It may seem a Herculean task to pare down a dissertation to the size of a journal manuscript. But that is exactly what must be done if the wider scientific community is to benefit from the fine work that doctoral students often produce. The previous sentence is an important one. The first step in manuscript preparation is believing that you have something of value to write about. Too often, young professionals underestimate the value of their research and other scholarly endeavors, including innovative or insightful clinical practice.
Almost any thoughtfully considered foray into research or unique clinical experience is a story others would want to know about.
Virtually any new thought, new approach, or new perspective in a professional field is publishable, whether it emerged via a formal research study, term paper, speech, case presentation, or experience alone. Career academics learn to value the many varied products of their minds, small and large, singular or collaborative, and they strive to publish anything that might be of interest or value to their varied audiences.
It is highly unlikely that a doctoral dissertation has so little scholarly value that professionals in that field of study would not be interested in reading about it in some published form. The challenge is how to take the behemoth of the dissertation and transform it into a svelte, pithy, and publishable manuscript.
This is not simply a matter of removing enough content to meet the page limits of a given journal. The entire organization and thrust of the manuscript must be reconceptualized. The goals and objectives of a dissertation are quite different from the goals and objectives of a journal article. Dissertations are lengthy for the same reason that legal trials often are lengthy — the writer is providing reams of evidence, i.
Such laborious justification regarding what was or was not done, or considered, in a research project — leaving no conceptual stone unturned — is not expected nor appropriate to journal manuscripts.
Journal reviewers do not need or want the heavy process-focused information that dissertation committees do. Journal reviewers want to see that one is knowledgeable but briefly so about the existing literature in the topic area, that the methods are reasonable and replicable if someone desires to try and that the results support the conclusions. They also want to see that a manuscript offers a contribution to the field, although this contribution can be and typically is very small.
Accomplishing these writing objectives requires far less space than meeting the process objectives of a dissertation. First, however, a method for selecting the most appropriate journal — the publication target — is described. While it is possible to write a manuscript first and then to seek an appropriate publication outlet, it is preferable to select the targeted publication beforehand, because the style and parameters of the chosen publication should guide the approach to writing.
The first step in selecting a journal where to submit a manuscript is to consider as many fields of study that might pertain to the planned article. Do not worry at this point about the main focus of the manuscript and what field of study that it pertains to. Think broadly at this stage; the journal choices can be narrowed at a later time.
For example, my field of study happens to be deaf individuals. I can always inform my colleagues in the small deafness field to an article that I have published elsewhere. Informing and motivating a broader audience to find something that I have published in an obscure deaf journal is a lot more difficult.
If making a list of fields of study that overlap with the manuscript content seems difficult, the following exercise might help. Pretend that the dissertation or other work product is going to be made into a newspaper story from the s. Steamship Carpathia Rescues Hundreds Roles of Saved and Missing Printing numerous headlines stimulated a wider variety of people to buy the newspaper.
Similarly, the headlines that could be written about the dissertation or other work product will suggest different types of readers, and therefore journals, to consider. This should not take long at all. The reference list from the dissertation or thesis may provide clues to journals that publish in these topic areas.
Now, there should be a list of around 10 or 15 journals under consideration. Next, again using advice from librarians, on-line resources, or colleagues, list some of the major characteristics of each of these journals.
Characteristics to consider include: Competitiveness is a very important characteristic in making the decision about which journal to target the manuscript. Librarians or journal editors themselves will readily provide you with these competitiveness indicators.
For example, the American Psychological Association APA publishes an annual report containing most of this information regarding the journals it publishes, usually in the August archival issue of the American Psychologist. Data from 28 APA journals were presented in the most recent report 1. None of the above journal characteristics are necessarily good or bad.
Their importance is in matching the manuscript optimally to the goals and characteristics of the journal. Many times, I write manuscripts that would not be appropriate for a highly competitive or widely distributed journal.
For example, I once gave a speech that I thought was unique and deserved to be in print. I chose a journal with limited circulation, one that was not very competitive but was happy to receive my submission. Now, I frequently distribute copies of that article and it is another peer-reviewed publication on my resume.
Now it is time to narrow down the list of potential journals by comparing their characteristics to those of the dissertation or other existing or hypothesized work product. This is a multi-step process. To begin, consider the ultimate goal in publishing the manuscript. Then, focus on journals that are geared toward clinicians and be prepared to write a short article, as clinicians are busy people. Is it to inform a particular group e.
