American Psychological Association

Adapting a Dissertation or Thesis Into a Journal Article

Dissertations or theses are typically required of graduate students. Undergraduate students completing advanced research projects may also write senior theses or similar types of papers. Once completed, the dissertation or thesis is often submitted (with modifications) as a manuscript for publication in a scholarly journal. Thus, the dissertation or thesis often provides the foundation for a new researcher’s body of published work.

Writers will first want to determine whether the work in their dissertation or thesis merits publication. If it does, we then provide guidance on how to adapt a dissertation or thesis for submission to a journal.

phd dissertation journal

This guidance is  new  to the 7th edition.

Deciding to submit a dissertation or thesis for publication

When deciding whether to publish the work in your dissertation or thesis, first consider whether the findings tell a compelling story or answer important questions. Whereas dissertations and theses may present existing knowledge in conjunction with new work, published research should make a novel contribution to the literature. For example, some of your original research questions might be suitable for publication, and others may have been sufficiently addressed in the literature already. Likewise, some of your results may warrant additional experiments or analyses that could help answer the research questions more fully, and you may want to conduct these analyses before seeking publication.

You may also want to consider such factors as whether the current sample size provides sufficient power to adequately inform the analyses and whether additional analyses might clarify ambiguous findings. Consultation with colleagues can help evaluate the potential of the manuscript for publication as well as the selection of an appropriate journal to which to submit it. For information on selecting and prioritizing a journal (and tips for avoiding predatory or deceptive journals), see Sections 12.2 to 12.4 of the Publication Manual .

Adapting a dissertation or thesis for publication

Once a decision is made to convert your dissertation or thesis into a manuscript for submission to a journal, you will want to focus attention on adapting it for publication. By attending to brevity and focus, writing style, relevant literature review and data analyses, and appropriate interpretation of the results or findings, you can enhance the fit of your manuscript for journal publication. Editors and reviewers readily recognize an article that has been hastily converted; careful attention when reformatting the dissertation or thesis is likely to increase the manuscript’s potential for serious consideration and eventual publication.

There are several steps writers seeking to prepare their dissertation or thesis for publication can take beforehand:

The original research reported in a dissertation and thesis can then be reformatted for journal submission following one of two general strategies: the multiple-paper strategy or the conversion strategy.

Multiple-paper strategy

The quickest strategy for converting (or “flipping”) a dissertation or thesis into one or more publishable articles is to use a multiple-paper format when initially writing the dissertation or thesis. This involves structuring the dissertation or thesis used to fulfill the requirements for a degree as a series of shorter papers that are already formatted for journal submission (or close to it). These papers are usually each the length of a journal article, conceptually similar, and come from the same overarching project—but can stand alone as independent research reports. Consult your university’s editorial office to confirm that this is an approved format for your dissertation or thesis and to obtain the specific guidelines.

Conversion strategy

A second strategy is to reformat and convert a dissertation or thesis into a journal article after completing your dissertation or thesis defense to fit the scope and style of a journal article. This often requires adjustments to the following elements:

phd dissertation journal

How to Write a Journal Article from a Thesis

Table of Contents

You are almost done with your PhD thesis and want to convert it into a journal article. Or, you’re initiating a career as a journal writer and intend to use your thesis as a starting point for an article. Whatever your situation, turning a thesis into a journal article is a logical step and a process that eventually every researcher completes. But…how to start?

The first thing to know about converting a thesis into a journal article is how different they are:

Thesis Characteristics:

Journal Article Characteristics:

Converting your thesis to a journal article may be complex, but it’s not impossible.

A thesis is a document of academic nature, so it’s more detailed in content. A journal article, however, is shorter, highlighting key points in a more succinct format. Adapting a thesis for conversion into a journal article is a time-consuming and intricate process that can take you away from other important work. In that case, Elsevier’s Language Editing services may help you focus on important matters and provide a high-quality text for submission in no time at all.

If you are going to convert a thesis into a journal article, with or without professional help, here is a list of some of the steps you will likely have to go through:

1. Identify the best journal for your work

2. Shorten the length of your thesis

3. Reformat the introduction as an abstract

4. Modify the introduction

5. Tighten the methods section

6. Report main findings in the results

7. Discussion must be clear and concise

8. Limit the number of references

If you are not a proficient English speaker, the task of converting a thesis into a journal article might make it even more difficult. At Elsevier’s Language Editing services we ensure that your manuscript is written in correct scientific English before submission. Our professional proofers and editors check your manuscript in detail, taking your text as our own and with the guarantee of maximum text quality.

Language editing services by Elsevier Author Services:


Discover the Target Audience of Your Research Paper


Paper Rejected by Journal. Now what?

You may also like.

