Writing a thesis is tough. Current or recent graduate students understand the time and effort required to successfully complete their research program. Indeed, graduate training involves extensive amounts of research that often reflects years of failures and successes. This research often leads to some type of novel insight, which is organized into either a thesis paper or dissertation.
When writing a dissertation or a thesis, there is much to consider. Both require extensive amounts of work and reflect the years of research conducted by the student. Some universities require that students publish this final research in peer-reviewed journals prior to being considered eligible to graduate. Meanwhile, others do not require the thesis to be officially published. Ultimately, regardless of the graduation requirements, certain career tracks for PhDs or Master’s students require publication in peer-reviewed journals.
The type of graduate writing that is required by a student’s university depends upon where the graduate student has studied. In Europe, a doctoral thesis reflects original research, whereas, in the USA, a thesis is often a shorter document associated with a Master’s degree.
Whatever the title, extensive research projects are organized into a final document. Some of these written documents can be formatted into a book. Before publishing, a graduate student should consider several factors prior to publishing. Namely, the student should ask, is my research
- Rigorous: Is it methodical, scholarly work?
- Significant: Why does it matter to your potential audience?
- Original: Is it novel and unique?
- Marketable: Are there potential customers?
When to Publish?
In the past, universities have published theses graduation research summaries in only a hard copy format, such as a bound book. Now, some theses or dissertations are available online, often with a Creative Commons license. This can be a problem due to the requirement by journals that manuscripts contain only unpublished and original data. However, generally, a thesis or dissertation consisting of original, previously unpublished research that has been made available by your home institution does not prevent you from publishing. Rather, journals will consider these theses and dissertations that were published by universities as, understandably, still sufficiently novel data. Furthermore, peer review is an integral component of publication. To pass the muster of peer review, it is important to consider the feedback of dissertation or thesis committee. The critiques of your committee will often mirror the potential concerns of your peer reviewers.
Tips and Common Concerns
When going to publish your dissertation, there are generally some common errors made by graduate students.
First, it is generally a good practice to reference or acknowledge the thesis. Since the dissertation may be available publicly, it is important to be transparent about the source of the data. Similarly, always inform journals that some research contained within a thesis or dissertation was published either in a print-only version or in an online repository.
You can publish your thesis as a monograph or a series of articles. It can depend on the type of thesis.
- Traditional thesis: It is usually in the form of chapters and is an original work written by an individual student.
- Thesis by publication: It consists of papers that have already been published in a journal.
According to COPE guidelines, when thesis contains original unpublished work, it should not be considered as prior publication. Therefore, it is acceptable to be published as a manuscript or a monograph in a journal, even if it is available freely in university repositories and Creative Common license may or may not apply. However, if the thesis is of the second type, then the papers will be considered as prior publication and are not acceptable as original works for publication. As a research lab hosts student’s work, it is important to first review the policies of your host university. Similarly, since fields transform rapidly, don’t wait too long before publishing. If you do, you run the risk of your literature review or methodology becoming outdated.
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