How do I get my thesis published?

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The professional academic culmination of a thesis is to get it published in a relevant journal in your field. Making this final step to publication, however, can be challenging, even though most of the work has already been done. Start planning early for possible thesis publication, so you can get a head start and are more likely to follow it through. Basically, the steps involved are:

  1. Consult with your supervisor. Discuss and develop a publication plan for your thesis with your supervisor. The challenge for publication purposes is to identify a target publication source, clarify and refine the focus of the study, and address key examiner critiques.
  2. Examiner comments. Summarise the examiner suggestions for improvement and how each of them can be addressed in a revised manuscript. Discuss and seek supervisor input and agreement about what modifications are going to be made prior to submission.
  3. Authorship. As the thesis is primarily the students' work, the student should generally become the first author and the supervisor(s) and any other significant collaborators are subsequent authors. In cases where the supervisor is the one who takes the initiative and lead in publishing and the student does little additional work, the supervisor may become the first author.
  4. Identify possible journals. Discuss possible peer-reviewed scholarly journals with your supervisor. It is recommended that you develop a list of about three to five possible journals to target, and rank in order of priority. Don't necessarily target the highest-ranking journal - be realistic about which journal to target. Review each journal's website, scope, author guidelines, copyright/licensing/payment details, and journal ranking. Places to search:
    1. List of psychology journals (Wikipedia)
    2. Journal rankings on psychology (Smimago Journal Rankings)
    4. Which journals were the key articles you cited published in?
  5. Author guidelines. Review the target journal's guidelines for authors. Get hold of recent and related articles from the target journals to get a feel for the length and style of articles the journal is publishing. It is critical to get the right 'feel' of the journal to help guide your writing and formatting. Check to see whether any of the journals are planning a special issue which is related to your topic.
  6. Refine the purpose, if necessary, for the target journal. Look over the manuscript and try to work out how well it fits with the target journal. Is it necessary to revise the scope and focus in order to better address the journal requirements?
  7. First draft. Once the target journal is agreed amongst the authors, the first author should develop a first draft, based on addressing examiner feedback and target journal requirements in terms of scope and style/formatting. When you have a good first draft, take this to the second author and ask them to read over and make comments and changes.
  8. Redrafting. The more redrafting the better. It is always tempting to send off an article before it is really mature. Avoid this temptation by always doing just one more draft before sending it off - it might make the difference between initial acceptance and rejection. In redrafting, pay very close attention to correct formatting - this is often critical for journal article submissions.
  9. Cover letter. Draft a cover letter to the journal editor to go with the article - this is an important component and is kind of like putting a suit on for an interview - a well-written cover letter can make a significant difference to how the article will be received. Then send it off! Note that you can only sent your article to one journal at a time.
  10. Initial response from the editor. The journal editor should acknowledge receipt of your article and reasonably quickly indicate whether the article is to be sent out for review or be rejected. If the editor decides to have the article reviewed, this will often take two to three months. Acceptance rates vary between journals. It is extremely rare, however, that an article is accepted without need for some changes. If the article is rejected, read the feedback carefully, make appropriate changes and send the article off to the second journal on your target list.
  11. Resubmission. Having had your article provisionally accepted by a journal, it is now "in-press". Carefully go through the reviewers' comments and make appropriate changes. This should be done in consultation with your co-authors. Write a letter to the journal editor summarising how you addressed or responded to each of the reviewers' comments. This new version may be accepted by the journal editor or be sent out for review again and you may receive further feedback for minor changes.
  12. Proofs. When the article has been typeset for publication, you should receive a penultimate copy from the editor. You need to carefully examine the proof for any small errors and inform the editor.
  13. Publication! Eventually, your article will be published! Authors will usually receive complimentary copies of the journal article. Celebrate with your co-authors! Announce the publication of your article. Add it to your CV.
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