Turning your thesis into publication marks the beginning of your publishing career. Publishing an article post-Ph.D. is essential as this makes your research more accessible to others.
One of the most important points to note is that writing an article from a thesis is not only a task of cutting and pasting. The aim and format of a thesis are very different from that of a journal article or book chapter. The primary audience for the thesis is the examiner, and the student needs to convince the examiner that they have mastered research techniques and understand the opinions they are making. This can make the thesis repetitive and full of detail. The broader audience for the article or book chapter will want to know about the arguments or findings and, at the same time, be convinced that the results are authentic and honorable.
Selecting articles from a thesis or dissertation depends greatly on the work itself. There may be new theories, methods, or results that are worth sharing, and the supervisor’s role is to assist the student in formulating purposes for the paper. There are several steps involved:
- Deciding on authorship
- Planning the article
- Choosing a journal
- Writing the article
- Reviewing the article before submission
Deciding on authorship
Anyone included as an author of a journal article must have contributed considerably to it. You may need to decide whether this includes your supervisor and agree on the order of the authors’ names. Various disciplines have different authorship rules, but the main author is mentioned first in medical science.
Planning the article
A single paper in a journal should include the main message that you want to get across. This could be a novel aspect of methodology that you have used in your Ph.D. study, a new thesis, or an interesting modification you have made to theory or a novel set of findings. Decide what this central emphasis is.
Then create a paper outline bearing in mind the need to:
- Create a coherent story/statement
- Make the statement self-standing
- Target the journal audience
- Change the writing conventions from that used in your thesis
Selecting a journal
Choosing a journal is a very important step in planning the article. The journal you choose should target a suitable readership, be accredited, and be available to your peers. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Look at your own reference list. Which journals have you used?
- Study the editorial policies of the relevant journals: some are more restrictive than others (e.g. content, research paradigm, article length)
- Scan past editions. Are there any similar articles?
- Is it a trusted journal? There are several marks of quality and reliability to look out for in a journal, and people may judge your ability to choose suitable journals to submit to. The Think. Check. Submit. initiative provides tools to help you evaluate whether the journal you’re planning to send your work to is trustworthy.
When choosing your journal think about the audience, purposes, what to write about and why. Decide the kind of article to write. Is it a report, position paper, critique, or review? What makes your argument or research interesting? How might the paper add value to the field?
Writing the article
When writing the article consider your choice of ‘theoretical framework’ and ‘voice’. Be clear about what your article is about, and what it is trying to do. Finally, request your supervisor /co-author to go through the article with the following in mind.
- Use the standards the reviewers will use.
- Read and edit as a sympathetic friend and mentor.
- Ask another colleague or friend who thinks differently to read it.
- Get someone to edit it for language and spelling. Many authors use professional proofreaders. This is not a sign of weakness as the editor has some distance from the article. This is particularly essential if you come from a country where a different language to that of the journal is used.