521814.html?FMT=AI

Wolton, J. L. (2018). "We are probably Wales' best kept secret": An exploration of the role of Care & Repair Cymru caseworkers in facilitating independent living for older people in Wales (Publication No. 27792563). [Doctoral dissertation, Swansea University]. Swansea University Repository. https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa49017

Unpublished Thesis or  Dissertation

Last name, Initial(s). (Year). Title of Doctoral dissertation or Master’s thesis [Unpublished Doctoral dissertation or Master’s thesis). Name of Institution.

Pope, S. (2013). Parental participation in the child protection process [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Swansea University.

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Terminology - Thesis, dissertation or exegesis?

Published theses and dissertations, unpublished theses and dissertations.

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Thesis and dissertation can mean different things depending on where the degree is awarded. Always check the title page, or subsequent pages, to determine exactly what the work is and use the information for your reference. ​

Auckland University of Technology (and other NZ universities)

  • Thesis is either for a doctoral or a master's degree.
  • Dissertation is either for a master's or a bachelor's degree with honours.
  • Exegesis is the written component of a practice-based thesis where the major output is a creative work;  e.g., a film, artwork, novel.

Other parts of the world

  • In North America and some other countries, dissertation is used for a doctoral degree and thesis for a master's degree.

Theses available in a database, a university archive or from a personal website.

Reference format

Author, A. A. (Year).  (Publication No. ) [Doctoral dissertation/Doctoral thesis/Master's dissertation/Master's thesis, Institution Name].

Database Name.  URL

Archive Name.  URL

Theses published online (e.g. in institutional repositories)

Miller, T. (2019). [Master's thesis, Auckland University of Technology]. Tuwhera. 

Kelly, C. B. D. (2018). [Doctoral thesis, The University of Waikato]. The University of Waikato Research Commons. 

Theses from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global

Becker, J. C. (2013). (Publication No. 3577776) [Doctoral dissertation, Graduate Council of Texas State University - San Marcos]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Find how to cite in text on the  In-text citation  page.

 Unpublished thesis or dissertations are usually sourced directly from the university in print form.

 Reference format

Author, A. A. (Year). [Unpublished doctoral or master's thesis or dissertation].

Name of the Institution awarding the degree.

Stewart, Y. (2000).  [Unpublished master's thesis]. Auckland University of Technology.

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Citation guides

All you need to know about citations

How to cite a master's thesis in APA

APA masters thesis citation

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To cite a master's thesis in a reference entry in APA style 6th edition include the following elements:

  • Author(s) of the thesis: Give the last name and initials (e. g. Watson, J. D.) of up to seven authors with the last name preceded by an ampersand (&). For eight or more authors include the first six names followed by an ellipsis (…) and add the last author's name.
  • Year of publication: Give the year in brackets followed by a full stop.
  • Title of the master's thesis: Only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.
  • URL: Give the full URL where the document can be retrieved from.

Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a master's thesis in APA style 6th edition:

Author(s) of the thesis . ( Year of publication ). Title of the master's thesis (Master's thesis). Retrieved from URL

If the thesis is available from a database, archive or any online platform use the following template:

  • Author(s) of the thesis: Give the last name and initials (e. g. Watson, J. D.) of up to 20 authors with the last name preceded by an ampersand (&). For 21 or more authors include the first 19 names followed by an ellipsis (…) and add the last author's name.
  • Title of the Master's thesis: Only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.
  • Publication number: Give the identification number of the thesis, if available.
  • Name of the degree awarding institution: Give the name of the institution.
  • Name of Platform: Give the name of the database, archive or any platform that holds the thesis.
  • URL: If the thesis was found on a database, omit this element.

Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a master's thesis in APA style 7th edition:

Author(s) of the thesis . ( Year of publication ). Title of the Master's thesis ( Publication number ) [Master's thesis, Name of the degree awarding institution ]. Name of Platform . URL

If the thesis has not been published or is available from a database use the following template:

  • Location: Give the location of the institution. If outside the United States also include the country name.