Writing an Effective Cover Letter for Manuscript Resubmission

Writing an Effective Cover Letter for Manuscript Resubmission

Journal Acceptance Rates

Journal Acceptance Rates: Everything You Need to Know

Research Data Storage and Retention

Research Data Storage and Retention

How to Appeal a Journal Decision

How to Appeal a Journal Decision

How to Get an Article Published: Checklist

How to Get an Article Published: Checklist

How to Find and Select Reviewers for Journal Articles

How to Find and Select Reviewers for Journal Articles

The Scientific Publishing Process

The Scientific Publishing Process

Sharing my research during the Publication Process

Sharing my Research During the Publication Process

Input your search keywords and press Enter.

Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 181 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow , the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Academia Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for academics and those enrolled in higher education. It only takes a minute to sign up.

Q&A for work

Connect and share knowledge within a single location that is structured and easy to search.

How do I cite my own PhD dissertation in a journal article?

I recently finished my PhD, and now I'm in the process of submitting a journal article on the work I did in the final few months of my degree. This work is an extension to some conference papers that I'd published earlier, and so I've cited them in my journal article stating how the submitted work differs from the published material. When I submitted the article to the journal, I mentioned in a cover letter that the same results/algorithms exist in my PhD dissertation.

After submission, I received a note from the journal to also cite my own PhD dissertation in the article, as there is a fair bit of similarity. The note said:

You can resubmit after you have referenced the original article, and explained in your new article how this new work builds on your previous publication(s).

Considering the work presented in the journal article is not really an extension, and is pretty much the same as in the dissertation, how do I properly reference it? In my experience, I have not seen papers where the authors cited their own dissertation in the text.

HighVoltage's user avatar

5 Answers 5

In my experience (Theoretical Computer Science/Mathematical Logic) this issue is typically handled by having the sentence "This article is based on Chapter X of the author's PhD thesis \cite{myThesis}." as a stand-alone paragraph at the end of the introduction section.

Having just the plain sentence is consistent with the article having been edited only minimally to turn a chapter into a stand-alone article. If there are substantial differences, these can be pointed out in addition. Eg "We refer the reader to \cite{myThesis} for a much more detailed exposition of the proof."

Arno's user avatar

If the dissertation is "published" then cite it like any other work. Otherwise cite it by name and authors and mark the citation as (doctoral dissertation, U of the Universe, unpublished).

It might only take a note or a short paragraph somewhere to explain how the present paper is related to the dissertation. "Builds" was just boilerplate. In fact, the note you sent to the editors might be enough if it is incorporated in a "prior work" paragraph or two.

"Published" is a nebulous term for dissertations. It can mean other than "by a recognized publisher". For example, some dissertations are "published" by the university and available via the Library or by ProQuest/University Microfilms.

But, failure to cite the ideas is self plagiarism. When in doubt, cite, even if you think it is over-citation.

Some dissertations are nothing more than a collection of previously published work along with a description of how it fits together as a whole. In such a case, just cite the individual papers as you would those of any researcher. Such dissertations are common in some fields and are also sometimes known as "stapled" distributions.

Buffy's user avatar

When I submitted the article to the journal, I mentioned in a cover letter that the same results/algorithms exist in my PhD dissertation.

The editor made a mistake. Very probably an automated plagiarism check was performed without viewing the cover letter or examining the type of document the plagiarism check located. The editor thought your dissertation was an article, which it obviously is not.

Are you sure this is a good quality journal? How do I identify predatory and low quality journals? With Beall's List gone, how can I tell if a journal is spam?

It is perfectly normal to cite your own dissertation the same way you would cite someone else's.

Once you have cited your dissertation and determined this is a good journal, you can write in your response letter that the submission is a portion of your dissertation and it is not previously published in any journal (assuming that's true.)

Anonymous Physicist's user avatar

Traditionally, PhD theses constitute a public proof of your abilities and therefore need to be published. (This is certainly true in the places in Europe I know, but a quick search revealed e.g. the same for Harvard , and I assume it is true for more US places as well).

The traditional way of this publication process would be to print a certain number of copies and hand them in at your library, which would then distribute it to some central libraries (national library etc.) which hold a copy of anything published in a country/region. There is no need to be able to order the thesis with a publisher, for it to have an ISBN number, etc.. (Semi-fun fact: When people started chasing German politician who plagiarized their PhD thesis, in some cases all copies were borrowed from those libraries and were never returned.)

These days, the publication process (at least in natural sciences) often consists in submitted an electronic version which is made available on the website of the university library. (It might be that a reduced number of printed copies still needs to be handed in.)

In either case, this constitutes a publication which can be cited. It should be cited like any other book, i.e.,

High Voltage, "On current and resistance", PhD thesis, Tesla University, Berlin, 2021,

or corresponding to the journal style. If it is published on the library website, it makes a lot of sense to add the URL or (if existent) DOI.

