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. In this article, we shall discuss how to turn your thesis to journal article.

Characteristics of a Thesis and a Journal Article


Journal Article

Reviewed by dissertation or thesis committee members Reviewed by a panel of peer reviewers
Chapter-wise sequencing of research data Section-wise sequencing of research data
No specific word limit Specific word limit as per journal guidelines
Includes table of contents Follows structured manuscript format
All findings are presented Only selected findings are presented
Includes description and copies of tools used Includes essential and succinct tool information

Differences Between a Thesis and a Journal Article

While both contain similar sections, you cannot simply publish your thesis research as a journal 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!

The many differences between a thesis research and a journal article are as follows:

  1. A thesis meets academic requirements while a journal article meets journalistic standards.
  2. The abstract of an article is usually shorter than that of a thesis.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 Research to Journal Article

As a researcher, you need to publish your work to advance your career and make contributions to the research field. Now that the differences have been outlined, how do you actually write one?

1. Identify a Suitable Journal

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. Ensure that your research article coincides with the aim and scope of the journal. Understand the journal’s guidelines, recommended manuscript structure, and reference style

2. Reduce Redundant Length of Your Thesis

An important aspect of turning your thesis research to journal article is focusing on the word count without deleting crucial information. In order reduce word count, extract the data that answers just one research question. This should result in a more focused information than your thesis research 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. Paraphrase the content without changing the meaning.

3. Modify Introduction as Abstract

Repurpose the introduction as an abstract by shortening your thesis introduction to 100-150 words. Remember to maintain key points of the introduction to hold the reader’s attention. Formulate the introduction and discussion of thesis as basis for the journal article’s abstract. Furthermore, consider combining multiple research questions or focus on just one for the journal article.

4. Focus on Relevant and Selective Information

Since the discussion, methods and methodology, and results section of your thesis is an in-detail explanation of your research, these sections must be kept short while writing in a journal article.  Familiarize yourself with the target journal’s standards by referring previously published papers and understanding their format. Most importantly, provide interpretation of main findings in the results section in concise statements or tabular formats. Avoid repeating your results in the discussion section. However, discuss how your findings expand and support previous perspectives of the research. Finally, mention how future studies can build upon your work and address limitations in your study.

5. Limit the Number of References

As your thesis is a work of several years put together, it involves numerous literature reviewing. However, while turning your thesis to journal article, you must include only limited references that are relevant to the research question addressed in the journal article. Focus on using most recent references. Consider using reference management tools such as Zotero, Mendeley, Quiqqa, etc. to make the referencing process easier and efficient.

It is an academic requirement that you publish your data for the benefit of the scientific community. Considering that the structure of journal article is different from the structure of a thesis, turning a thesis to journal article must be done following logical steps as mentioned above.

Did you ever have to convert your thesis to journal article? How did you plan it? What strategies did you use while reducing the word count of your thesis? Let us know in the comments section below! You can also visit our Q&A forum for frequently asked questions related to different aspects of research writing and publishing answered by our team that comprises subject-matter experts, eminent researchers, and publication experts.

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