Author(s) of the thesis . ( Year of publication ). Title of the master's thesis (Unpublished master's thesis). Name of the degree awarding institution , Location .

If the thesis is not published, use the following template:

Author(s) of the thesis . ( Year of publication ). Title of the master's thesis [Unpublished master's thesis]. Name of the degree awarding institution .

APA reference list examples

Take a look at our reference list examples that demonstrate the APA style guidelines for a master's thesis citation in action:

A master's thesis found in an online platform

Bauger, L . ( 2011 ). Personality, passion, self-esteem and psychological well-being among junior elite athletes in Norway ( Master's Thesis ). Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/29a9/ef96c34e577211246b83b11813a2585033c5.pdf
Bauger, L . ( 2011 ). Personality, passion, self-esteem and psychological well-being among junior elite athletes in Norway [ Master's Thesis , University of Tromsø ]. Semantic Scholar . https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/29a9/ef96c34e577211246b83b11813a2585033c5.pdf

An unpublished master's thesis

Aube, K. E . ( 2019 ). A comparison of water main failure prediction models in San Luis Obispo, CA ( Unpublished master's thesis ). Cal Poly , San Luis Obispo, CA .
Aube, K. E . ( 2019 ). A comparison of water main failure prediction models in San Luis Obispo, CA [ Unpublished master's thesis ]. Cal Poly .

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This citation style guide is based on the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association ( 6 th edition).

More useful guides

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apa referencing for a thesis

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Basic format to reference a thesis or dissertation.

  • Referencing theses: Examples

The basics of a reference list entry for a thesis or dissertation:

  • Author. The surname is followed by first initials.
  • Year (in round brackets).
  • Title (in italics ).
  • Level of Thesis or Dissertation [in square brackets].
  • University, also in [square brackets] following directly after the Level of Thesis, for e.g. [Doctoral dissertation, Victoria University]
  • Database or Archive Name
  • The first line of each citation is left adjusted. Every subsequent line is indented 5-7 spaces.

Mosek, E. (2017). Team flow: The missing piece in performance [Doctoral dissertation, Victoria University]. Victoria University Research Repository. http://vuir.vu.edu.au/35038/

apa referencing for a thesis

Material Type In-Text Example Reference List Example
According to Mosek (2017) “flow was considered a highly functional state” ( p. 6) .  [Doctoral dissertation, Victoria University]. Victoria University Research Repository. http://vuir.vu.edu.au/35038/

 

… research is required to fill in gaps in our knowledge (Smith, 2018). (Publication No. 10746190) [Doctoral dissertation, Drake University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. 

Tsao (2016) compared populations in Kentucky and Taiwan.  [Master’s thesis, University of Kentucky]. UKnowledge. https://uknowledge.uky.edu/foodsci_etds/47/

If an author's first name is hyphenated, as in Shu-Feng Tsao above, retain the hyphen and include a full stop after each initial but no space.

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Format for dissertations and theses

Dissertations and theses database.

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Author last name, first initial. (Year).  Title of dissertation/thesis  (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis, University]. Database. URL

  • Author:  List the last name, followed by the first initial (and second initial). See  Authors  for more information.
  • Year:  List the year between parentheses, followed by a period.
  • Title of dissertation/thesis:  In italics. Capitalize the first word of the title, subtitle, and proper nouns.
  • Publication number: Can be found in Dissertations and Theses database, listed in the item record as “Dissertation/thesis number.”
  • Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis:  List whether it is a dissertation or a thesis.
  • University:  List the university associated with the dissertation/thesis.
  • Database:  List database the dissertation/thesis was found in, if found in a database.
  • URL:  List URL if found on the free Web rather than in a database.

See specific examples below.

Dissertations:

Pecore, J. T. (2004). Sounding the spirit of Cambodia: The living tradition of Khmer music and dance-drama in a Washington, DC community  (Publication No. 3114720) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. 

