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  • Publication Process

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:


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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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How to write a thesis statement, what is a thesis statement.

Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.

Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.

How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?

Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned

Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.

Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”

The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.

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How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned

Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:

Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.

Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.

You start out with a thesis statement like this:

Sugar consumption.

This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.

Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.

You change your thesis to look like this:

Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.

This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.

Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.

You revise your thesis statement to look like this:

More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.

This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.

Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:

Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.

This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.

Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:

Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.

Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.

How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..

Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:

There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.

This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.

Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.

This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.

2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.

Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:

My family is an extended family.

This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.

While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.

This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.

3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:

Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.

This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:

Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.

This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .

4. A strong thesis statement is specific.

A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:

World hunger has many causes and effects.

This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:

Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.

This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.

Produced by Writing Tutorial Services, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Enago Academy

How to Turn Your Thesis Into a Journal Article

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In many cases, publishing thesis is often one of the requirements for graduate students to finish their academic program. Publishing research findings is one of the more important ways to share research data with the scientific community. However, the structure of it is different from that of a research article. In this article, we shall discuss how to turn your thesis to journal article.

Characteristics of a Thesis and a Journal Article

Differences between a thesis and a journal article.

While both contain similar sections, you cannot simply publish your thesis research as a journal article. Converting it into a journal article has many steps. It is important to recognize that an article is much shorter than the thesis. However, turning your thesis into a journal article will not be a simple matter of copy and paste. You will need to use the data in your thesis as the starting point for writing your article.

Related: Planning to publish your Ph.D. research in a good journal? Check these journal selection guidelines now!

The  many differences  between a thesis research and a journal article are as follows:

Turning Thesis Research to Journal Article

As a researcher, you need to publish your work to advance your career and make contributions to the research field. Now that the differences have been outlined, how do you actually write one?

1. Identify a Suitable Journal

You could start by  journal selection . Look at your reference list. Chances are at least some of the papers you read were published in journals whose scope would match your work. Selecting a journal also allows you to tailor the paper to the specific requirements of that journal. Ensure that your research article coincides with the aim and scope of the journal. Understand the journal’s guidelines, recommended manuscript structure, and reference style

2. Reduce Redundant Length of Your Thesis

An important aspect of turning your thesis research to journal article is focusing on the word count without deleting crucial information. In order reduce word count , extract the data that answers just one research question. This should result in a more focused information than your thesis research presented. Discuss results in context with your problem statement-that is the focus of your paper. Good language and structure are crucial – your paper may get rejected even though it contains valuable data if it is difficult to understand. Use your data to  tell a coherent story  and avoid sweeping conclusions your data cannot support. Ensure that your title matches the contents of your paper. Paraphrase the content without changing the meaning.

3. Modify Introduction as Abstract

Repurpose the introduction as an abstract by shortening your thesis introduction to 100-150 words. Remember to maintain key points of the introduction to hold the reader’s attention. Formulate the introduction and discussion of thesis as basis for the journal article’s abstract. Furthermore, consider combining multiple research questions or focus on just one for the journal article.

4. Focus on Relevant and Selective Information

Since the discussion, methods and methodology, and results section of your thesis is an in-detail explanation of your research, these sections must be kept short while writing in a journal article.  Familiarize yourself with the target journal’s standards by referring previously published papers and understanding their format. Most importantly, provide interpretation of main findings in the results section in concise statements or tabular formats. Avoid repeating your results in the discussion section. However, discuss how your findings expand and support previous perspectives of the research. Finally, mention how future studies can build upon your work and address limitations in your study.

5. Limit the Number of References

As your thesis is a work of several years put together, it involves numerous literature reviewing. However, while turning your thesis to journal article, you must include only limited references that are relevant to the research question addressed in the journal article. Focus on using most recent references. Consider using reference management tools such as Zotero, Mendeley, Quiqqa, etc. to make the referencing process easier and efficient.

It is an academic requirement that you publish your data for the benefit of the scientific community. Considering that the structure of journal article is different from the structure of a thesis, turning a thesis to journal article must be done following logical steps as mentioned above.

