How to Turn Your Thesis into a Journal Article

In many cases, publishing thesis is often one of the requirements for graduate students to finish their academic program. Publishing research findings is one of the more important ways to share research data with the scientific community. However, the structure of it is different from that of a research article.

A good thesis requires a lot of meticulous work. Often, the requirements for writing your dissertation/thesis will be dictated by your university. Regardless, every thesis should detail a methodical approach to answering a research question. When publishing articles based on your thesis, citing the dissertation is a good practice. The definition of “thesis” and “dissertation” depends on where you are. In Europe, a thesis is typically associated with a PhD and describes original research. Whereas, a dissertation is part of a postgraduate research project usually for a Master’s degree. In the USA, a thesis is associated with a Master’s degree while a dissertation is written as part of obtaining a PhD. In either case, both documents require a focused approach to demonstrate an understanding of your chosen research area.

Dissertation writing will generally require the author to include an abstract, methods, and results sections. An abstract is a concise summary of your research problem, methods, and key findings and is usually under 300 words. The methods section should give enough detail that another researcher in your field would be able to reproduce your findings. The methods section should describe the study design, sample size, materials or instruments, techniques for data collection & analysis, and more. The results and discussion section should describe the key findings and their significance. You should also discuss the novelty of your findings.

Differences Between a Thesis and a Journal Article

While both contain similar sections, you cannot simply publish your thesis as a research article. Converting it into a journal article has many steps. It is important to recognize that an article is much shorter than the thesis. However, turning your thesis into a journal article will not be a simple matter of copy and paste. You will need to use the data in your thesis as the starting point for writing your article.

Related: Planning to publish your Ph.D. research in a good journal? Check these journal selection guidelines now!

There are many differences between a thesis and a research article.

  1. The abstract of an article is usually shorter than that of a thesis.
  2. The introduction in a thesis is used to show that you are familiar with the literature in your chosen field. In a research paper, the introduction is much shorter as it is assumed that your target audience is familiar with the necessary background to understand your work. The introduction to your paper will, therefore, focus more on setting the stage for the data/research output that you are about to present.
  3. The results section in a thesis will include all your findings. In a paper, this would be too much detail. The data in this section should be only what you need to support your research problem or hypothesis. Often, the results in former may represent two to three different papers.
  4. The discussion in your paper will be much more focused than in your thesis. It will be guided by the results presented in the paper. Finally, only citations of articles actually mentioned in your paper will be listed in the references section.

Turning Thesis to a Journal Article

As a researcher, you need to publish your work to advance your career and make contributions to the research. Now that the differences have been outlined, how do you actually write one? You could start by journal selection. Look at your reference list. Chances are at least some of the papers you read were published in journals whose scope would match your work. Selecting a journal also allows you to tailor the paper to the specific requirements of that journal.

In order to shorten your text, extract the data that answers just one research question. This should result in a more focused information than your thesis presented. Discuss results in context with your problem statement-that is the focus of your paper. Good language and structure are crucial – your paper may get rejected even though it contains valuable data if it is difficult to understand. Use your data to tell a coherent story and avoid sweeping conclusions your data cannot support. Ensure that your title matches the contents of your paper.

It is an academic requirement that you publish your data for the benefit of the scientific community. The structure of article for a publication is different from the structure of a thesis. Publishing your dissertation in a journal is, therefore, going to require more work but it can also make you a published author!


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