Master's Theses:

Hollander, M. M. (2017). Resitance to authority: Methodological innovations and new lessons from the Milgram experiment   (Publication No. 10289373) [Master's thesis, University of Wisconsin - Madison]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

APA calls for the citation to include a unique identifying number for the dissertation, labeling it “Publication No.” That number can be found in Dissertations and Theses database, listed in the item record as “Dissertation/thesis number.”

Karamanos, X. (2020). The influence of professional development models on student mathematics performance in New Jersey public elementary schools [Doctoral dissertation, Seton Hall University]. Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). https://scholarship.shu.edu/dissertations/2732

Bordo, V. C. (2011). Making a case for the use of foreign language in the educational activities of nonprofit arts organizations [Master's thesis, University of Akron]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=akron1311135640

Caprette, C. L. (2005). Conquering the cold shudder: The origin and evolution of snake eyes  [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University].

Angelova, A. N. (2004). Data pruning  [Master's thesis, California Institute of Technology].

See  Publication Manual , 10.6.

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American Psychological Association

References provide the information necessary for readers to identify and retrieve each work cited in the text .

Check each reference carefully against the original publication to ensure information is accurate and complete. Accurately prepared references help establish your credibility as a careful researcher and writer.

Consistency in reference formatting allows readers to focus on the content of your reference list, discerning both the types of works you consulted and the important reference elements (who, when, what, and where) with ease. When you present each reference in a consistent fashion, readers do not need to spend time determining how you organized the information. And when searching the literature yourself, you also save time and effort when reading reference lists in the works of others that are written in APA Style.

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In-text citation

Reference list.

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Theses and dissertations

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This was seen in an Australian study (Couch, 2017). 

Couch (2017) suggests that…

  • Go to  Getting started >  In-text citation  to view other examples such as multiple authors.

Published thesis

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of thesis [Type of thesis, Name of institution awarding degree]. Name of archive or site. https://xxxxxx

Stored in a database

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of thesis (Database Publication number, if assigned) [Type of thesis, Name of institution awarding degree]. Database Name.

Taffe, S. (2017).  The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders: The politics of inter-racial coalition in Australia, 1958–1973  [Doctoral thesis, Monash University]. Bridges.  https://doi.org/10.4225/03/59d4482289ea4

Bozeman, A. Jr. (2007).  Age of onset as predictor of cognitive performance in children with seizure disorders  (Publication No. 3259752) [Doctoral dissertation, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Unpublished thesis

Author, A. A. (Year).  Title of thesis or dissertation  [Unpublished Doctoral dissertation or Master's thesis]. Name of Institution.

Imber, A. (2003).  Applicant reactions to graduate recruitment and selection  [Unpublished Doctoral dissertation]. Monash University. 

For further guidance, see the APA Style website- Published Dissertation or Thesis , Unpublished Dissertation or Theses .

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Author Stream

How to Cite a Thesis in APA: A Comprehensive Guide to Proper Citations

Citing a thesis in APA format is a critical skill for students and researchers alike. This blog post will guide you through the essentials of APA citation for theses, ensuring your academic work adheres to widely accepted standards.

The American Psychological Association (APA) citation style is commonly used in the social sciences, education, and psychology fields. It provides a consistent framework for referencing sources, including theses.

Key Components of a Thesis Citation in APA

Key Components of a Thesis Citation in APA

An APA citation for a thesis includes several key components: the author’s name, publication year, thesis title, university name, and the URL or database name (if applicable).

These elements are arranged in a specific order and format to ensure clarity and uniformity in scholarly communication. Understanding and correctly applying these components is crucial for accurate and ethical academic writing.

Why Accurate Citation Matters

Accurate citation is vital for several reasons. It acknowledges the original author’s work, provides readers with the context and sources of your research, and helps avoid plagiarism. Proper citation is not just a formal requirement; it’s a sign of academic integrity and respect within the research community.

