dissertation article journal

  • Publication Process

How to Write a Journal Article from a Thesis

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You are almost done with your PhD thesis and want to convert it into a journal article. Or, you’re initiating a career as a journal writer and intend to use your thesis as a starting point for an article. Whatever your situation, turning a thesis into a journal article is a logical step and a process that eventually every researcher completes. But…how to start?

The first thing to know about converting a thesis into a journal article is how different they are:

Thesis Characteristics:

  • Meets academic requirements
  • Reviewed by select committee members
  • Contains chapters
  • Lengthy, no word limits
  • Table of contents
  • Lengthy research of literature
  • IRB approval described in detail
  • Description and copies of tools used
  • All findings presented
  • Verb tenses may vary

Journal Article Characteristics:

  • Meets journalistic standards
  • Reviewed by a panel of “blind” reviewers
  • Word limits
  • Manuscript format
  • Succinct research of literature
  • IRB described in 1 to 3 sentences
  • Essential and succinct tool information
  • Selected findings presented
  • Verb tenses are fairly consistent

Converting your thesis to a journal article may be complex, but it’s not impossible.

A thesis is a document of academic nature, so it’s more detailed in content. A journal article, however, is shorter, highlighting key points in a more succinct format. Adapting a thesis for conversion into a journal article is a time-consuming and intricate process that can take you away from other important work. In that case, Elsevier’s Language Editing services may help you focus on important matters and provide a high-quality text for submission in no time at all.

If you are going to convert a thesis into a journal article, with or without professional help, here is a list of some of the steps you will likely have to go through:

1. Identify the best journal for your work

  • Ensure that your article is within the journal’s aim and scope. How to find the right journal? Find out more .
  • Check the journal’s recommended structure and reference style

2. Shorten the length of your thesis

  • Treat your thesis as a separate work
  • Paraphrase but do not distort meaning
  • Select and repurpose parts of your thesis

3. Reformat the introduction as an abstract

  • Shorten the introduction to 100-150 words, but maintain key topics to hold the reader’s attention.
  • Use the introduction and discussion as basis for the abstract

4. Modify the introduction

  • If your thesis has more than one research question or hypothesis, which are not all relevant for your paper, consider combining your research questions or focusing on just one for the article
  • Use previously published papers (at least three) from the target journal as examples

5. Tighten the methods section

  • Keep the discussion about your research approach short

6. Report main findings in the results

  • Expose your main findings in the results section in concise statements

7. Discussion must be clear and concise

  • Begin by providing an interpretation of your results: “What is it that we have learned from your research?”
  • Situate the findings to the literature
  • Discuss how your findings expand known or previous perspectives
  • Briefly present ways in which future studies can build upon your work and address limitations in your study

8. Limit the number of references

  • To choose the most relevant and recent
  • To format them correctly
  • Consider using a reference manager system (e.g. Mendeley ) to make your life easier

If you are not a proficient English speaker, the task of converting a thesis into a journal article might make it even more difficult. At Elsevier’s Language Editing services we ensure that your manuscript is written in correct scientific English before submission. Our professional proofers and editors check your manuscript in detail, taking your text as our own and with the guarantee of maximum text quality.

Language editing services by Elsevier Author Services:


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How to Convert Your Dissertation into a Journal Article

Adapting your thesis into a shorter article.

dissertation article journal

Converting your dissertation into a shorter academic article in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal is a daunting task that is rarely addressed in the realm of academia. 

Many junior academics face challenges when embarking on this process, among them: writer’s block, fear of rejection, and criticism. Familiarize yourself with this important roadmap that outlines how to effectively condense your dissertation into a publishable journal article. You can increase your chances of publication success, as either a novice or seasoned researcher and author, by following these tips below:

Journal identification

First, do a quick self-assessment. Are you fully informed about the specific criteria required to evaluate a scholarly journal’s credibility ? It is important to keep in mind that your journal should: 

  • Be peer-reviewed
  • Have a high academic rigor, ranking, and reputation
  • Be indexed in databases that are credible and recognized in the field
  • Be in collaboration with editorial board members who are affiliated with reputable, prestigious academic institutions or universities, and
  • Have a minimum of 30% acceptance rate criteria or below

Shortening your thesis

Having a strong story with a unique and authentic voice is pivotal for a successful academic publication. Check whether you will be able to turn your original extensive research, which undoubtedly embodies an engaging story, into a shorter and to-the-point academic narrative. 

