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Writing journal articles from a doctoral dissertation

As I often do, I blog about stuff that people ask me on Twitter. This is one of the most common questions I get: how do I write journal articles out of my doctoral dissertation?

My dissertation was a book-length manuscript, but my PhD adviser used the same thinking as many other researchers who supervise doctoral students: find three major contributions that your doctoral dissertation make, and then chunk your thesis into these as journal articles.

I work with my doctoral students from the assumption that there are at least 3 publishable articles that can be distilled from their dissertation. My current students are doing papers-based theses, but I also have mentored those who write entire books. The most important thing to keep in mind is what Dr. Pat Thomson indicates here: there are many, many ways in which you can slice your doctoral dissertation.

Here are a few resources I found on how to get articles out of the dissertation. But by and large, Pat’s blog post is the best and most thorough.

  • Pat Thomson on getting articles out of your PhD thesis. Pat offers very detailed suggestions on ways in which you can identify contributions to then turn into articles.
  • Laura Mesquita with 8 tips to get articles out of your dissertation. I really liked this strategy, though I would combine it with other resources listed below.
  • Thomas and Skinner on a systematic approach to turning your dissertation into articles. This piece includes equations and calculations on how many articles you can get out of your thesis, and all.
  • Eva Lantsoght on how to turn your dissertation into articles. Dr. Lantsoght comes from the engineering and natural sciences field so she offers excellent advice that can help those in the same disciplines.
  • I think the key question is – what are the three most important contributions that I can distil as DISTINCT units and that could be published independently without being in sequence or appear at the same time? Once you answer that question, you can start writing the journal article (with advice from Wendy Belcher or Barbara Kamler/Pat Thomson, of course).

Posted in academia, research, writing.


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