Then, focus on journals that are commonly read by those audiences. Is the content applicable to a wide audience? Then focus on journals that are generalized, not specialty journals, and journals that have wide circulation. However, these are often among the most competitive journals.
Alternately, a very specialized topic may demand a specialized journal. Is the goal to introduce an audience to a topic that they would not normally think or care about? Then, consider publishing in a journal geared toward audiences who are interested in the general topic of the manuscript e. Is the goal simply to get something into print that is worthwhile but not particularly sophisticated or influential, rather than never publish it at all?
That is a fine goal; a less competitive journal may be a wise choice in that situation. Compare the list of journal characteristics to these and other such questions, noting in each case whether a given journal on the list seems to be advantageous, disadvantageous, or neutral.
This process should narrow down the list of journals by at least half, leaving you with no more than 5 — 7 journals still under consideration. Some journals publish this in each issue, others only once per year. Most journals will have this document on their website. Study that page for additional information that can further narrow the list of journal options. The instructions page may contain lists of topics that are welcomed or discouraged, information on page limits, and descriptions of the different types of manuscripts it welcomes e.
Some journals have several sections, each one devoted to a different type of manuscript. Do not limit the conceptualization of journal-worthy publications to full-fledged research studies.
There are many types of articles that journals welcome. Certainly, there is a style that will match any fresh idea or experience one would like to impart, no matter how much that idea or experience differs from a conventional research study. After considering the above factors as they relate to the dissertation or intended manuscript, narrow down the journal options to three or fewer.
If the final choice is not obvious by now, it may be helpful to contact the journal editor to discuss the nature of the intended submission and whether or not the editor thinks it is appropriate for the publication.
Editors are proud of their journals and, in some sense, are like talent scouts in that they are always on the lookout for appropriate, quality submissions, especially from new authors. Most will give generously of their time and advise or guide in this matter. Send the editor a brief e-mail describing the essential features of the proposed manuscript i.
This is a more neutral approach than attaching a copy of the manuscript and asking or implying that the editor should review the entire article. This brief e-mail is simply seeking a quick opinion on whether a manuscript such as the one planned or actually completed would be welcome for review.
If that particular journal does not seem appropriate, the editor may advise on how to alter the manuscript so that it would be more appropriate or give advice on alternative publication outlets that would be more appropriate. After a final decision has been made on the most appropriate journal for submission, ensure that the manuscript conforms to the characteristics, style, and preferences of the chosen journal.
Also, follow exactly the instructions given to potential authors. The following method has proven valuable in helping writers pare down their dissertations to manageable size, yielding a manuscript that reflects the most essential elements of the dissertation but also complements the characteristics, style, and preferences of the journal that was chosen as the preferred publication outlet.
Finally, the remaining bullet points are organized according to a functional outline of the manuscript. The manuscript first begins to take shape through compiling a list of several dozen or so bullet points, each one identifying a fact, issue, finding, or other detail that must be written about.
These bullet points are chosen and organized in a fashion that will allow the manuscript to flow smoothly and logically for the intended reader. It is imperative to understand that the manuscript is not being written for yourself nor for a dissertation committee nor even for the journal editor. The manuscript is being written for the average reader of the chosen journal. Do not begin this exercise until carefully considering what this average reader is like and, in particular, what they need to know and do not need to know e.
This image of the average reader should emerge readily from the previous investigation into the characteristics of the journal selected for the submission. For example, when writing for a deafness-related journal, I do not need to plan on a bullet point explaining how the linguistic structure of American Sign Language ASL differs markedly from English.
When writing for a journal outside of the deafness field, I may well need to include such a bullet point in order for later topics in the manuscript to make sense. To create bullet points, read through the dissertation or other starting material and list as a bullet point each of the issues, topics, or findings written about, one-by-one, from start to finish. Commonly, each bullet point will capture the essence of an entire paragraph or more of text.
The content of a bullet point should never be repeated. Try to limit each bullet point to a dozen or so words. Do not bother listing any issues, topics, or findings that will not be included in the manuscript being written.
Working from a dissertation, one may end up with a list of or more bullet points. Here are a few examples of bullet points that emerged from the dissertation of one of my mentees. After generating the bullet point list or, better yet, during that process, apply the following three tests to each bullet point to determine if it truly is essential to the manuscript or whether it can be eliminated. Be very conservative here; the goal is to eliminate as many bullet points as possible, perhaps up to half of the bullet points that the dissertation generated.