Manuscript reformat

You should have a clear understanding of the differences between a master’s thesis (or a doctoral dissertation) and a journal article in terms of their format , content, and organization. While a dissertation is process-oriented, a journal article is content-oriented. Also, unless advised otherwise by your journal’s format guidelines, your manuscript’s length should generally vary from 3,000 to 5,000 words and your required academic writing manuals should be the most recent edition of the APA writing style (7 th edition) or an alternative writing manual recommended to authors by your target journal (e.g., MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.).

Adapt your story arc 

The structure of the story in a journal article will be significantly different from that crafted in an academic thesis or a dissertation. For example, keep the literature review section in your journal manuscript relatively brief. When crafting a journal article, focus on the following: 

  • Theoretical/conceptual framework, and
  • Significance and contribution to the field and to the literature.

Your article’s section structure

Develop a clear understanding of how the structure of your journal article should be established. For example, your manuscript should generally comprise three sections. See the specific elements you should include in each part:


  • Introduction and the context of your research
  • Problem statement
  • Research questions (for qualitative studies) or hypotheses (for quantitative research)
  • Study’s significance to the field
  • Conceptual/theoretical framework
  • Review of the literature

Method and Design

  • Population and sample size 
  • Procedures of data collection and analysis (i.e., tools, instruments, and materials to gather, analyze, and synthesize data)
  • Validity, reliability, generalizability, transferability, and replicability
  • Discussions
  • Comparison and contrast with the current body of literature
  • Implications
  • Challenges and limitations
  • Recommendations or directions for future research 
  • Conclusions
  • A-ha moments, lessons learned, messages to take in a to-go box, etc.

Thus, whether a novice or an expert author, always ask yourself if you have a thorough comprehension of how to properly incorporate these essential components of each of the three parts into your academic manuscript. 

Identify your target audience 

Identify who will be reading your work. Do a detailed inquiry of who will benefit from your work, as the goal is for your research to contribute to your field’s literature. Once your target readers are identified, set out to write each part of your journal article accordingly.

Final words

In this blog entry, we have provided you with practical recommendations when setting out to craft your article for publication in a reputable journal. They will guide you in the right direction before, during, and after the writing process. We hope you will find them practical and helpful to get your own unique piece of scholarly work published sooner than anticipated.

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How to Turn Your Thesis Into a Journal Article

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In many cases, publishing thesis is often one of the requirements for graduate students to finish their academic program. Publishing research findings is one of the more important ways to share research data with the scientific community. However, the structure of it is different from that of a research article. In this article, we shall discuss how to turn your thesis to journal article.

Characteristics of a Thesis and a Journal Article

Differences between a thesis and a journal article.

While both contain similar sections, you cannot simply publish your thesis research as a journal article. Converting it into a journal article has many steps. It is important to recognize that an article is much shorter than the thesis. However, turning your thesis into a journal article will not be a simple matter of copy and paste. You will need to use the data in your thesis as the starting point for writing your article.

Related: Planning to publish your Ph.D. research in a good journal? Check these journal selection guidelines now!

The  many differences  between a thesis research and a journal article are as follows:

  • A thesis meets academic requirements while a journal article meets journalistic standards.
  • The abstract of an article is usually shorter than that of a thesis.
  • The introduction in a thesis is used to show that you are familiar with the literature in your chosen field. In a research paper , the introduction is much shorter as it is assumed that your target audience is familiar with the necessary background to understand your work. The introduction to your paper will, therefore, focus more on setting the stage for the data/research output that you are about to present.
  • The results section in a thesis will include all your findings. In a paper, this would be too much detail. The data in this section should be only what you need to support your research problem or hypothesis. Often, the results in former may represent two to three different papers.
  • The discussion in your paper will be much more focused than in your thesis. It will be guided by the results presented in the paper. Finally, only citations of articles actually mentioned in your paper will be listed in the references section.

Turning Thesis Research to Journal Article

As a researcher, you need to publish your work to advance your career and make contributions to the research field. Now that the differences have been outlined, how do you actually write one?

1. Identify a Suitable Journal

You could start by  journal selection . Look at your reference list. Chances are at least some of the papers you read were published in journals whose scope would match your work. Selecting a journal also allows you to tailor the paper to the specific requirements of that journal. Ensure that your research article coincides with the aim and scope of the journal. Understand the journal’s guidelines, recommended manuscript structure, and reference style

2. Reduce Redundant Length of Your Thesis

An important aspect of turning your thesis research to journal article is focusing on the word count without deleting crucial information. In order reduce word count , extract the data that answers just one research question. This should result in a more focused information than your thesis research presented. Discuss results in context with your problem statement-that is the focus of your paper. Good language and structure are crucial – your paper may get rejected even though it contains valuable data if it is difficult to understand. Use your data to tell a coherent story and avoid sweeping conclusions your data cannot support. Ensure that your title matches the contents of your paper. Paraphrase the content without changing the meaning.

