On Publishing Well - colum by Ashok R Chandran

Column / On Publishing Well – April 2019

Column: On Publishing Well
by Ashok R. Chandran
(Book editor, writing trainer)


Some recent developments appear to be disrupting the global scholarly publishing landscape (for the better!).

India’s principal scientific advisor tweeted in February that India would be joining Plan S, an initiative by an international consortium of research funders, to make publicly-funded research Open Access from 2020. It is not clear which all Indian funding bodies will sign Plan S.

The University of California announced in February 2019, that it was terminating its journal subscription contract with Elsevier. While paying for journals, the university wanted to make open access its own scholars’ publications in Elsevier journals. Similarly, in March, Norway announced that they had failed to reach an agreement with Elsevier.


I have been awarded PhD. How do I publish my thesis?

Congratulations on your PhD. Please convert the chapters of your PhD thesis into articles and publish them in legitimate, peer-reviewed journals.

‘No, no, I meant that I want to publish it as a book’, you might say. Er…, that’s not a great idea.

The thesis was written for a limited audience (2-3 examiners) and aimed at demonstrating your mastery of research tools in your discipline and scholarship on your topic. It was not meant for a wide audience beyond your discipline.

To make your thesis attractive to a publisher or the public, you will have to rewrite it, typically into simpler prose, with less jargon and footnotes, and with a shorter discussion of methodology.

You might have to present the existing ideas in a different sequence (for example, weave the review of literature into other chapters at suitable places rather than retain it as a distinct chapter).

And since a book is intended for a wider audience, you might have to add a chapter that discusses broader, contemporary issues. This will increase the book’s relevance and attractiveness for the publisher.

Do you still want to convert your thesis into a book? If so, here are two popular routes.

Route A: Hire a good editor and ask him/her to convert your thesis into a book. They will charge you at least a lakh of rupees (because this is 3-4 months’ work). Meanwhile, you (subject expert) can work on adding fresh material.

Route B: Do the conversion yourself. For this, wait six months or one year, to gain a fresh perspective (from a distance) of your own thesis.

You can use that cooling-off period to extend your research into 1-2 areas, prepare a thesis chapter for publication in a journal, and to read up on how to convert a thesis into a book (see reading list below).

Once your editor or you are close to completing the conversion, download your preferred publisher’s book proposal form, fill it, and contact the publisher.

Recommended reading

  • How to Publish Your PhD by Sarah Caro (SAGE; South Asian edition available),
  • From Dissertation to Book, Second Edition by William Germano (The University of Chicago Press).


For PhD students, the Department of Library and Information Studies, St. Thomas College (Autonomous), Thrissur has announced an orientation workshop on Research Writing for Publication from 6-8 May 2019 in Thrissur. I will be facilitating all the sessions. To know more, please visit the registration site.

Comments? Visit the Kerala Scholars Messenger website.

© Ashok R. Chandran, 2019.

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