I have submitted my Master thesis manuscript to the university library. It is completely new work (never published before to any journal or conference). Now, I want to submit my Master thesis to a journal (as a paper) without modifying it much/anything. Is it ethical/legal to publish your Master thesis manuscript as a journal paper? Should I mention this to the editor of the journal? Because, in the journal guidelines, it says: we accept the manuscript only if it is not published before to any journal or conference. It does not mention anything about other publication sources (like: Master or PhD thesis submitted to the university library). Will I face any problem in future if I do so?

PS: I am thinking to submit it in IEEE Transactions on Computers journal. I talked with the university librarians. They told me they do not have any problem if it is published elsewhere. They just keep a copy in the university library (including online library - which I can also keep 'private'). I am asking if the journal has any problem or not? For my university, it does not really matter (since I have already given the manuscript to them and they have accepted it). My university is in Republic of Korea.

  • Welcome! Have you talked with your university librarians about what license is implied by submitting the manuscript to them? If so, please edit your question to reflect this, as that might make this more answerable. Knowing what country you (and the journal) are in would also make it more possible to answer the legal question, though ultimately we are not answering as lawyers. – cactus_pardner May 9 '18 at 19:07
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    You'll also want to look at the guidelines of the journal that you're submitting to. Many journals have policies allowing for prior publication as a thesis, but some do not. In many cases, you'll also need to substantially shorten your thesis to make a paper of appropriate length for journal publication. – Brian Borchers May 9 '18 at 19:25
  • @cactus_pardner, I edited my question. – Arpssss May 9 '18 at 19:25
  • @BrianBorchers, I edited my question. BTW, yes some parts will be deleted. But, still the thesis significantly overlaps with the paper. Which (theoretically) means plagiarism. – Arpssss May 9 '18 at 19:28
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    @Arpssss the university required it. I've never dealt with a journal that didn't allow prior (or subsequent) publication in a thesis. – A Simple Algorithm May 9 '18 at 20:02

It is perfectly Okay to make a paper out of a master's thesis. Many aspiring PhD candidates do.

However, an MSc thesis is typically 50-100 pages long. A paper is (in a dense journal format) typically 8-12 pages long. Let's make a generous estimate for 20 pages in the thesis layout.

So either your thesis is very thin, or the journal is very generous, both of which seems unlikely.

Next issue is that you write a thesis in a very different manner than a research paper.

Hence, you would definitely need to rewrite the paper. And you have one issue less to worry about. The copyright might still be a concern for figures, for example, but from your comments I recon that this is not a problem. (It should not have been one, but it was proper to check before.)

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  • Thank you very much for your answer. Just want to make it clear again. My thesis paper is around 40 pages (we have page restriction in MSc thesis). But, it contains many unnecessary process descriptions, explanation of how a well-known algorithm/method works blah blah. which obviously I cannot put it in a journal paper. If I delete them then my thesis essentially become 16 page paper. So, all the figures, algorithms, mathematical definitions, results will be the same. My university/professor don't have any problem. Can the journal guys reject the paper later by stating "it is plagiarized"? – Arpssss May 9 '18 at 19:52
  • Another question, should I mention this to the editor? Just to be safe or just leave it? – Arpssss May 9 '18 at 19:54
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    You might mention this in the letter to editor, but probably the safest bet is to cite the MSc thesis in the paper. – Oleg Lobachev May 9 '18 at 20:35

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