Of course, if the PhD thesis is not published, this is different, and it need not be cited. (In fact, one might argue it cannot be cited, as it is not a publication.) In any case, if you are unsure you should check with your university, most likely either the library or the graduation office.

user151413's user avatar

You could try pre-printing it and citing the preprint. Benefits are short time to `publication' (a couple of days, maximum, and only on a weekend) so very short delay to resubmission, moreover, the citation still counts for h-indices etc. I am sure that arXiv does theses as I have definitely read some there.

A proper citation could simply be a sentence like ``[type of result] [number or name if applicable] was developed in [citation], and is [restated/extended/some other word] here."

[citation] Your Name, Year, Your Dissertation Title, Dissertation from [your univ.]

This citation may be adapted if you do indeed arxiv it.

rage_man's user avatar

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for browse other questions tagged citations journals paper-submission ..

Hot Network Questions

phd dissertation journal

Your privacy

By clicking “Accept all cookies”, you agree Stack Exchange can store cookies on your device and disclose information in accordance with our Cookie Policy .

Sengi Data Clinical Reporting Logo


Researchers are under immense pressure to publish. Without publications your career will stagnate and you could find yourself unemployed and unemployable. This difficult situation is often described as “Publish or Perish.” A simple way to get early publications is to convert your PhD thesis into journal articles.

There is significant effort involved to publish PhD thesis work, but the vast majority of the work is already done. You reviewed the literature, planned and carried out the experiment, analyzed the data, and made conclusions. However, writing a thesis is different than writing a journal article. In this guide, we offer tips on how to convert your PhD thesis into journal articles.

Is this Self-Plagiarism?

Self-plagiarism is the reuse of one’s own work. Journals are very active in preventing this type of academic fraud. Logically you are wondering whether converting your thesis into journal articles is indeed self-plagiarism.

Though each journal will have their own specific take on this, generally this is not considered self-plagiarism. In most cases, the copyright for a thesis remains with you, the author. Additionally, the journal articles will be substantially different from your thesis. You may combine chapters, update the literature cited, change the scope to reflect the journal’s audience, and significantly rewrite the text.

It is best practice to cite your thesis, where appropriate, in your journal articles. Also, be up front with the editor when you submit your paper and tell them that you converted portions of your PhD thesis into the article. They can offer guidance.

Experimental Chapters

A good place to start your conversion is to look at each experimental chapter – the chapters describing your methods and research findings. Often, each experimental chapter can be a standalone research article. Reread each experimental chapter and determine if there is enough data to be a research article. If not, try combining experimental chapters together until you have a good enough ‘story’ to be a research article.

Next, you will need to convert these thesis chapters in the actual research articles. Journals have a rigid structure that must be followed. Typically:

Introduction Materials and Methods Results Discussion Conclusions

Journals also have strict word limits, therefore it is likely that you will need to cut out a lot of text during the conversion. Update the introduction and discussion with relevant information and citations to the target audience of the journal. Often, thesis chapters can include very basic information. Know your audience and write for them. Also remember to be concise.

If you are combining experimental chapters, remove redundancies, especially in the materials and methods, results, and discussion. Convert text into figures and tables where you can. Update existing figures and tables to conform with the journal guidelines and to include combined data from the multiple chapters. Be mindful of any figure and table limits of your target journal.

Literature Review

An often overlooked place to convert your thesis into journal articles is the literature review chapter. A lot of effort went into researching the relevant literature for your thesis work. Your academic supervisors and thesis committee members benefitted from reading your literature review, and other researchers in your field can too. You can turn this chapter into a standalone research article – a review article.

First, determine which portions of your literature are relevant. For example, if your thesis focused on a novel experimental method to measure X, then it could make sense to write a literature review about all techniques that measure X – including yours.

Next, pull out the relevant portions of your thesis and use them to form an outline for your literature review article. Modify the text to match your target audience (the journal audience). You will likely identify gaps in your outline. Research the current literature and fill them.

A PhD thesis can have many different reference sources, such as journal articles, books, conference proceedings, and dissertations. Be sure to update your references to include mainly peer-reviewed journal articles.

Publications are usually all that matters to advance your career as a researcher. A good place to start publishing is to convert your thesis into journal articles. By following this guide, you can take your experimental chapters, and your literature review and turn them into published journal articles.

Make the Best Choice for your Research

Sengi helps small and medium-sized businesses get brilliant ocular health discoveries into the hands of your ideal customer. You don’t need to have a specialized writer in-house to turn your research into reality.

contact sengi data for reporting testing

Contact Sengi

sengi footer logo

The Sengi team is led by Dr. Brad Hall, a vision scientist and expert medical writer. A regular peer reviewer for several medical and ophthalmology journals, Dr. Hall has authored a multitude of articles personally, is a successful grant writer, medical writer, and master of the art of simplifying data and statistical analysis. Since launching in 2015, Sengi has provided medical writing and biostatistics analysis expertise to SMBs and researchers around the world that lacked the necessary means to share their scientific breakthroughs outside of the lab. Sengi’s work has enabled these companies to put advanced technology into the hands of those who need them most.