For expert assistance in crafting your thesis and ensuring accurate APA citations, consider the specialized services offered at thesisrush.com , a resource dedicated to supporting students with their academic writing challenges.

Step-by-Step Guide to Citing a Thesis in APA

1. formatting the author’s name and publication year.

When citing a thesis in APA format, begin with the author’s last name followed by a comma, then the initial(s) of their first and middle names (if available).

After the author’s name, include the publication year in parentheses. This information is crucial as it identifies the thesis’s creator and the time of its creation, helping readers locate the source.

2. Citing the Thesis Title and University Name

Next, include the title of the thesis in sentence case, capitalizing only the first word and any proper nouns. Italicize the title to distinguish it from other elements of the citation.

Following the title, state the name of the university where the thesis was submitted. This detail provides context about the academic environment in which the research was conducted.

3. Including the URL or Database Name

If the thesis is available online, conclude the citation with the URL or the name of the database where it can be found.

This information is crucial in the digital age, as it allows readers to access the source material directly. Make sure the URL is accurate and leads to the specific document to ensure ease of access for your audience.

Examples of Thesis Citations in APA Format

Examples of Thesis Citations in APA Format

Citing an Unpublished Thesis

When citing an unpublished thesis, the format slightly differs from a published one. An example of an unpublished thesis citation in APA format would be:

  • Doe, J. (2020). Exploring Behavioral Patterns in Early Childhood Education (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Education.

This example demonstrates how to format each element, from the author’s name to the university’s name, for an unpublished thesis.

Citing a Published Thesis from a Database

For a published thesis retrieved from a database, the citation includes the database name or URL. An example is:

  • Smith, A. B. (2018). A Comparative Study of Cognitive Development in Children (Doctoral dissertation, University of Psychology). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

This citation shows the inclusion of the database where the thesis can be accessed, a crucial detail for published theses.

Citing an Online Thesis

Citing a thesis found online requires including the direct URL. An example of this citation is:

  • Lee, C. (2019). Innovative Teaching Methods in Higher Education. The University of Learning. Retrieved from (here you will insert URL)

This example illustrates the format for citing a thesis available on a university’s digital repository, emphasizing the inclusion of a retrievable URL.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Inaccurate author details.

One common mistake is inaccurately recording the author’s name or initials. Always double-check these details against the original source to ensure accuracy.

Incorrect Title Formatting

Another error is incorrect title formatting. Remember, the thesis title should be in sentence case and italicized. Paying attention to these details is crucial for consistency in APA citations.

Overlooking the University Name and URL

Omitting the university name or the URL (for online theses) can lead to incomplete citations. Ensure every element of the citation is included and correctly formatted.

Advanced Tips

Advanced Tips

Incorporating Direct Quotes from a Thesis

When including direct quotes from a thesis, it’s important to provide page numbers in the citation. This helps readers locate the specific part of the thesis you’re referencing. For instance:

  • Doe, J. (2020). Exploring Behavioral Patterns in Early Childhood Education (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Education. (p. 45).

This citation shows how to incorporate a page number, enhancing the accuracy and usefulness of your reference.

Citing a Thesis with Multiple Authors

In cases where a thesis has multiple authors, list them in the order they appear in the source. Use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name. For example:

  • Doe, J., & Smith, A. B. (2018). A Comparative Study of Cognitive Development in Children. University of Psychology.

This format acknowledges all contributors, maintaining the integrity of your citation.

Handling Missing Information

Sometimes, certain information like the publication year or university name might be missing. In such cases, use placeholders like “n.d.” (no date) or provide as much information as possible. Be thorough in your search for information to minimize these occurrences.

Utilizing APA Citation Tools and Resources

Online generators.

There are numerous online tools available to assist with APA citation. These generators can automatically format your references, but it’s important to double-check their accuracy. Examples include Citation Machine and BibMe.

Academic Databases and Libraries

Academic databases and university libraries often provide guides and resources for APA citation. Utilizing these resources ensures that your citations are aligned with the latest APA standards.

