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Making the Most of Your Thesis or Dissertation



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Making the Most of Your Thesis or Dissertation Publication Strategies for Graduate Students and Recent Graduates in Evaluation and the Social Sciences Chris L S Coryn Ph D Interdisciplinary Ph D Program in Evaluation Agenda Brief presentation Discussion and question session NOTE For those interested in more about this topic there is a multi paper session at this year s AEA conference including presentations by myself converting a dissertation to a book as well as the editors of New Directions for Evaluation American Journal of Evaluation and Evaluation and Program Planning on November 10th Aims and Objectives The purpose of this Caf is to provide useful information and strategies to graduate students and recent graduates on publishing their work including How to plan in advance for converting a dissertation or thesis into a publishable journal or book manuscript Getting it published And most importantly getting it and you noticed It is NOT a step by step guide merely some practical advice to get you started Some Important Facts Nearly 90 of papers published in academic journals are never cited Approximately 50 are never even read by anyone other than their authors their referees and the journal editors Historically nearly 50 of Nobel laureates prize winning works were originally rejected Why Publish So why is this important If you intend to pursue a career in academia publications are one of your greatest assets so start now If your work is important you need to communicate it dissemination Publishing is a good mechanism for starting a career in evaluation and or the social sciences In some cases your job depends on it CREDIBILITY Getting Started First things first 1 A thesis and or dissertation is a COLLABORATIVE effort one between the student and her his advisor s 2 MUST interest you and your advisor this is a long term commitment 3 SHOULD be of interest to others does the work Respond to or provide a potential solution to a longstanding or emerging problem or issue Contribute to or advance current knowledge theory or practice Identifying a Topic Common stages HAVING and THINKING about an idea DISCUSSING the idea with others preferably experts or persons knowledgeable about the subject area CHECKING the existing scientific literature to see if it makes sense e g relevant doable has been done DECIDING exactly what goals and objectives are to be achieved DEFINING questions more precisely to formulate hypotheses if appropriate Next Steps Your thesis or dissertation prospectus has been approved and you are hard at work now what DO get to know personally if possible the leaders key figures in the topic area field of study don t rely only on your advisor Potentially one of your greatest assets Do they believe the work is important Often they can draw more attention to your work than you alone Next Next Steps DO begin considering where your work is most relevant i e what publication outlet BEFORE the thesis or dissertation is complete DO get to know the editors of journals or acquisitions editors of publishers you are considering e g introduce yourself and your work via e mail in person at conferences through work samples They should know WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU ARE DOING Next Next Steps DO review books and or referee papers for your targeted journal can be a good strategy to get you in DON T wait to begin preparing your manuscript start DURING the writing of your thesis of dissertation DON T underestimate your committee they are or should be known by others in the field Journal Publication Typical elements of submission Cover letter Take this seriously as it can have an immediate influence on a journal editor s reaction to your manuscript The manuscript Check double check triple check and if possible have someone else check e g errors grammar syntax voice tone style Follow the journal s guidelines carefully e g formatting reference citation style blinding paper or electronic submission Journal Publication Interim correspondence Don t pressure editors if the review process seems overly long for some journals can be up to 6 months or longer Decision Usually a letter from the editor summarizing reviewers decisions comments reviewers evaluations Accept ideal scenario Revise and resubmit most frequent decision Reject don t panic Journal Publication Reorganizing after rejection Study editor and reviewers evaluation carefully Learn from it and use it often reviewers comments can help improve the quality of your manuscript Start over Did you target the right journal Remember peer review is the quality control system of science the tyranny of small numbers e g typically 2 3 reviewers were their judgments accurate AND reviewers are selected by editors i e non random Book Publication Unless a publisher directly solicits you to write a book manuscript this can require dramatically reorganizing or completely rewriting a thesis or dissertation Usually a thesis or dissertation is too narrow in scope to be EASILY reorganized into a book A single study is not adequate for a book in MOST publisher s minds Publishers are in the business to make MONEY if they don t know you or your work it is likely that they will not even look at a prospectus NETWORK Book Publication The typical elements of a book prospectus Author qualifications and authority on the subject matter Substantive focus Intended audiences Unique characteristics Comparison to existing related texts Proposed outline i e chapters Sample chapter


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