Copyright © Sengi. Site design and amazing marketing by Jelly Triangle .

Tress Academic

Publishing papers from a PhD thesis

#123: Publishing papers from a PhD thesis

May 17, 2022 by Tress Academic

If you have completed your PhD with a monograph, AKA a thesis, you might wonder if you can convert your thesis into journal papers. Are you allowed to do this, and what is the best way to do it? Here, we describe the steps you should consider when you convert your PhD thesis into papers.

Converting a monograph PhD thesis into papers is a great idea, particularly if you want a career in academia. Papers are the current currency in academic career development. You want to show others that you’ve done good work. And if you have not written papers alongside the monograph, it seems obvious to consider writing papers  based on your PhD project after the monograph is completed. Journal papers will help spread the results of your PhD study in your community; papers have a better reach and are easier to consume by your peers than a monograph thesis. So there are very good reasons to publish papers from a PhD thesis! 

Of course you could have written papers from the start, but if your PhD ended with a monograph, it is pointless starting such a discussion now. There are often many practical reasons why you published a monograph and not papers. For more details on this discussion, see our post #6, Dissertation dilemma? Hand in a monograph or papers?  

What counts now is that you’re considering getting more out of your thesis by turning some of your thesis work into papers. We want to help you with these 10 steps that you can follow: 

1. Answer these essential questions first

Successfully completed PhD researchers often ask the question: “Can I publish papers from my monograph?” In general, we say: “Yes, you can, but … you first must determine whether you’re allowed to publish your work with regard to permissions, copyright, ethics, originality, plagiarism, and foreign language versions.” If you’re unsure on these issues, please have a critical look at the 7 questions that we’ve prepared for you in the free worksheet “Key questions before you start.” Once you’ve checked this and you know you’re allowed to publish your work, follow the remaining steps outlined below. 

2. Select content from your thesis

The structure and extent of detail vary between PhD monographs and journal papers. Don’t aim to include all of your thesis in one paper—this will likely result in a too long, too broad, and less interesting paper. Readers of journal papers often look for answers and input on specific problems, and your thesis encompasses too many problems and topics. Select one of the topics from your thesis for one paper, and another one for another paper, if you like. Of course, you can write several papers from your thesis, and also several paper types. Have a look at post #28 about What type of journal paper to write?

3. Don’t copy and paste but rewrite and update 

You might feel tempted to copy whole sections, if not chapters, from your thesis and paste them into your paper.Don’t do it! A journal paper is less wordy and has a different internal logic than a monograph chapter. It is much better to rewrite what you wrote in the monograph and update it with new references or information where necessary and possible. Doing so will strengthen the originality of this new paper compared to your monograph!  

4. What is original in your work?

Space in the journal paper is very limited, and so you should  try to fill it with your most original work. In a monograph, you typically give the reader the big picture of a problem, including its historical development. Cut this down in your paper and focus on your work. You can assume that the readers of your paper are from your field, and they will know a lot about the background already. They are more interested in the new stuff that you’re contributing to the field. 

5. Start with the most important work

You may plan to write at least 3, 4, or even 5 papers from your PhD work. If you can do this, you should definitely go for it, but sometimes life moves on and there isn’t enough time to follow through on all the plans we have. Most likely, you will only manage to write 1 or 2  papers from your monograph because you are working on a new project or a new position and there’s a lot of work to do there. To prevent running out of time to write up the really cool stuff from your PhD study, start writing the first paper on this stuff first. Pick your most important work from your PhD study and make sure it gets published. If something else comes up afterwards, you at least got this important work out there! 

phd dissertation journal

6. Transfer your introduction into a review paper

An obvious paper to write from your PhD monograph is a review paper. You have most likely done a detailed literature study on your PhD topic in a separate chapter of your thesis. This would be a great starting point for a literature review on the topic as you’ve done most of the work already. You would need to focus on a specific aspect for your review, report how you selected the literature in the first place, and look for recent updates to the literature since you did the review for your thesis. Then, identify a journal that could be interested in a review on this topic and go for it. Check our two posts #50, Mastering the literature review during the Corona lockdown , and #91, Find the right journal for your paper following these 8 steps for further help. 

7. Tell the journal 

In your cover letter, tell the journal editors that your submitted paper is based on your (un-)published PhD thesis and include the reference to it. Be very clear and open about it and don’t try to hide it, but also make it clear to the journal that you consider your paper a valuable and original contribution to the wider readership of the journal. Journals are not against publishing work from PhD theses in general as they would not consider a thesis a formal publication.  

8. Cite your thesis

It’s not enough to tell the editors that your work is derived from your PhD monograph–make this clear to your readers and actively cite your PhD monograph. No need to cite it all the time in the paper–either pick a prominent place within your paper to cite it or add it to the acknowledgment section. 

