Publishing During Doctoral Candidature - From Novice to Expert - Writing as Professional Development

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Publishing During Doctoral Candidature
From Novice to Expert
Writing as Professional Development

The single, best predictor of who will go on to become a published scholar is publication while still in graduate school (Robinson & Dracup, 2008). As Lovitts (2005) explains,

In many ways, graduate school is an apprenticeship and socialization experience. Students need to be socialized to doing active research as much as they need to learn objective skills. In order to integrate skills learned in different classes and to grow psychologically, students should have experiences that promote a shift from an adviser’s direction to collaboration, from dependence to independence. (p. 18)

A doctoral program in general and a dissertation in particular is designed to prepare students to conduct original research, inaugurate lifelong intellectual inquiry, and set in motion an upward trajectory of scholarly productivity. However, very few dissertations are transformed into published manuscripts because the authors give up after initial rejection (Heyman & Cronin, 2005). To illustrate, in a study of 593 social work dissertations from 1998 to 2008, only about 29 % of the doctoral program graduates’ work could be located in peer-reviewed articles or books (Maynard, Vaughn, Sarteschi, & Berglund, 2014). Publication in the medical field can be particularly problematic because the writing demanded of health care professionals prior to entering university life often is limited to brief notes (Murray, 2013).

Many students are shocked to discover that only a small fraction of the dissertations written lead to the publication of journal articles or books (Foster, 2009; Hepner & Hepner, 2003; Luey, 2007). There are many reasons why the traditional thesis or dissertation may not be a source of publishable material, including:

· A thesis or dissertation is your first attempt at research and, while it was of sufficiently high quality to earn the degree, it may not compare well with the manuscripts produced by more experienced scholars.

· Graduate students frequently do not have the resources necessary to support a more comprehensive study. Higher education faculty may have graduate assistants, a grant, and collaborative arrangements with other institutions to support research.

· In the interest of earning their degree and graduating, students may not develop their work sufficiently. Published research often consists of multiple studies rather than a single study; for example, a pilot, a study, and then a follow up.

· At times, a thesis or dissertation—while useful as an exercise in planning and conducting research — is too local/parochial to be of interest to a wider audience.

· Graduate students are often “too close” to their thesis or dissertation to conceptualize it as concise journal article and condense it to its very essence in the format and style required by the publisher.

· Even with encouragement and offers of guidance from faculty advisors, graduate students may procrastinate in writing an article, the data become too dated, and the work is no longer publishable.

· Misguided graduate students may think that a cut and paste is all that is required to produce an article or book when substantial rewriting actually is required.

· Writers of dissertations may lose their enthusiasm for pursuing a line of research beyond the dissertation and move on to a different topic.

Online Tool

Review Pollard’s (2005) recommendations in “From dissertation to journal article: A useful method for planning and writing any manuscript” published in the Internet Journal of Mental Health, 2(2) at