Hidden Research: Dissertations

  • Eve Proper
  • Timothy C. Caboni
Part of the Philanthropy and Education book series (PHILAED)


One of the primary sources of research articles focused on fundraising are doctoral theses that authors subsequently submit for peer review and publication, yet many more dissertations are never published in a form beyond the thesis. From 1991 to 2013, an average of 20 dissertations a year on some aspect of advancement was published. The production of research by doctoral students is problematic for the profession for several reasons. First, most doctoral dissertations that take fundraising as their focus are written by practitioners pursuing a terminal degree primarily as a credential to advance their administrative careers (Kelly 1998). Second, the faculty guiding those dissertations have limited experience with fundraising or related research. As a result, much of the work is repetitive and focused on single institutions and donor characteristics (Kelly 1998). Finally, Kelly (1998) suggests that much of what is written in theses dissertations never makes it to journal publication because of the limited professional utility for the authors of having a published manuscript. These problems are not limited to fundraising, however. Public administration, a profession in a similar position to fundraising, trains both practitioners and researchers in doctoral programs, and doctoral research in public administration has repeatedly found to be weak (McCurdy and Cleary 1984).


Faculty Member Community College Grand Unify Theory Voluntary Sector Institutional Type 
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Copyright information

© Eve Proper and Timothy C. Caboni 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eve Proper
  • Timothy C. Caboni

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