Monday, June 3, 2013

Telecom Surveillance / Dissertation Resource

Chris Soghoian, Chief Technologist and a Senior Policy Analyst with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, was interviewed by on KUOW this afternoon. It was a very interesting discussion of what the government can find out from our cell phones, email, and so on. You'll be able to hear the interview later, when it's posted here.

Soghoian mentioned that he recently got a Ph.D., writing his dissertation on issues of telecommunication surveillance. So when I got to a computer, I visited the University Libraries website, selected Articles & Research Databases, typed in "dissertations," chose Dissertations & Theses Full Text (from ProQuest), and searched.

In less time than it took to type that last paragraph, I saw the abstract: The spies we trust: Third party service providers and law enforcement surveillance. With another click, I could choose a PDF preview (the first 24 pages) or the whole thing (123 pages).
Title page, The Spies We Trust, dissertation
by Christopher Soghoian

Dissertations & Theses Full Text is a terrific resource for scholars. Consider that the authors of dissertations work on them for many years, under the supervision of senior scholars in their fields. The work is supposed to be novel, adding something to the literature. And everything is supposed to be scrupulously backed up, showing familiarity with what has already been published in the area. So when you find a dissertation on a topic you're working on, you get thoughtful, tested analysis and a bibliography that will lead you to other works.

You can search the database by author's name, subject, or keywords. You can also search by institution, advisor or committee member, as well as some other variables.

The database includes many dissertations from law schools. It also includes dissertations in non-law fields that could interest legal scholars. For instance, I came across
The Culture War Over Marriage Equality in Seattle, Washington (2010), by Jessica Johnson, who earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Anthropology. Maybe that wouldn't help you figure out a community property issue for a same-sex couple under Washington's marriage law, but a scholar of LGBT legal issues might like to read what a cultural anthropologist has to say.

One of the advantages of studying at UW Law is that you have access to the resources of a world-class library system, serving many different schools and departments. Dissertations & Theses Full Text is just one of the databases available.

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