Did you ever have to convert your thesis to journal article? How did you plan it? What strategies did you use while reducing the word count of your thesis? Let us know in the comments section below! You can also visit our  Q&A forum  for frequently asked questions related to different aspects of research writing and publishing answered by our team that comprises subject-matter experts, eminent researchers, and publication experts.

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I was Searching For This From So Many days. Thank you for Sharing

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Thanks! Glad you liked it.

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Are we also going to talk Code of Conduct in Research, as authorship is part of the conduct (ethics)?

Regards, Elvia

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I guess you are referring to our upcoming webinar on Assigning Authorship & Contributorship | Tips for Researchers. We will be discussing the ethical dilemmas in authorship during the session.

We would request you to register and attend the webinar for additional insights on this topic.

Meanwhile, we would recommend you to share your queries with us on our FREE Q&A forum . In addition, you may download our FREE mobile app to stay updated on the latest resources in research writing and academic publishing.

What about the Topic? we need to rephrase the topic or keep it same with Thesis topic?

Hi Shahid, Thank you for your question. Your thesis topic would be a cumulative title for all the chapters described in your thesis. When you publish your thesis as a journal article, every chapter would be published as an individual article in most cases. You may or may not use the same title that you have used for that particular chapter in the thesis. Your thesis would have chapter names that are more suited to the overall objective of your thesis. On the other hand, your manuscript should ideally have a catchy and search-optimized title highlighting a general perspective. It may not be the same as your thesis title. However, if your thesis chapter title meets the requirement of the manuscript you intend to publish, you can go ahead with the same.

You could also go through our articles on writing good research paper titles:

Did you get a chance to install our FREE mobile app . Make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter: .

Hi Dr. Durga, Amazing article and I am sure it will surely help the writers to write more carefully and also plagiarised free.

Greeting from Enago Academy! Thank you for your positive comment. We are glad to know that you found our resources useful. Your feedback is very valuable to us. Happy reading!

i just read the article and also the comments section it’s so helpful. thank you so much for sharing it.. good work!

Thanks a lot for this informational blog which surely going to help the students pursuing the Phd. Nowdays due to assignment burden students started taking the help of professional academic experts. There are many writing services.

Thank you for the very useful article. I will definitely look into it.

Writing a book: needed advice and help at one point. I found enago academy in my search of Answers. You were a Great Help! I hope to use your services again, if I am stuck on correct writing principles! Thank You for being here. K.R. Plante

This helped me a lot; thank you for this informative article.

Thanks for writing such an informative blog which will surely be a great help for the students as well as the institutions

Great article! One question…. should I cite the thesis in the paper? If so, how do I do that efficiently since it would be all over the place?

good, insightful piece of text.

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Submit and publish your thesis.

Turning Your Thesis into an Article

Creating an article from your thesis means more than just copying and pasting. The audience for the thesis is your committee whereas for an article it may be fellow researchers, professionals working in the field, policy makers, educators, or the general audience. Your article manuscript will need to be modified accordingly. This section is based on Extracting a journal article from your thesis from Taylor & Francis publishing tips for authors.

Plan the article

Identify the central message that you want to get across. This could be a new theory, novel methodology or original findings. Make sure that your article follows a coherent argument and targets the journal audience.

Decide on the kind of article you want to write - will it be a report, position paper, critique or review? What makes your argument or research interesting? How might it add value to the field?

Select a journal

Selecting the right journal means reaching the audience you intend for your article to speak to. To start identifying potential journals:

Automatic journal finders can recommend a journal based on your manuscript title/abstract:

To further narrow down the list:

Is it a trusted journal or publisher?

How to identify a deceptive publisher? See the Deceptive Publishing Checklist created by U of T.

Identifying deceptive publishers - a checklist.

Write the article

You may choose to approach writing your thesis with an aim to publish it as an article or several articles, known as an integrated/publication-based/sandwich thesis. Alternatively, you can reformat and convert your completed thesis into an article to fit the scope and style of a journal article. In both cases it will be helpful to:

Additional resources on converting your thesis into an article:

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