Doctoral dissertations are a very important source of cutting-edge, primary research material in all disciplines. At Piedmont University, they are especially significant to researchers in the Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) program and to anyone pursuing research at a high level.
While dissertations are themselves not peer-reviewed literature, their bibliographies, literature review chapters, and methodological chapters will contain references to significant research literature that may be both foundational or specific for the topic you're exploring.
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT) is the standard online service to locate dissertations written at universities in the United States and worldwide. It contains citations and abstracts for over 2 million works from the 19th century to the present.
In the past, ProQuest was the only source to purchase copies of dissertations, which were otherwise only available as physical copies at their home institutions, and that remains the case. However, in recent years, more and more dissertations have been made available freely and can be read in their entirely online. You can easily set the "Full text" limiter to find complete dissertations free of charge.
Citations for dissertations are included in a number of online citation/abstract services, such as ERIC; and citations for dissertations are included in bibliographies of journal articles, books, and ebooks.
When you encounter a dissertation citation, you can copy its title and search in PQDT to see whether you have access to the full-text. If you don't, you can ask that the library purchase a PDF copy for you, using the Book Request Form that's part of the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) pages.
Choose carefully when you ask the Library to purchase a dissertation because the Library funds the purchase of only two (2) dissertations for each doctoral student during their time in the doctoral program.