Beyond Patents: Find Prior Art at OpenThesis

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Here at Intellogist® we talk a lot about patent searching and patent search engines. As many of you know, however, that’s not all there is to Intellogist–we cover all aspects of prior art searching. Our Resource Finder can help you find “non-patent” resources (sorted by subject matter, search systems, databases, publications and websites) that could provide a key piece of prior art in your search. We’ve made a myriad of non-patent posts in the past including news bits about literature sources, a profile of new features on Google Scholar, and a post about the World Traditional Natural Medicine Patent Database. As we’ve touched on many times before on the Intellogist Blog, expertise in searching must be learned through teaching and experience, but a set of good tools in the toolbox is also must for any expert searcher. Not every tool needs to be used on every job, but sometimes a non-traditional source will come through in a pinch when nothing else is working for you.

Today we’ll take a look at a search system that provides a window into the educational and technical world of theses and dissertations: OpenThesis. Read on to find out how this system works and see if it’s right for your prior art search.


OpenThesis.org seeks to provide a central database and search system for college and university thesis and dissertation documents–a once disparate and labor intensive source of prior art. No searcher wants to have to slog through dozens of individual college and university websites which may or may not have proprietary Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) systems. It’s tedious to remember how each system works, plus it’s difficult to re-enter search queries from system to system.

In the words of the OpenThesis About section:

OpenThesis addresses that issue, and by creating a centralized search, encourages the reading and use of these important documents. The benefits to the schools and authors are numerous, including greater recognition in the research community, collaboration and employment opportunities, and intellectual property licensing opportunities.

This search system was developed by the minds behind FreePatentsOnline and SumoBrain, and anyone familiar with the design sensibilities behind those systems will recognize the layout of the Advanced Search page.

Users can search in the following fields:

  • Abstract
  • Advisor
  • Author Last or First Name
  • Document Language
  • Document Title
  • Document Type
  • Full Text
  • Keywords
  • Publication Date
  • School

Interested in theses from the University of Toledo? How about a Master’s Thesis about the “Effects of Different Batter Formulations on Quality of Deep-Fat Fried Chicken Nuggets?” OpenThesis has a surprising amount of information with one caveat:

OpenThesis contains the bibliographical information, normally including author, school, title, abstract, date of publication, and more. Full text is generally not included unless OpenThesis has received permission from the school or author.

Most of the data included is bibliographic and abstract based, but OpenThesis is still a great resource for searching a centralized database of thesis and dissertation data. If the abstract and bibliographic information is not enough for your prior art search, it’s at least easier to search through OpenThesis and then contact the author or university than it would be to try and find all of the information via individual sites.

Have you used OpenThesis? Do you have other sources of thesis and dissertation data? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.

3 Responses

  1. At first I thought it was going to be a US centric collection but it appears to be global, which makes it more valuable as a resource. I don’t think the global aspect has been mentioned anywhere in this post nor the community report.

  2. Thanks for bringing this up insomniac. You’re right that this should have been mentioned as a benefit of the system–especially considering how global our audience is!

  3. OpenThesis search field now available on IPN Patent & Prior Art search toolbar http://ning.it/a8xfVK

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