9. Limit the number of references

A PhD monograph is often a reference work where interested readers can find all the important literature that has been published on the topic so far. That’s not needed in a journal paper. Here, you’ll write for readers who are experts in the field, just like you. Of course you should refer to the most recent relevant studies and give credit to all the work you used, but don’t provide any additional references.

Paper Writing Academy

10. Keep your text short

How many pages is your monograph? About 100, 200, or more? However long, it is far longer than the paper you’re going to write and this can make it difficult to pare down. You’ll probably think that your paper is too short and then you’ll add one more paragraph and another because there’s plenty of material to take from the monograph. Don’t be afraid when your paper looks skinny next to your monograph–if all relevant, and not all available information is included, it’s the right length!

For any academic career you might pursue, having a selection of papers that detail your work is indispensable! Therefore, seriously consider turning some of the material from your PhD monograph into journal papers—only the material you’re most proud of. You’ll need to check first that you’re not running into any ethical or legal conflict by doing so, and you’ll also need to consider the specific rules within your academic field. A great source for help is the website of the Imperial College London (2022), and our worksheet Key questions before you start will help you double-check, but for most cases, it won’t be a problem to turn your thesis into papers. In fact we think it is a great idea, and encourage you to do so! 


More information:

Do you want to successfully write and publish a journal paper? If so, please sign up to receive our free guides.

Photo by Aaron Burdon on Unsplash

© 2022 Tress Academic

We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy . By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

Extracting a journal article from your thesis

Top tips from award-winning author.

Marissa Rollnick explains how to extract journal articles from your thesis

What should you consider before and during the process of writing an article from your thesis?

We caught up with Marissa Rollnick, winner of a 2018  NARST  Distinguished Contributions to Science Education through Research Award, who gave us her advice for those starting out.

Turning your thesis into publications should mark the beginning of your publication career. It is important to publish work post PhD 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 simply a task of cutting and pasting. The purpose and format of a thesis or dissertation is 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 arguments they are making. This can make the thesis repetitive and full of detail. The wider 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 findings are authentic and trustworthy.

Post information

Related posts, insights topics.

Selecting articles from a thesis or dissertation depends greatly on the work itself. There may be new theories, methods or findings 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, selecting a journal, writing the article.

Reviewing the article before submission

Vector illustration of a large puzzle, with 5 characters standing on it, representing the journey of writing a paper.

Anyone included as an author of a journal article must have made  a significant contribution to it . You may need to decide whether this includes your supervisor and agree the order of the authors’ names. Different disciplines have different authorship practices, but in the humanities the principal author is mentioned first.

Vector illustration of a pink light bulb.

Editor’s note: How common is co-authorship and what are the challenges faced by those who collaborate? Our white paper, Co-authorship in the Humanities and Social Sciences: A global view , explores the experiences of 894 researchers from 62 countries.

A single paper in a journal should contain a central message that you want to get across. This could be a novel aspect of methodology that you have used in your PhD study, a new theory, or an interesting modification you have made to theory or a novel set of findings. Decide what this central focus is.

Then create a paper outline bearing in mind the need to:

Vector illustration of a tree with a character on the left and another character on the right, watering the tree.

Isolate a manageable size

Create a coherent story/argument

Make the argument self-standing

Target the journal readership

Change the writing conventions from that used in your thesis

Selecting a journal is a very important step in planning the article. The journal you select should target appropriate readership, be accredited and be accessible 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 papers?

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 appropriate 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.

Vector illustration depicting two characters choosing a journal from a screen which is in the middle of them.

When selecting your journal think about 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?

When writing the article consider your choice of ‘theoretical framework’ and ‘voice’. Be clear what your article is about, and what it is trying to do. Finally ask your supervisor /co-author to go through the article with the following in mind:

Vector illustration of a character in grey, sat crossed legged, on an open laptop with a WiFi symbol above it.

Use the criteria the reviewers will use.

Read and edit acting 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 proof readers. This is not a sign of weakness as the editor has some distance from the article. This is particularly important if you come from a country where a different language to that of the journal is used.

Marissa Rollnick is professor emeritus in science education at Wits University of Education in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a doctorate in science education from Wits University and is a specialist in academic development and science education. Her professional career includes appointments as high school science and maths teacher, teacher educator (William Pitcher college, Swaziland and University of Swaziland), lecturer and professor in chemistry and chemistry education on access programmes and subsequently teacher education at Wits University and science education research at Wits University. She has had various visiting appointments at University of York, UK, Western Michigan University (Fulbright award), USA and University of Cape Town. She is currently also working at the Univerisites of Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Where to next?

If you’ve found these tips helpful make sure you look at:

Our podcast series for researchers – 15 minutes to develop your research career (which includes the episode mentioned in this post)

Our Insights newsletter – the latest news, tips, and resources delivered straight to your inbox.