3. Modify Introduction as Abstract

Repurpose the introduction as an abstract by shortening your thesis introduction to 100-150 words. Remember to maintain key points of the introduction to hold the reader’s attention. Formulate the introduction and discussion of thesis as basis for the journal article’s abstract. Furthermore, consider combining multiple research questions or focus on just one for the journal article.

4. Focus on Relevant and Selective Information

Since the discussion, methods and methodology, and results section of your thesis is an in-detail explanation of your research, these sections must be kept short while writing in a journal article.  Familiarize yourself with the target journal’s standards by referring previously published papers and understanding their format. Most importantly, provide interpretation of main findings in the results section in concise statements or tabular formats. Avoid repeating your results in the discussion section. However, discuss how your findings expand and support previous perspectives of the research. Finally, mention how future studies can build upon your work and address limitations in your study.

5. Limit the Number of References

As your thesis is a work of several years put together, it involves numerous literature reviewing. However, while turning your thesis to journal article, you must include only limited references that are relevant to the research question addressed in the journal article. Focus on using most recent references. Consider using reference management tools such as Zotero, Mendeley, Quiqqa, etc. to make the referencing process easier and efficient.

It is an academic requirement that you publish your data for the benefit of the scientific community. Considering that the structure of journal article is different from the structure of a thesis, turning a thesis to journal article must be done following logical steps as mentioned above.

Did you ever have to convert your thesis to journal article? How did you plan it? What strategies did you use while reducing the word count of your thesis? Let us know in the comments section below! You can also visit our  Q&A forum  for frequently asked questions related to different aspects of research writing and publishing answered by our team that comprises subject-matter experts, eminent researchers, and publication experts.

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I was Searching For This From So Many days. Thank you for Sharing

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Thanks! Glad you liked it.

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Are we also going to talk Code of Conduct in Research, as authorship is part of the conduct (ethics)?

Regards, Elvia

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I guess you are referring to our upcoming webinar on Assigning Authorship & Contributorship | Tips for Researchers. We will be discussing the ethical dilemmas in authorship during the session.

We would request you to register and attend the webinar for additional insights on this topic.

Meanwhile, we would recommend you to share your queries with us on our FREE Q&A forum . In addition, you may download our FREE mobile app to stay updated on the latest resources in research writing and academic publishing.

What about the Topic? we need to rephrase the topic or keep it same with Thesis topic?

Hi Shahid, Thank you for your question. Your thesis topic would be a cumulative title for all the chapters described in your thesis. When you publish your thesis as a journal article, every chapter would be published as an individual article in most cases. You may or may not use the same title that you have used for that particular chapter in the thesis. Your thesis would have chapter names that are more suited to the overall objective of your thesis. On the other hand, your manuscript should ideally have a catchy and search-optimized title highlighting a general perspective. It may not be the same as your thesis title. However, if your thesis chapter title meets the requirement of the manuscript you intend to publish, you can go ahead with the same.

You could also go through our articles on writing good research paper titles: https://www.enago.com/academy/top-10-tips-on-choosing-an-attractive-research-title/ https://www.enago.com/academy/writing-a-good-research-title-things-to-avoid/ https://www.enago.com/academy/write-irresistible-research-paper-title/

Did you get a chance to install our FREE mobile app . Make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter: https://www.enago.com/academy/subscribe-now/ .

Hi Dr. Durga, Amazing article and I am sure it will surely help the writers to write more carefully and also plagiarised free.

Greeting from Enago Academy! Thank you for your positive comment. We are glad to know that you found our resources useful. Your feedback is very valuable to us. Happy reading!

i just read the article and also the comments section it’s so helpful. thank you so much for sharing it.. good work!

Thanks a lot for this informational blog which surely going to help the students pursuing the Phd. Nowdays due to assignment burden students started taking the help of professional academic experts. There are many writing services.

Thank you for the very useful article. I will definitely look into it.

Writing a book: needed advice and help at one point. I found enago academy in my search of Answers. You were a Great Help! I hope to use your services again, if I am stuck on correct writing principles! Thank You for being here. K.R. Plante

This helped me a lot; thank you for this informative article.

Thanks for writing such an informative blog which will surely be a great help for the students as well as the institutions

Great article! One question…. should I cite the thesis in the paper? If so, how do I do that efficiently since it would be all over the place?

good, insightful piece of text.

