Guidelines for Revising Dissertations
Revising your PhD dissertation for publication as a monograph is an important step in your academic career. The revision process takes time and effort, but it is a worthwhile pursuit. The main points to consider are: editing; writing a proposal; and marketing.
The PhD dissertation is designed to demonstrate your capacity for original research and a certain level of specialist knowledge in your field. In contrast, your first monograph is designed to demonstrate the importance of your research in the wider academic field. For this reason it needs to be well-written and accessible. It is important to present the research in a way that emphasizes its relevance and its interest to scholars beyond your particular area of specialization.
There are four major differences between a dissertation and a monograph:
· Audience—The audience for your first monograph is broader than the audience for your dissertation. You want to attract a wide readership in the appropriate field(s).
· Comprehensiveness and innovation—The PhD dissertation requires both comprehensiveness and innovation; your first monograph should emphasize innovation. It is expected to present innovative research in an accessible manner.
· Style, coherence, and structure –The style of your work should be accessible. The overall structure should be clear and engaging, with chapters progressing logically through an argument and forming a coherent whole. As far as possible, literature reviews should be condensed to a few pages and/or integrated at appropriate points in the argument.
· References, citations, and data—In a monograph, citations, quotations, and references should be as streamlined as possible. Edit or eliminate unnecessarily lengthy footnotes; if an argument is important, include it in your main text. Reduce the number of quotations; re-state things in your own words wherever possible. Make reference to other publications as often as you need to, not as often as you can. Focus on engaging your reader.
Once you have re-written the text in a clear and engaging manner, it is important to revisit your title, your chapter headings, and your abstract. The title and chapter headings should capture the content but should also be as short as possible. The title should be general, something that grabs the attention of potential readers. The subtitle provides the opportunity to expound on the main title, but again you should do this in as few words as possible. Chapter headings should follow the same pattern. They should not be a full sentence with several subclauses; they should be concise and clear. Finally, revisit your abstract. Begin by eliminating any jargon. Make the text clear and engaging. If you are unsure, the best thing to do is to ask for advice from someone who knows your work well.
It is also important that you revise your work in a timely manner, so that it reflects up-to-date research at the time of publication. It can be daunting to sit down with your dissertation again and do the necessary editing, but it is well worth the effort.