However, save this longer bullet point list, in case at a later time it is decided to add a point back in or if a reviewer asks to explain something further. Remember to think of the average reader of this particular journal when applying this test. Ideally, the final list will have no more than 40 bullet points. Writers who are beginning from scratch, not from existing material like a dissertation, obviously would skip the above step of creating and then winnowing bullet points based upon a pre-existing work.
Whether starting from a pre-existing document or from scratch, the following functional outline is next used to organize and further modify the list of bullet points in preparation for writing. Below are the elements of a functional outline for a typical research manuscript, such as one being developed from a dissertation.
The writing of a full dissertation evolves both from your research progress and feedback from a supervisor. Pay attention to recommended chapter lengths and the value that each chapter has. As you complete each section, be sure to go back to previously written sections.
Pay attention to details, but also the big picture. Ask yourself if there are any discrepancies between the information in different sections and whether any points need to be better aligned. In this guide, we will cover the components of a great dissertation, and then how to produce them. Ultius has also put together a helpful infographic detailing the 10 best practices for writing your dissertation as well.
A dissertation abstract acts as a preview to the main components of your larger dissertation. Most dissertations include an original experiment or study, the abstract will also need to include a summary of its details. The abstract must be persuasive and solid enough to convince an academic committee that the complete dissertation is worthwhile.
The average abstract is approximately words. This equates to about a page and half of double-spaced text. However, some academic programs require your dissertation abstract to be slightly longer. Be prepared to write up to two single-spaced pages.
While your abstract serves as overview of your dissertation, it is not the same as an introduction. The abstract needs to include at least one sentence for each section within the dissertation. You need at least a one sentence summary for each section. In terms of what information to put at the beginning of the abstract versus the middle and the end, this image represents a typical structure:. When you write the summary describing your study, you should move beyond what your study has done or what it will do.
Instead, you should provide details on what your study has uncovered or what you hope it will uncover. An introduction should give the reader cause to invest in the dissertation research question. The content needs to give the reader a thorough overview of what to expect within the full dissertation. Once the rest of the sections are complete, then the introduction is written.
The original outline is often revised as changes are made to the complete dissertation. Map out an outline that summarizes the content you anticipate writing about in your subsequent sections.
Include a statement about the research problem, your thesis statement, and a summary of each of the sections included in the dissertation. Include a few concrete examples, such as the results of your study. The introduction is your chance to spark interest in your dissertation and your research study.
Use language and phrases that resemble storytelling. Good stories are built with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Stories also use imagery and descriptive language and also reveal insights in original ways. If there are any implications beyond the academic community, be sure to substantiate these as well. Remember your audience needs a reason to keep reading.
Also, do not try to include every piece of information in your dissertation, but rather the most prominent and interesting points. The language you use should be inviting and accessible. This means that both an academic and relatively non-academic audience can comprehend it. A literature review for a dissertation requires an advanced set of analytical skills in comparison to a regular literature review.
In order to be accepted by the committee, dissertations must contain a literature review that is well-written, and reflects solid critical thinking and data collection skills.
Keep in mind what your dissertation is seeking to accomplish. The literature review will not only need to substantiate your knowledge about your topic, but provide complete justification for your dissertation thesis, methodology, results, discussion and analysis. A dissertation literature review takes on six different characteristics. Within each of those six characteristics are various angles you can take. In general, there are five main milestones you should be cognizant of as you go through the process:.
The sciences often call upon dissertation writers to use a hypothesis in lieu of a thesis statement. The hypothesis section of a dissertation is typically required of certain academic disciplines. A hypothesis section lets readers know what you believe the data from your study will reveal as the answer to your research question. In most cases, you are also required to state the null hypothesis , which typically reflects the direct opposite of the hypothesis. A hypothesis has to reveal a collective pattern or answer.
A hypothesis also has to be something that can be tested. If the results and conclusions do not seem logical or sound to you, make note. You can also make note of results and conclusions that raised questions for you in terms of whether they ignored a critical aspect or indicated additional research was needed. You may need to continue to refine the first drafts of your hypothesis in order to accomplish these objectives.
Out of all the sections of a dissertation, the methodology is critical to its acceptance. The research in your methodology needs to be well-thought out, logical, and stand out as the optimal way to investigate your research question.
This helps validate the legitimacy of your methodology and allows future researchers to be able to critically evaluate your methods. What are the weaknesses of your proposed approach compared to the strengths of the other available approaches? Will your proposed approach yield the best possible data to help you arrive at a solid conclusion to your research question? Is your method realistic and feasible?