Share this post on social


Today’s Hours

Featured services.

phd dissertation journal

phd dissertation journal

Previously Published Works in a Dissertation or Thesis

Using your own previously published works: a guide.

As you begin work on your ETD, you may wish to incorporate part or all of another related work you have previously published. Before using the related work, you should remember to do three things:

First, determine whether you have the right to use your previously published work. You may think “Since I wrote it, of course I have the right,” but that might not be the case. Before publication, you likely signed a publisher’s agreement that waived some of your rights to your own work. In some cases, you may have given up everything! Every agreement is different, so if you want to use your previously published work you should first check the publishing agreement you signed to confirm what rights you still have. Some publishing agreements specifically allow for re-publication in a dissertation. Others may state a certain time period before you can republish. Scroll down to Resources and Examples  for examples of copyright transfer agreements.

Next, if you had co-written your previously published work, you may need to ask your co-authors if it is okay to use the work in your dissertation.

Finally, if you use your own previously published work, you must cite it. You should check your publishing agreement because it might specify the format of the citation. If your publishing agreement does not specify, please use a standard citation style (APA, MLA, etc.). Not citing a work, even if it is your own, is a form of plagiarism unacceptable in academia.

What if I do not have permission to use my previously published works?

First, try to get permission. Most journals provide contact information specifically for this purpose. Contact the journal or publisher and explain that you would like to use your work for a dissertation/thesis. You may adapt the text of the sample letter below.

Sample Copyright Permissions Letter (14.45 KB)

The journal or publisher may request that you only include a certain portion of your work, or place other restrictions on its use. 

If your publisher denies permission, you still have options. While what you published is copyrighted, the data behind your study is not. You can go back to your data and use it to rewrite some of your findings.  Then you may, of course, reference and cite this new work like any other. 

If you do rewrite some of your findings for your dissertation, be sure you do not express your ideas in the same way as in the previously published work. Think of how the film West Side Story tells the same tale as Romeo and Juliet: same story, different expression.

Next Steps:

After you have made sure that you have permission to use your previously published work, how do you proceed? 

You are required to place the statements from Steps 1 and 2 before the abstract of your full dissertation. In the case of a three-essay format, place the information immediately prior to the abstract for that specific essay.

Sample Text:  This dissertation/thesis is based in [full or part] on the previously published article(s)/book chapter(s) listed below. [If you have co-authors, include the statement:] I have permission from my co-authors/publishers to use the work(s) listed below in my dissertation/thesis. Copies of all copyright permissions are in Appendix X of this document. [Place your journal or book chapter citation here].

3. Place copyright permissions from publishers, thesis endorsements/copies of written and/or signed statements of permission from your co-authors in the last appendix of the document. Copies of emails from publishers or co-authors are acceptable.

Resources and Examples

Sample copyright transfer agreements.

This sample Taylor & Francis agreement specifically gives the author the right to publish their work as part of a thesis/dissertation. Note that while permission has been given to use the work in a dissertation, it must be a non-commercial dissertation [note Section 4(viii)]. If your agreement contains language similar to the above, please contact Valerie Emerson at [email protected] before submitting your ETD.

The Optical Society agreement above provides for the full transfer of rights and is completely silent about dissertations. Therefore, someone who published with this society must get permission from them before using the work in a dissertation. 

This John Wiley & Sons agreement specifically allows for the reuse of published material in another publication provided that the reused material doesn’t make up more than 50% of the new publication. [Section C(2)(b)]

Questions about Copyright?

You may make an appointment with Barrett Matthews (Gelman Library Compliance Officer, Copyright & Scholarly Communications​). 


Where To Find Journal Articles For PhD Research: A Beginner’s Guide

phd dissertation journal

Writing a high-quality dissertation or thesis requires the student to review high-quality original papers. Whereas books and grey literature provide useful information for dissertation writing, the majority of the sources should come from peer-reviewed journal articles. This composition of references cited in a dissertation is one of the things that examiners look at when marking a PhD student’s dissertation.

This post is a useful guide for PhD and Masters students preparing to write their dissertations or theses on where they can find original peer-reviewed articles.

Specifically, novice PhD students can find original journal papers from: online journal databases, Google Scholar, ResearchGate and Twitter.

Online journal databases

There are many online journal databases, each covering specific fields. The databases have several journals within them, each covering a specific field of research.

The databases in most cases require subscription but most universities have subscribed to them. If a student is not sure, they should check with their university’s library.

In order to access the databases, students are required to log in with their institutional email addresses.

The table below provides examples of common journal databases and their websites (arranged alphabetically):

The list of databases in the above table is not exhaustive.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a great start for finding relevant journal articles.

To use Google Scholar:

Google Scholar page

Searching for articles in Google Scholar

Related articles

Cited by in Google Scholar

Creating alerts in Google Scholar


ResearchGate is a great networking platform for researchers across the world. One can follow researchers in their areas of interest as well as specific research projects that are relevant to their research.

