By Camille Gamboa, SAGE US PR & Conventions Assistant
Part 4: The Transformation
As you are transforming your work into something publishable, remember that your paper, dissertation, or thesis was written with a specific purpose and serves a different function than published book or journal article. For example, Sarah Caro, author of How to Publish your PhD, states that a thesis is written for a small audience of experts on the topic at hand, so the writing style is defensive and meant to showcase the knowledge of the writer. This means that you will need to spend some time revising the structure, style, organization, and tone of your work so that it can fulfill a different purpose. Here are some tips to help you through the process:
- Detach yourself for a minute – Although it may seem impossible, try to look at your work with a fresh set of non-thesis-driven eyes. To help, Dr. Charlotte Frost, an experienced academic and founder of the blog phd2published, suggests googling your topic to see what is out there in the non-academic world. You may be surprised by the different perspectives that you find on a topic that you thought you were becoming an expert on.
- Know your Genre – Caro lists the PhD or thesis, academic journal article, academic monograph, textbook, and academic book as some basic sub-genres for scholarly writing. Each of these sub-genres has a different audience with a different set of expectations. After deciding which type of publication is the right fit for your work, it is also important to adapt your paper to its specific genre.
- Caro states that the audience of an academic journal is pretty well-informed, so information that is reasonably assumed to be shared by the audience does not need to be described in such detail. Additionally, Dr. Sarah-Louise Quinnell, an experienced social scientist and blogger for phd2published, says that writing for a journal article should be more focused as a thesis or dissertation often addresses a wider variety of issues.
- A book, conversely, will have a broader audience, so Caro states that you will need to do some research to broaden the scope of your work. For example, you can do research on related disciplines and then write so that your topic crosses disciplinary boundaries. If you need help knowing what the content or style of your book should look like, Frost states that you should look over a list of comparable books to decide what you want your book to look like (or not to look like as the case may be).
- Make your paper self-reliant – While a dissertation, thesis, or paper will rely heavily on the work of past researchers, a published book or journal article should not utilize too many citations or direct quotations. Quinnell states that a journal article should be completely “self-standing” in that it shouldn’t depend on other resources. While it is important to explain how your work fits into different strands of research, this part of your published paper should be concise.
- Revise you language – According to Caro, in order to cater to a wider audience, it is important that you avoid excessive jargon or overly complicated language. Additionally, your writing for a journal should be more succinct and less verbose.
- Let it go without getting rid of it – Remember that your work is already out there in its entirety in the form of a thesis, dissertation or paper, so don’t be afraid to let parts of it go in order to fit a different audience or tighter page restrictions. However, hold on to older or longer versions of your paper just in case you need something from them. It may help to save different versions with the number of pages you are at or the date.
While it may seem like a grueling process at times, remember that publishing your dissertation, thesis, or paper can be well worth it. Think of it like turning countless hours of hard work into something tangible, public, and (hopefully) praiseworthy. Not only might it be an important contribution for your field of study, but it may also be just what you need to progress in your scholarly journey.
Stay in touch with the SAGE Connection as we provide more tips for all of you (potentially) published scholars in the future.
For more tips from some experienced professionals, visit the phd2published and Post Academic blogs or check out Caro’s How to Publish your PhD, published by SAGE. And check out our previous blog posts related to publishing your paper: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.