Consultation with Instructors or Librarians

When in doubt, consulting with your instructor or a librarian can provide clarity and ensure that your citations are correct. Their expertise can be invaluable, especially for complex or unusual citation scenarios.

Concluding Thoughts

How to Cite a Thesis in APA A Comprehensive Guide to Proper Citations (1)

Mastering APA citations for theses is a fundamental skill for students and researchers. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the process, from understanding the basics to correctly formatting each citation component.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your academic work adheres to the highest standards of scholarly communication , maintaining integrity and credibility in your field.

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Thesis/Dissertation – APA Reference List

Capitalization.

  • The document title is in sentence case – Only the first word and proper nouns in the title are capitalized. Always capitalize the first word, the first word after a colon or a dash.
  • The title of the thesis or dissertation is in title case – Each word in the name is capitalized, except for articles (a, an, the), prepositions (against, between, in, of, to), conjunctions (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet), and the infinitive 'to'.

Thesis/Dissertation – Unpublished/Print version

For papers written in United States list City and State. For countries outside United States list City and Country.

Author , A . A . ( Year ). Title of dissertation/thesis  (Unpublished doctoral dissertation [OR] Unpublished master's thesis). Academic Institution , City , State [OR] Country .

  • Considine, M. (1986). Australian insurance politics in the 1970s: Two case studies . (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Kassover,A. (1987). Treatment of abusive males: Voluntary vs. court-mandated referrals (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Nova University, Fort Lauderdale, FL. 

Thesis/Dissertation – From a commercial database (e.g., ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database)

Author , A ( Year ). Title of dissertation/thesis (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Name of database . ( Accession or Order Number )

Cooley, T. (2009).  Design, development, and implementation of a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN): The Hartford Job Corps Academy case study (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3344745)

Thesis/Dissertation – Institutional Database (i.e. University website)

For U.S. thesis do not include university or locations. Include the university and location (City and Country) for a non-U.S. online thesis.

Author , A . A . ( Year ). Title of dissertation/thesis (Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis). Retrieved from http:// url.com

  • Adams, R. J. (1973). Building a foundation for evaluation of instruction in higher education and continuing education (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd/
  • Barua, S. (2010). Drought assessment and forecasting using a nonlinear aggregated drought index  (Doctoral dissertation, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia). Retrieved from http://vuir.vu.edu.au/1598

Thesis/Dissertation – Web

For U.S. thesis do not include locations. Include the location (City and Country) for a non-U.S. online thesis.

Author , A . A . ( Year ). Title of dissertation/thesis (Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis, Institution issuing degree). Retrieved from http:// www.url.com

  • Bruckman, A. (1997). MOOSE Crossing: Construction, community, and learning in a networked virtual world for kids (Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Retrieved from http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/~asb/thesis

apa referencing for a thesis

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Reference List: Other Print Sources

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

Note:  This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style  can be found here .

Important Note: Because the 7 th edition of the APA Publication Manual heavily emphasizes digital and electronic sources, it does not contain explicit instructions for certain less-common print sources that earlier editions covered. For this reason, some of the examples below have been adapted from the instructions for sources with similar attributes (e.g., the conference proceedings example is derived from the instructions the 7 th edition manual gives for citing edited collections). Every example below that has been adapted in this way is accompanied by a note explaining how it was adapted.

Please also note: While this resource contains many examples of citations for uncommon print sources that we think are helpful, it may not account for every possibility. For even more examples of how to cite uncommon print sources, please refer to the 7 th edition of the APA Publication Manual.

Entry in a Dictionary, Thesaurus, or Encyclopedia with a Group Author

The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide specific guidance on how to cite physical reference works such as dictionaries, thesauruses, or encyclopedias. Therefore, this citation, as well as the one for an individual author of an entry in a reference work, is modeled on that of a chapter in an edited book or anthology, both which are similar in format to reference works.