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Thesis vs Journal Article: A Comprehensive Comparison

In the world of academia, two prominent forms of scholarly writing are the Thesis and the Journal Article . While both contribute to the advancement of knowledge and showcase research skills, they have distinct characteristics and serve different purposes. Understanding the differences between a thesis and a journal article is crucial for researchers, scholars, and students. In this article, we will provide a detailed and insightful comparison of these two forms of academic writing, examining their purpose, structure, audience, and publication process.

A thesis serves as a comprehensive demonstration of a student’s ability to conduct independent research, analyze data, and contribute original insights to their field of study. Its primary purpose is to fulfill the requirements for the completion of a degree, whether it be a master’s or a doctoral program. A thesis delves deep into a specific research problem, addressing gaps in existing knowledge and making a unique contribution to the field.

On the other hand, a journal article focuses on the dissemination of research findings to the wider academic community. Its purpose is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge, engage in scholarly discourse, and facilitate further research. Journal articles are typically more specific in scope, targeting a particular research question or hypothesis, and highlighting the significance of the findings within the context of the field.

Thesis and journal articles follow different structures to fulfill their respective purposes.

A thesis typically consists of several chapters, including an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. These chapters are interconnected, forming a cohesive narrative that showcases the student’s research journey. Additionally, a thesis may include supplementary sections such as an abstract, acknowledgments, and appendices. The structure of a thesis allows for an extensive exploration of the research problem, thorough analysis of the findings, and comprehensive discussion of their implications.

In contrast, a journal article adheres to a more concise and standardized structure. It typically includes an abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. Journal articles are focused and aim to present the research in a clear and concise manner within the limited word count set by the target journal. The structure of a journal article emphasizes brevity, with a specific focus on the key findings and their implications.

Audience and Publication

Theses and journal articles differ in their target audience and publication process.

Theses are primarily intended for academic evaluation and examination. They are typically assessed by a committee of professors or experts in the field. Theses contribute to the existing body of knowledge within a specific discipline, but they are not usually published in academic journals. While some theses may be made available through institutional repositories, their primary audience is the academic community within the student’s institution.

Journal articles, on the other hand, target a broader audience of researchers, scholars, and practitioners in the field. They undergo a rigorous peer-review process, where experts in the field assess the quality, validity, and contribution of the research. Successful publication in a reputable journal allows researchers to share their findings with the wider academic community, receive feedback, and contribute to ongoing scholarly discussions.

Length and Depth

Another significant difference between theses and journal articles lies in their length and depth.

Theses are typically longer and more extensive in terms of content. They require students to conduct comprehensive research, provide detailed literature reviews, and present thorough analyses. The length of a thesis can vary depending on the field and degree level, ranging from tens to hundreds of pages. This length allows for an in-depth exploration of the research problem and the incorporation of relevant theoretical frameworks and methodologies.

Journal articles, on the other hand, are generally shorter and more concise. They aim to present the research findings within the constraints of the target journal’s word count limitations. Journal articles can range from a few thousand words to around 8,000 words, depending on the journal’s requirements. The brevity of journal articles necessitates clear and focused writing, emphasizing the key findings, their interpretation, and their implications for the field. While the depth of analysis may be more limited compared to a thesis, journal articles are expected to provide sufficient information for other researchers to understand and build upon the presented research.

Citation and Referencing

Both theses and journal articles require accurate and comprehensive referencing to acknowledge the contributions of other researchers and provide credibility to the work.

In the case of theses, referencing is typically more extensive, as they involve comprehensive literature reviews and incorporate a broader range of sources. Theses follow specific citation styles, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago, as per the guidelines provided by the institution or department.

Journal articles also adhere to specific citation styles determined by the target journal. However, the referencing in journal articles tends to be more focused on the specific literature and studies directly relevant to the research question at hand. The emphasis is on providing adequate support for the key arguments and findings presented in the article.

The thesis and the journal article are distinct forms of academic writing, each with its own purpose, structure, audience, and publication process.

Theses demonstrate a student’s research capabilities and contribute original insights to their field of study. They are comprehensive in scope, consisting of several chapters that explore the research problem in depth. Theses are primarily evaluated by academic committees and are not typically published in academic journals.

Journal articles, on the other hand, aim to disseminate research findings to the wider academic community. They focus on specific research questions and contribute to existing knowledge. Journal articles follow a concise and standardized structure, adhering to the guidelines of the target journal. They undergo rigorous peer review and are published in reputable journals to reach a broader audience.

Understanding the distinctions between theses and journal articles enables researchers, scholars, and students to approach each form of writing with the appropriate structure, depth, and style required for their intended purpose and audience. Both theses and journal articles play vital roles in advancing knowledge and fostering academic discourse within their respective fields.

Thesis vs Journal Article: A Comprehensive Comparison

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