Increasing Opportunities to Publish from the Dissertation - 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

Increasing Opportunities to Publish from the Dissertation
From Novice to Expert
Writing as Professional Development

In some countries and universities, doctoral candidates are required to write a monograph—a single, long paper — of publishable quality rather than the traditional, five chapter dissertation. In some doctoral programs students are required students to publish three manuscripts in peer reviewed outlets as a condition for graduation. A more common approach is the three paper option in which students choose between writing a traditional dissertation or publishing three articles. Usually, the student needs to write an introduction that demonstrates how the work is part of his or her research agenda. The risk, of course, is that one or more of the papers will be rejected so it sometimes requires students to work on both types of dissertations simultaneously, just in case the publication option does not work out. The best advice is for doctoral students and advisors is to determine the available options early on and plan accordingly.

Online Tool

View Indiana University’s School of Public Health criteria for a three paper dissertation at ers.pdf

Table 13.2 suggests ways to make writing for publication part of the doctoral study.

Table 13.2

Strategies for publishing during doctoral study

Choose a chairperson with a track record of successfully guiding graduate students in publishing their work rather than someone who casually suggests that degree candidates follow through with publication

Begin discussing publication possibilities as the thesis or dissertation is being developed. Even if there is no “three paper” option, some committees are receptive to writing the document in a more publishable way. For example, if the review of the literature chapter is well synthesized into themes, written as a best evidence review, or approached as a meta-analysis, it will have greater publication potential later on

Contact alumni who were successful in getting publications from a thesis or dissertation. Ask them about what they published (e.g., a review of the literature article, a research article, a book) and how they accomplished it. Take their advice to heart

Expect that the work will need to be rewritten for a particular outlet and audience. Some resources to guide graduate students through this process are (Harman, Montagnes, McMenemy & Bucci, 2003; Luey, 2007)

After the thesis or dissertation has been completed, follow up with committee members about the publication potential for the work. What is their advice? Which parts do they consider to be particularly strong? What outlets might be appropriate?

Arrive at a writing arrangement/agreement before you begin to work with a co-author. Do not wait until the manuscript is ready to submit to initiate a discussion about credit for authorship. If roles change in unanticipated ways, renegotiate the agreement. The American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct ( explicitly states, “Except under exceptional circumstances, a student is listed as principal author on any multiple-authored article that is substantially based on the student’s doctoral dissertation” (Sect. 8.12)

After identifying a possible outlet, check the author guidelines. Often, a document of over 200 pages now will need to be distilled into about 20, double-spaced, 12-point print pages. Search for exemplary studies that are similar in method, rather than content, so that you can use them as a model for your manuscript

Doctoral alumni can be surprisingly naïve about the process of publishing their work. To illustrate, a thick envelope was delivered to the editor of a journal via international express. Inside was a copy of an entire dissertation that was approximately 300 pages in length. A handwritten note on the front read: “Dear editor, Could you please read my dissertation and tell me how to publish an article from it? Thank you very much for your time.” It definitely is not part of a journal editor’s job description to read student dissertations and teach them how to write an article. This situation exemplifies the most common errors committed by graduate students seeking to publish from a thesis or dissertation, namely:

· Submitting a lengthy document

· Including too many tables, figures, charts, and graphs

· Neglecting to rewrite for a diverse audience of researchers

· Expecting editors and reviewers to function like advisors rather than evaluators

If you have some doubts about the suitability of the manuscript for a particular outlet, check to see if the editor will accept letters of inquiry or query letters. If so, send a business-like, concise e-mail that provides a title for the proposed article and abstract to the editor. Verify that the work has not been previously published and confirm that, while you understand it would have to be peer reviewed, you are seeking the editor’s opinion about the publication potential for the piece.