The search bar on ResearchGate can be used to search for research articles and authors.

To use ResearchGate:

Profile in ResearchGate

Under the overview tab, fill in details about your research interests, areas of focus, the languages you speak, your disciplines, and skills and expertise.

Under the research tab, include the projects you are working on as well as your publications.

Under the experience tab, fill in your professional experience, your education background, any grants, awards or scholarships you have received, and your affiliations.

The stats tab shows the number of citations, reads and recommendations you have received on your research publications.

The scores tab calculates your scores with regard to the exposure of your research work and how engaging you are on the platform.

The following tab shows all the research and topics you follow.

Lastly, in the saved list tab you can save research works that are of interest to you and which you can read later.

It is therefore easy to receive information about new research articles that have been published in your areas of interest.

Search bar in ResearchGate

Another advantage of using ResearchGate is that it will notify you via email every time your followers publish new papers or anytime a project you follow is updated. This helps you to stay updated in your research fields.

Twitter is a social media platform but can also serve as a great source for finding original journal articles. Like ResearchGate, you can find journal articles on Twitter in two ways:

Most researchers on Twitter tend to tweet their new publications as soon as they are published.

Besides checking on Twitter’s feed for new publications, one can click on the profiles of the experts in their fields and check what they have been up to, for instance, what projects they have been involved in, what papers they have published etc.

The advantage of using the search bar is that the search results always include not just published papers, but also events such as webinars and conferences that are being held on the searched topic across the world, grey literature being published by the organisations in the industry, and global news about the searched topic. All these sources of information are valuable for writing a high-quality and up-to-date dissertation.

How to use Twitter's search bar

Final thoughts on where to find original journal papers for PhD research

For PhD students, the quality of the references used in their dissertations or theses is as important as the quantity of the references. It is a classic case of “garbage in, garbage out.” While there are many places where PhD students can source for the original papers, this post lists four important and credible sources, some of which (such as ResearchGate and Twitter) are often overlooked yet they are highly valuable in finding not only quality research papers but also in connecting with experts in various fields.

Related Posts

How to Read Journal Papers Quickly and Effectively

Academic Referencing 101 (The What, Why and How)

Grace Njeri-Otieno

Grace Njeri-Otieno is a Kenyan, a wife, a mom, and currently a PhD student, among many other balls she juggles. She holds a Bachelors' and Masters' degrees in Economics and has more than 7 years' experience with an INGO. She was inspired to start this site so as to share the lessons learned throughout her PhD journey with other PhD students. Her vision for this site is "to become a go-to resource center for PhD students in all their spheres of learning."

Recent Content

SPSS Tutorial #8: Preliminary Analysis using Graphs in SPSS

In addition to using descriptive statistics for preliminary analysis, one can also use graphs. Unlike the statistics, graphs offer a visual way of exploring the data further. This post illustrates...

SPSS Tutorial #7: Preliminary Analysis using Descriptive Statistics in SPSS

After checking for and correcting errors in your dataset, the next important step before running your analysis is to conduct preliminary analysis to explore the nature of your data. One can conduct...

This website does not fully support Internet Explorer. For a better experience, please consider using a modern browser such as Chrome , Firefox , or Edge .

How Do I Publish My Dissertation?

At the end of the doctoral journey, graduates are encouraged to publish their dissertation. Publishing the dissertation enables graduates to advance their academic career and establish valuable connections that can open doors for collaborating on future projects.

Publication Options

The first thing to know when understanding the process is that there are several ways to do it, each having different advantages. Grand Canyon University’s Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching (CIRT) provides four ways to publish a dissertation.

This commercial service for full-text theses and dissertations allows authors to choose between restricted and open-access publication. As this is not an academic source, publishing with ProQuest may diminish the credibility of your dissertation. Be aware that prior publications may lead to the rejection future submissions of your dissertation manuscript.


You may consider self-publishing your content, using a self-publishing services and retaining all profits that come from printing and distributing the book. As with ProQuest publications, self-publishing may diminish credibility and make it difficult to submit work.

Book publication is an option for some students. Most research is suitable for academic journals, but it may be appropriate to publish the dissertation as a book if it contains a significant amount of original work.

Scholarly Journals

Journals are the most common route for publishing dissertation content. Publishing in a journal has the benefit of editorial or peer review, and the narrow focus of most journals usually enables authors to publish parts of their dissertation in multiple publications.

Publishing in a Journal

Academic journals are the most common choice for publishing a dissertation, so it is the most important process to understand. It is important to know which journal best fits your dissertation, become familiar with the journal’s guidelines and to carefully interpret feedback on your work.

Select a Journal

Academic journals have a great deal of variety, organizing content tailored to specific academic interests. Peer-reviewed journals are the most common. In peer-reviewed journals, editorial boards will ask experts to review each submission to filter out low-quality content that would damage the journal’s integrity.