A single research study cannot cover every gap, and in fact many research studies discover previously unknown gaps. If the results backed up your thesis, you should also be able to explain how your results might have been produced assuming your thesis is incorrect.
Also acknowledge any exclusions or limitations, while stating how your topic can be researched further. A dissertation discussion needs to match up with the methodology section, in the sense that each result should have a corresponding method.
Your results need to stem from the techniques identified within the methodology. While most readers will reasonably assume that all personal biases are impossible to eliminate, the content and tone of your discussion should reassure them that you have conducted a relatively neutral analysis.
The results of a research study are otherwise included in the dissertation discussion section. A separate results section only presents the data and results gathered from the research study. Any discussion and interpretation of the results should be saved for the discussion section. Separate positive from negative results and your main findings from your secondary findings. You may find that you are unfamiliar with the best analysis method for your study.
Spend time researching what statistical analysis methods exist, including their advantages and disadvantages. In the results section, you should plan on sticking to the details of the data. Give the readers enough detail and explanation to reasonably understand the data, as well as the statistical analysis method. In some cases, you may be designing your own equation. With a quantitative study, your data results will consist of equations, numerical results, and numerical analysis.
However, a purely qualitative analysis will be lacking these types of numerical results. This applies to both your method and the results. You can still leverage charts and graphs with qualitative results in order to facilitate understanding.
The dissertation conclusion is designed to remind readers of the major points of your dissertation. Prior to writing the conclusion, check with your academic advisor for clarification on what to include.
In general, you should avoid introducing concepts or material in the same way that you discussed them in previous sections. Although the conclusion looks back on what the dissertation has discussed, the overall perspective should be forward looking. Dissertation conclusion sections typically do not go over four to five pages. The recommended order and importance of each point are as follows:.
Depending upon the academic field, these recommendations may be geared towards future research or field practitioners. In some cases, you may be providing both sets of recommendations.
Academic fields such as business administration tend to be geared more towards recommendations for practitioners, but does not necessarily ignore the theoretical side. When writing recommendations for practitioners, think of yourself as a consultant.
Remember that your conclusion is the final opportunity to remind your readers why your research study stands out from the crowd. A good conclusion relates back to the main research question you posed in the beginning, as well as your thesis statement or hypothesis.
Putting a dissertation together can seem intimidating. Complete dissertations contain a multitude of sections, or chapters. Full dissertations are usually written at the PhD level and the average length can range between one-hundred to two-hundred pages.
Dissertation chapters go through several revisions while the candidate works on each piece with an academic supervisor. Before you write the abstract, you should have a good idea and solid outline of what you want to research.
Be prepared to run through several revisions, depending on feedback from your academic committee, academic supervisor, or as changes occur to other portions of the dissertation. Briefly state what your general topic is about and give some background information on it. Depending on the academic discipline, the thesis could be stated in the form of a hypothesis.
In general, your thesis should be one sentence and state what results you believe to be true and why. Provide a brief analysis of the data and relate the results back to your thesis.
Writing the introduction for a dissertation is far more intensive than that of a typical essay or research paper. With a dissertation, save the final draft of the introduction for last. This way you can pull out the most important pieces of information from each section of the dissertation. Define your main research problem or question.
You need to be succinct, but also provide enough background on the problem or question to allow your audience to grasp the subject matter.
Include a summary of your actual research study, including the data results. You will also want to include a summary of your literature review or at least a few citations from the literature that are a good representation of the existing research on your topic. Remember to not rely too heavily on citations, but to be strategic about which ones you use and how you use them. Include information on whether the data results supported or disproved your thesis, as well as whether the results raised additional questions.
Were there any restrictions to the study that might have impacted the results? For example, are you going to be looking at the theoretical or practical side?
Are you going to be looking for common ground and patterns, or take on the role of critic and sort through what is feasible in practice and what is not?
Finally, Decide what information and analysis to include in your writing, and what to omit. First, decide what your objective is in order to determine the problem the literature review will address.
To critically evaluate the role of the electoral college in the national presidential election. Your chosen scope will come into play during this stage. On the other hand, if you choose a narrowed focus, you could spend the same amount of time trying to find sources that fit your criteria.
Beyond searching for sources through electronic databases, remember to consult your peers and academic advisors. Also, see if you can locate the sources cited in some of the references you initially find.