Institution or organization name. (Year). Title of entry. In Title of reference work (edition, page numbers). Publisher name.

Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. (1997). Goat. In Merriam Webster’s collegiate dictionary (10 th ed., pp. 499-500). Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

Entry in a Dictionary, Thesaurus, or Encyclopedia with an Individual Author

Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of entry. In F. M. Lastname (ed.), Title of reference work (edition, page numbers). Publisher.

Tatum, S. R. (2009). Spirituality and religion in hip hop literature and culture. In T. L. Stanley (ed.), Encyclopedia of hip hop literature (pp. 250-252). Greenwood.

Work Discussed in a Secondary Source

Provide the source in which the original work was referenced:

Nail, T. (2017). What is an assemblage? SubStance , 46 (1), 21-37. http://sub.uwpress.org/lookup/doi/10.3368/ss.46.1.21

Note: Provide the secondary source in the references list; in the text, name the original work, and give a citation for the secondary source. For example, if Deleuze and Guattari’s work is cited in Nail and you did not read the original work, list the Nail reference in the References. In the text, use the following citation: 

Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the assemblage (as cited in Nail, 2017)….

Dissertation Abstract

The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide specific guidance on how to cite dissertation abstracts. Therefore, this citation models that of a journal article, which is similar in format.

Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation. Dissertation Abstracts International , Vol., Page.

Angeli, E. L. (2012). Networks of communication in emergency medical services. Dissertation Abstracts International, 74 , 03(E).

Dissertation or Master’s Thesis, Published

Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master’s thesis, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree]. Database or Archive Name.

Angeli, E. L. (2012). Networks of communication in emergency medical services (Publication No. 3544643) [Doctoral dissertation, Purdue University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Note: If the dissertation or thesis is not published in a database, include the URL of the site where the document is located.

Dissertation or Master’s Thesis, Unpublished

Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis [Unpublished doctoral dissertation/master’s thesis]. Name of Institution Awarding the Degree. 

Samson, J. M. (2016). Human trafficking and globalization [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Federal or State Statute

Name of Act, Public Law No. (Year). URL

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Publ. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010).  https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-111publ148/pdf/PLAW-111publ148.pdf

Report by a Government Agency or Other Organization

Organization Name. (Year). Title of report. URL

United States Government Accountability Office. (2019). Performance and accountability report: Fiscal year 2019 . https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/702715.pdf

Report by Individual Authors at Government Agency or Other Organization

Lastname, F. M., & Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of report . Organization Name. URL

Palanker, D., Volk, J., Lucia, K., & Thomas, K. (2018). Mental health parity at risk: Deregulating the individual market and the impact on mental health coverage . National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/Publications-Reports/Public-Policy-Reports/Parity-at-Risk/ParityatRisk.pdf  

Conference Proceedings

The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide guidance on citing conference proceedings. Therefore, this citation models that of an edited collection, which is similar in format.

Lastname, F. M., & Lastname, F. M. (Eds.). (Year). Title of Proceedings . Publisher. URL (if applicable)

Huang, S., Pierce, R., & Stamey, J. (Eds.). (2006). Proceedings of the 24 th annual ACM international conference on the design of communication . ACM Digital Library. https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1166324&picked=prox

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Cite a Thesis

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Don't let plagiarism errors spoil your paper

Consider your source's credibility. ask these questions:, contributor/author.

  • Has the author written several articles on the topic, and do they have the credentials to be an expert in their field?
  • Can you contact them? Do they have social media profiles?
  • Have other credible individuals referenced this source or author?
  • Book: What have reviews said about it?
  • What do you know about the publisher/sponsor? Are they well-respected?
  • Do they take responsibility for the content? Are they selective about what they publish?
  • Take a look at their other content. Do these other articles generally appear credible?
  • Does the author or the organization have a bias? Does bias make sense in relation to your argument?
  • Is the purpose of the content to inform, entertain, or to spread an agenda? Is there commercial intent?
  • Are there ads?
  • When was the source published or updated? Is there a date shown?
  • Does the publication date make sense in relation to the information presented to your argument?
  • Does the source even have a date?
  • Was it reproduced? If so, from where?
  • If it was reproduced, was it done so with permission? Copyright/disclaimer included?
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Generate citations in APA format quickly and automatically, with MyBib!

