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UAlbany Researcher Publishes a Top 10 Best Seller
Not a Novel, But a Doctoral Dissertation

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 20, 2003) -- A doctoral dissertation may never crack the New York Times’ famous best sellers list, but researchers find the information invaluable if the topic suits their search. In the ProQuest Information and Learning list of the Top 10 best-selling dissertations of 2002, second place went to Elba Alicia Herrero for a dissertation written at UAlbany, “Using culturally relevant literature and discourse to support literacy learning among ‘at-risk’ English-language learners."

Herrero, currently an assistant professor of Multicultural Education at New Jersey City University, wrote the dissertation for her 1999 doctoral degree. In it, she outlines ways of organizing literacy instruction to raise the skill levels of low-achieving, language-minority students. Students in Herrero's groups, primarily Dominican students from the Bronx, N.Y., addressed a variety of concerns with content, form and language in relation to personal and cultural ways of conceiving literature. The study extends theories pertaining to the role that prior student knowledge plays in literacy instruction and helps teachers to better understand how students’ cultural literature, patterns of discourse, and ways of understanding influence their participation, performance and learning.

Publishing a dissertation, also known as a thesis, is a requirement for earning a doctorate degree from many universities. Dissertations summarize the original independent research of scholars pursuing an advanced academic degree, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

The best-selling dissertation of 2002 was Robert Russell Mackey's “The Uncivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861---1865 (Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia),” written in 2000 at Texas A&M University. Mackey is a major in the U.S. Army, as well as a Civil War historian. His thesis examines whether Confederate guerrilla tactics could have won the day for the South. Flying in the face of other Civil War research, Mackey says no.

This rest of the year's Top 10 list topics reflect its headlines: healthcare, online banking, executive leadership, and e-business, among others. Unlike the New York Times list, total sales of copies, not in the thousands but in the dozens, were enough to crack the top 10. In all, 776 copies of Top 10 list titles were sold. Thirteen titles make up the so-called Top 10 list due to ties

In dissertation sales, size doesn’t matter. Herrero's entry, at 162 pages, falls between best sellers such as the 111-page “Management Control and the Balanced Scorecard: An empirical test of causal relations” by Mary Ann Malina to the 537-page “The Coos and Coquille: A Northwest Coast historical anthropology” by Mark Axel Tveskov.

ProQuest Information and Learning, a unit of ProQuest Company, creates and distributes databases for libraries and educational institutions worldwide. Its dissertation database includes bibliographic citations for materials ranging from the first U.S. dissertation, accepted in 1861, to those accepted as recently as last semester. The full text of more than one million of these titles is available in paper and microform formats. For more information about ProQuest Information and Learning, and for the complete Top 10 List, visit


Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. The University is engaged in a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit

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