Determine what to take and what will best serve the purpose of the review, going back to your objective and problem.
For this example, a historical structure would be appropriate as you could start with the earliest examples and work your way through to the present.
Your point of view is taking the perspective of one side, so in this case it would also be appropriate to cite information that takes the other side of the argument and then critically evaluate the validity of that information. You would likely need to discredit the validity by citing opposing evidence.
You can analyze the information using quantitative methods, qualitative methods, or a mixture of both. This stage involves revising the information, including what is kept intact, and what is tweaked, reduced and eliminated. Peer reviews and field experts can be an invaluable resource during this stage, especially prior to submitting the review to an academic committee.
You may need multiple revisions once the academic committee or dissertation supervisor reviews your work. Do not be discouraged by the revision process, as the supervisor and committee are there to help refine your dissertation to increase its chances of becoming publishable material. After you finish your literature review, look at the notes you made about the information. What unfulfilled question appears to be the most promising in terms of testability?
A restricted diet of 1, to 1, calories per day leads to a simultaneous decrease in body fat percentage, overall weight, and muscle weight percentages. A restricted diet of 1, to 1, calories per day does not lead to a simultaneous decrease in body fat percentage, overall weight, and muscle weight percentages.
Is your question going to be making a prediction, describing an observation, or describing a pattern? This will determine how you write the hypothesis and shape it. The independent variable can best be identified by isolating what factor is causing a difference, or what factor represents a polar-opposite difference. Be sure to sync your hypothesis with your methodology covered below.
It might also make sense to have access to participants who currently have an unhealthy or high percentage of body fat. The next section should explain how the data was collected and how the data was analyzed. Be sure to also give a description of your technique. Explain why your data is reliable and others can trust its accuracy. Also, explain the reasoning behind limitations to your sample size and analysis.
An example would be why only one type of demographic was surveyed. Think about how you want to organize your discussion into various sections, either by the eight points of discussion mentioned previously in this guide or by combining some of those points into larger chunks. Also, determine what results you will present in graphs and charts.
Will those be inserted into the body of the discussion or be included in the appendices? Be sure to evaluate the meaning of your results and discuss whether those meanings are significant. The second set of sections should discuss whether personal or outside biases impacted the results. While you should work to mitigate these biases, acknowledge any suspicion of them.
Spend time showing your reader why your results are relevant, and why and how the results could impact the field. A discussion of the limitations should state the limitation s in terms of the methodology or approach, followed by an explanation of how the methodology or approach could be expanded. Did your results bring up any questions the results themselves were unable to answer? Discuss those questions here and also suggest that these questions could be developed into future research studies.
Alternatively, did your results indicate the need for a follow-up study? If so, briefly discuss what that follow-up study will need to entail. The conclusion should instill the main idea you want your readers to take away from your study. You should discuss your dissertation structure and content with an academic advisor or supervisory committee. Samples of written dissertation discussions can also help immensely, since samples demonstrate structure, content and tone.
Also, by presenting your main findings before your secondary findings, your readers can get a better sense of what they can take away from your research. The main findings should not only be more prevalent in terms of recurrence, but also significance. Secondary findings will not necessarily make as much of an impact as your main findings, but are either worth mentioning or raise questions about the need for additional research. The roadmap you provide to your readers should be contained within the first paragraph of the results section.
Tell readers exactly what they can expect to read. Ideally, the roadmap will consist of one paragraph and provide readers with a complete outline of your results section. The data results you captured that reflect on your study in a positive way can be the beginning of your second paragraph. Your primary results in the positive category should go first. If you are presenting visual aids in the appendices, make sure you refer to them in the paragraph.
The data results that retract from your study will need to be presented in a similar fashion. The best way to determine what is primary versus what is secondary is to ask whether the results tie in with your research question. Do the results provide an answer to the research question? The main point to remember is not to confuse the results section with the discussion section, if they need to be separate.
Pull out the main points of each section, revisit your thesis, look for weaknesses you can strengthen, and think about your recommendations and how your research is different from others. Think about why your research and its results matter, not only to you and your academic discipline, but to the community at large.
In other words, how does it make a difference? The first part of the conclusion section needs to review the most significant information from each section of the dissertation.
How will this data have an effect? What do you believe that effect will be? Were they what you expected and why? Do the results prove an idea that was previously unproven or thought of as unlikely? Think about these questions when in the final writing stage, or editing stage of your dissertation.
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