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🤔 What is an APA Citation Generator?

An APA citation generator is a software tool that will automatically format academic citations in the American Psychological Association (APA) style.

It will usually request vital details about a source -- like the authors, title, and publish date -- and will output these details with the correct punctuation and layout required by the official APA style guide.

Formatted citations created by a generator can be copied into the bibliography of an academic paper as a way to give credit to the sources referenced in the main body of the paper.

👩‍🎓 Who uses an APA Citation Generator?

College-level and post-graduate students are most likely to use an APA citation generator, because APA style is the most favored style at these learning levels. Before college, in middle and high school, MLA style is more likely to be used. In other parts of the world styles such as Harvard (UK and Australia) and DIN 1505 (Europe) are used more often.

🙌 Why should I use a Citation Generator?

Like almost every other citation style, APA style can be cryptic and hard to understand when formatting citations. Citations can take an unreasonable amount of time to format manually, and it is easy to accidentally include errors. By using a citation generator to do this work you will:

  • Save a considerable amount of time
  • Ensure that your citations are consistent and formatted correctly
  • Be rewarded with a higher grade

In academia, bibliographies are graded on their accuracy against the official APA rulebook, so it is important for students to ensure their citations are formatted correctly. Special attention should also be given to ensure the entire document (including main body) is structured according to the APA guidelines. Our complete APA format guide has everything you need know to make sure you get it right (including examples and diagrams).

⚙️ How do I use MyBib's APA Citation Generator?

Our APA generator was built with a focus on simplicity and speed. To generate a formatted reference list or bibliography just follow these steps:

  • Start by searching for the source you want to cite in the search box at the top of the page.
  • MyBib will automatically locate all the required information. If any is missing you can add it yourself.
  • Your citation will be generated correctly with the information provided and added to your bibliography.
  • Repeat for each citation, then download the formatted list and append it to the end of your paper.

MyBib supports the following for APA style:

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IMAGES

  1. Theses

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  2. APA Citations for a Thesis or Dissertation

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  3. How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

    apa referencing for a thesis

  4. APA Citations for a Thesis or Dissertation

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  5. Theses and dissertations

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  6. APA Format Examples, Tips, and Guidelines

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  1. Zotero A to Z in Bengali বাংলা

  2. APA Referencing Guide for Thesis and Assignments

  3. LESSON 78

  4. APA Style Document Updated in Microsoft word 2016

  5. LESSON 79

  6. HOW TO CITE AND REFERENCE IN YOUR PROJECT AND SEMINAR 1 (TIPS ON CITATION AND BIBLIOGRAPHY)

COMMENTS

  1. Published Dissertation or Thesis References

    Published Dissertation or Thesis References This page contains reference examples for published dissertations or theses.

  2. How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

    In this citation guide, you will learn how to reference and cite an undergraduate thesis, master's thesis, or doctoral dissertation. This guide will also review the differences between a thesis or dissertation that is published and one that has remained unpublished. The guidelines below come from the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020a ...

  3. How to Cite a Dissertation in APA Style

    The format for citing someone else's dissertation or thesis in APA Style depends on whether the thesis is available from a database, published somewhere else (e.g. on a university archive or personal website), or unpublished (only available in print form directly from the author or university).

  4. Thesis/Dissertation

    Provide guidance on APA format style based on the 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual.

  5. Library Guides: APA 7th referencing style: Thesis

    APA 7th referencing style This is a guide to using the APA7 referencing style from the American Psychological Association. It is based on the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

  6. APA Formatting and Style Guide (7th Edition)

    Basic guidelines for formatting the reference list at the end of a standard APA research paper. Author/Authors. Rules for handling works by a single author or multiple authors that apply to all APA-style references in your reference list, regardless of the type of work (book, article, electronic resource, etc.)