Open access journals leave their content free, unrestricted and online for public view. The most common way to make an open access journal is by directly publishing content in a “gold” journal, which provides open access to its readers. Non-open access journals are the traditional route for publication. Non-open access journals require that readers purchase a subscription.

To help decide which journals work best, read previous issues to get a sense of the journal’s academic focus. Make sure that the scope and aims of the journal align with your target audience and research. Be careful to avoid “predatory” publishers who appeal specifically to researchers willing to pay to have their work published. CIRT recommends that graduates check Beall’s List of Predatory Journals, an online resource that lists publications to avoid.

Rework Your Dissertation

Once you have selected your journal, you will need to tailor your research. Familiarize yourself with the journal’s submission guidelines and then begin reading through your dissertation. Keeping organized is crucial here, and the best place to start is to summarize your dissertation in a separate document and eliminate unnecessary information. After cutting unnecessary content, re-organizing the material into a smooth and logical order will provide a guideline for rewriting your dissertation.

Writing Your Cover Letter

When the time comes to submit your work, the first impression that comes from your cover letter is the difference between publication and an immediate rejection. Closely follow the submission requirements, avoid jargon, be concise and do not include any information that that the journal does not ask for.

Revision and Resubmission

If you receive reviewer feedback in a letter from the editor, read these comments carefully and mark any suggested revisions on your manuscript. Keep track of each revision so that you can reference them when writing a response letter to the editor.

Make the revisions you agree with, and be prepared to address the ones you disagree with in your response letter. You should proofread and review your work again carefully before resubmitting. If the changes are accepted, you will receive a number a proof copies to proofread before final production.

Take the next step in your career with the College of Doctoral Studies at Grand Canyon University. Our doctorate programs, such as the DBA in Data Analytics , will prepare you to advance in your academic career and give you the resources to lead and innovate in your field. Learn more by visiting our website or clicking on the Request More Information Button at the bottom of this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

Loading Form

More About GCU

Related Articles in Doctoral Journey

Strategic planner taking notes at an online meeting

A Look at a Typical Strategic Planner Job Description

Woman writing a conference paper on her laptop

What Is a Conference Paper and How Is It Written?

Doctoral graduate holds diploma

All But Dissertation: What Is It?


  1. (PDF) PhD Dissertation

    phd dissertation journal

  2. Get Your Ph.D Thesis Written By Scholars For Only 200 Bucks In Just Seven Days!

    phd dissertation journal

  3. The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #1

    phd dissertation journal

  4. (PDF) PhD Dissertation

    phd dissertation journal

  5. The PhD Chronicles: Dissertation Journal #4

    phd dissertation journal

  6. (PDF) PHD Dissertation

    phd dissertation journal


  1. Introduction Chapter of your PhD thesis

  2. Image processing Algorithm Contrast Limited Adaptive Histogram Equalization CLAHE MATLAB CODE

  3. My Dissertation Topic Revealed

  4. Design of Triangular Array Microstrip Patch Antenna for 3.6 GHz Wifi Applications using CST

  5. Van de Vusse reaction in an isothermal CSTR Matlab Simulink

  6. Breast Cancer tumor classification from histopathology images Mammogram cancer classification CNN


  1. Adapting a dissertation or thesis into a journal article

    A completed dissertation or thesis is often submitted (with modifications) as a manuscript for publication in a scholarly journal. Thus, the dissertation or

  2. How to write a journal article from a thesis

    Meets academic requirements · Meets journalistic standards · Ensure that your article is within the journal's aim and scope. · Treat your thesis as a separate work

  3. How do I cite my own PhD dissertation in a journal article?

    If the dissertation is "published" then cite it like any other work. Otherwise cite it by name and authors

  4. The basics of converting your PhD thesis into journal articles

    One good way to start publishing articles soon after your PhD is to revisit the material you have gathered during your doctoral research. Unlike


    CONVERT YOUR PHD THESIS INTO JOURNAL ARTICLES. Researchers are under immense pressure to publish. Without publications your career will stagnate and you could

  6. #123: Publishing papers from a PhD thesis

    if you wonder how to convert your thesis into journal papers, whether you're allowed to do this, and what is the best way to do it … read

  7. Extracting a journal article from your thesis

    It is important to publish work post PhD as this makes your research more accessible to others. Read on for top tips.

  8. Previously Published Works in a Dissertation or Thesis

    Most journals provide contact information specifically for this purpose. Contact the journal or publisher and explain that you would like to use

  9. Where To Find Journal Articles For PhD Research: A Beginner's Guide

    Writing a high-quality dissertation or thesis requires the student to review high-quality original papers. Whereas books and grey literature provide useful

  10. How Do I Publish My Dissertation?

    At the end of the doctoral journey, graduates are encouraged to publish their ... Journals are the most common route for publishing dissertation content.