Publishing the Dissertation: Journal Article or Book? -->

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Publishing the Dissertation: Journal Article or Book?

After countless hours toiling over your dissertation, you’ve finally reached the finish line. Upon approval by your committee, your dissertation is officially ready for the next step. But what is that next step? Is it possible to expand your readership beyond those helpful committee members, to share your ideas with other scholars, to join in the academic conversation regarding your topic, and possibly even advance your career? The short answer: Yes. The somewhat less exciting and slightly longer answer: Still yes, though publishing your dissertation is competitive and difficult (but not impossible!). Let’s walk through some questions to consider as you begin seeking publication.

"Alternatives" (c) Daniel Oines (CC BY 2.0
Step 1 is to determine whether you want to split your dissertation into separate articles or attempt to publish the entire work as a book. Keep in mind that these are not mutually exclusive; a common trajectory is for a student to try and publish articles in journals in order to gain credibility when submitting a book proposal to publishers. That said, just like the complex ideas in your dissertation, the “submit articles first” theory of publication does have its detractors. Another school of thought (let’s call this the “don’t give away the farm” theory) recommends submitting directly to a publisher before you’ve published any articles. The idea here is that academic publishers will not be interested in producing a book that has already had its main ideas appear elsewhere.

Neither option is necessarily easier. Turning your dissertation into a book will still require quite a bit of editing. For example, in an academic book, detailed methodological descriptions are often moved to the appendix, if they are included at all.

That said, you can take solace in the fact that you are not the first person to have to make this decision. Even better, there’s a large body of literature devoted to helping students determine whether their dissertation is best suited to be a book, an article, or none of the above. Books that may be helpful for students struggling with this decision include From Dissertation to Book by William Germano; Revising Your Dissertation, edited by Beth Luey; and The Thesis and the Book: A Guide for First-Time Academic Authors. Who knows? The Walden Library might even have digital copies of these texts.


Jonah Charney-Sirott
In his role as consultant in the Walden Writing Center, Jonah Charney-Sirott aims to "provide the type of assistance that not only can fix a sentence, but make it shine."


  1. I love to see every presentation in its entire write up. This is interesting.

  2. Thanks, Olufemi. We think so too. But it can also be helpful to think of the presentation as a step in the process towards something larger. One step on the journey towards your grand work!