  7. Unpublished Dissertation or Thesis References

    This page contains a reference example for an unpublished dissertation or thesis. If you find the dissertation or thesis in a database or in a repository or archive, follow the published dissertation or thesis format.

  8. APA Citations for a Thesis or Dissertation

    Determine how to cite a thesis in APA. Citing theses and dissertations in your research paper and in your reference list correctly is important.

  9. APA Citation Style, 7th Edition: Dissertations & Thesis

    Dissertations and theses are formatted the same way in APA 7th edition. Theses are generally the culminating work for a master's or undergraduate degree and dissertations are often original research completed by doctoral students. Here are examples of a dissertation & a thesis, and how they would be formatted:

  10. APA (7th ed.) referencing guide (Online): Thesis / Dissertation

    Thesis / Dissertation - APA (7th ed.) referencing guide (Online) - LibGuides at Swansea University. Below you will find guidance and examples of how to set out a reference for a Thesis or Dissertation in the body of your work and in the reference list at the end.

  11. Theses and dissertations

    Learn how to cite theses and dissertations in APA 7th style with examples and tips from Library Guides at AUT.

  12. How to cite a master's thesis in APA

    Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a master's thesis in APA style 7th edition:

  13. Theses

    The basics of a reference list entry for a thesis or dissertation: Author. The surname is followed by first initials. Year (in round brackets). Title (in italics ). Level of Thesis or Dissertation [in square brackets]. The first line of each citation is left adjusted. Every subsequent line is indented 5-7 spaces.

  14. APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.)

    Learn how to set up APA format for your paper. From the title page and headings to references and citations.

  15. APA 7th Edition Citation Examples

    APA calls for the citation to include a unique identifying number for the dissertation, labeling it "Publication No." That number can be found in Dissertations and Theses database, listed in the item record as "Dissertation/thesis number."

  16. References

    References provide the information necessary for readers to identify and retrieve each work cited in the text. Consistency in reference formatting allows readers to focus on the content of your reference list, discerning both the types of works you consulted and the important reference elements with ease.

  17. Subject guides: APA 7th: Theses and dissertations

    Unpublished thesis For further guidance, see the APA Style website- Published Dissertation or Thesis, Unpublished Dissertation or Theses. Did you find this page helpful?

  18. How to Cite a Thesis in APA: A Comprehensive Guide to Proper Citations

    Citing a thesis in APA format is a critical skill for students and researchers alike. This blog post will guide you through the essentials of APA citation for theses, ensuring your academic work adheres to widely accepted standards.

  19. Dissertation/Thesis

    Automatically generate bibliographies, references and title pages in APA, MLA and Chicago styles.

  20. Cite a Thesis / Dissertation

    Thesis / Dissertation Cite a thesis or dissertation (unpublished, published online, or accessed through a database). Use other forms to cite books , journal articles , reports , and conference proceedings . Source type Required Thesis Title Required Contributors Recommended Add person Add organization Type of text Recommended Year of submission ...

  21. Reference List: Other Print Sources

    Reference List: Other Print Sources Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here.

  22. Free Citing a Thesis in APA

    Creating accurate citations in APA has never been easier! Automatically cite a thesis in APA by using Citation Machine's free citation generator.

  23. Free APA Citation Generator [Updated for 2024]

    Generate APA style citations quickly and accurately with our FREE APA citation generator. Enter a website URL, book ISBN, or search with keywords, and we do the rest! Updated with APA 7th Edition!

  24. Full article: A literature review on construction project success

    This review identified the most important stakeholders' responsive success criteria and methods used to evaluate project success in the construction industry. Gudienė et al. (Citation 2013) and Kissi et al. (Citation 2019) emphasize the need for clearer evaluation criteria and effective project monitoring for successful construction projects ...