Revise and Publish Your Dissertation Workshop


This workshop introduces assistant professors in the humanities and qualitative social sciences to the process of revising dissertations for publication as scholarly monographs and as articles in academic journals. The principal differences between the dissertation and the monograph will be explored through a series of readings and practical exercises. Additional topics to be covered include the workings of the peer review process, the differing mandates of university presses and commercial academic publishers, styles of argumentation specific to disciplines, and how to submit revised dissertation chapters to scholarly journals. Ideally, the workshop is offered in four sessions in two time blocks, the first block in the spring, the second in the fall. This allows participants to both prepare a scholarly article and a book proposal and obtain comments and reactions to them from one partner in the workshop and two departmental colleagues over the summer before presenting their work to the group.


Prior to the workshop’s first session, I confer with faculty and administrators on campus to review recent patterns of faculty publication. By assessing strengths and areas for improvement, I can better formulate objectives for the workshop and devise strategies to mesh with initiatives and programs currently in place to mentor faculty. I design each workshop so that participants receive the maximum support—from me and from their institution—to enable them to begin publishing scholarship early in their careers.


The first session introduces the differences between dissertations and scholarly monographs, as well as the basics of the peer review, the process of submitting work to journals and publishers, and the need for understanding the standards for promotion and tenure at one’s home institution. As a first assignment, participants complete a questionnaire about their own dissertations and devise three alternate scenarios for publishing it in whole or in part. They also identify two publishers and two journals that would be appropriate venues for their research. A group meal after the first session provides an opportunity for all of the participants to become acquainted with each other.


In session two, participants discuss options for revisions. The session’s focus is to pinpoint which sections of each dissertation are most valuable and which should be dropped. We then discuss several short readings on negotiating the leap from dissertation to book. I conclude by introducing the elements of a strong book proposal, including the intellectual rationale for a book, its potential readership, and its place in the scholarly literature. Writing a book proposal and transforming one chapter of the dissertation into a journal article of 7,000 words comprise the third assignment. I remain in close contact with participants during the writing process. Participants share these texts with a partner in the group and with two colleagues in their departments. Proposals and drafts of each article are then emailed to me for comment. Prior to the third session, I meet individually with every participant.


In the third and fourth sessions, the group discusses each book proposal and journal article. Partners are asked to offer constructive criticism. I again meet individually with each participant to discuss remaining questions or uncertainties. The workshop concludes with practical information on the protocols of sending out book proposals and journal articles, an overview of current trends and opportunities brought about by the growth of interdisciplinary scholarship and electronic publishing, and suggestions about how to work most effectively with an editor.


After completing the workshop, participants will be required to submit anonymous evaluations, which I then discuss with faculty and administrators before submitting a final report on the workshop. Over the following year the success rate of participants in publishing their work will be tracked to assist in future discussions.