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Academic Publishing : Publishing your dissertation

This guide will provide you with information, suggestions, and resources for preparing your written work for publication, including information on open access publishing.

Turning a thesis into a book

Things not to do

  • Never assume that even an award-winning dissertation is already a scholarly book
  • Never assume that a publisher or a reader will treat a first book as a practice exercise
  • Never submit a manuscript deceptively. If it's going to more than one house at a time, say so.
  • Never conceal from a potential publisher arrangements you have already made for the publication of chapters in journals or in edited volumes, in print or online
  • Never send a manuscript to a publisher unless you have been asked to do so
  • Never assume that an award-winning scholarly book couldn't have begun as a dissertation (Germano, 2013, pp.157-158).

Dissertation vs. book

According to William Germano (2013), the finished dissertation is "not-yet-a-book" (p. 20). In other words, before the dissertation becomes a book, it needs to undergo a thorough revision process to make the document applicable to a wider reading audience. See below for how Germano distinguishes between a dissertation and a book:

Dissertation Book
Fulfills an academic requirement Fulfills a desire to speak broadly
Audience: one's dissertation committee Audience: thousands of people you don't know
Rehearses scholarship in the field Has absorbed scholarship in the field, and builds on it
Length: unlimited Length: strategically controlled for marketability
Dependent on quotations, often in blocks Quotes others judiciously
Hides the authorial voice Creates and sustains an authorial voice
Structure demonstrates analytic skills Structure demonstrates authorial voice
Examples are numerous, repetitive Examples are well chosen and move the story forward
Few, long chapters Several chapters of readable length
Stops Concludes

Germano, W. (2013). From dissertation to book. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

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