Dissertation Publication

This post continues our series The Smart Scholar by Ramon Goings.

“Why does my article keep getting rejected?”

Over the past month alone I have had at least five conversations with higher education professionals who have sought advice on turning their dissertation into publication. During these conversations I reflected on my experiences when I was working on getting my dissertation work out there and the fact that I made a lot of mistakes. Additionally, having previously served as editor for an academic journal, I witnessed a lot of mistakes authors would make that prevented them from having a high chance of their article being accepted for publication. With that in mind in this article I provide three mistakes to avoid so that you can experience publishing success. 

Cramming All of Your Dissertation Findings into One Publication

As an editor it became easy to see which submissions were taken from the dissertation without adaptation. The giveaway was often that the author attempted to cram all of their findings into one article. While you have worked hard on your dissertation, you must keep in mind that the aim of the article is different. You want to make your focus about one aspect of your dissertation and then center the article on that one particular aspect. 

From my experience coaching individuals through writing for publications I always recommend that you take one of your research questions from the dissertation and build your article around that question. With this approach, you have a singular focus that will guide your writing of all the sections in the article.

Not Taking the Time to Read the Aims & Scope of the Publication

As former editor for the Journal of African American Males in Education the journal has a specific focus on exploring the educational trajectories of African American males. Interestingly, during my editorship, I received a number of submissions that focused on other racial groups. Sadly, I had to reject those articles for publication.

I share this example because as authors it is our responsibility to read the aims and scope of the journal which outlines who the audience of the journal is and what types of articles they accept. Understanding this emphasis before you submit your article will save you time and headache. It can help avoid your article being held under review for weeks only to be rejected without a review because it was inappropriate for the journal.

Not Having External Review Before Submission

In many doctoral programs, students are not always taught explicitly how to write for publication. As a result, I see a lot of articles that have not had the eye of an experienced editor’s review prior to submission. I want you to avoid this mistake and have someone with publishing experience to read over your work before submission. In a way that person would serve as a peer-reviewer to give you feedback prior to submission that, if not changed, would result in your piece being rejected.

Additionally, I certainly understand that not everyone has this network to support you, but consider reaching out to your doctoral faculty or connecting with others on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. There are hundreds of online communities (including the Done Dissertation) where you can get this support.

What have been some strategies that have helped you become successful turning your dissertation into a publication? Share those with me on Twitter!

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.