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What information is important to provide when citing from a PhD thesis that has appeared as book?

  • The publisher (even if it is a 'dubious' one that might vanish in the near future)
  • or the institution and that it is a phd thesis.

As for bibtex, I wonder whether I should use the @book or the @phdthesis entry type.

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Provide the citation form that you think will be most useful to readers in the middle or long term, or provide both.

If it's self-published, then cite it as you would cite a thesis. On the other hand, if it was published in book form by a respectable publisher (i.e. it will be easy to find 10 years from now), then cite the book. This is commonly done in some fields of humanities.

Citing both is also an option, and it does not have a downside, except it's a bit longer.

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  • Good points. I tend to cite dubious cases as phd theses. But I also thought that the authors would like to see their work cited as a book. – Jan Oct 17 '13 at 9:41
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    If the book version is from a good enough publisher to be listed in scholarly databases (Scopus, Web of Science, Pubmed), I'd definitely go with the book version. Unfortunately in academia citation counts can decide the career of a person, hence it is important to make sure that you are citing them in a way that is accounted for. You can easily grab the bibtex from said databases, and stick a note="Based on the author PhD thesis at the University of Nowhere" at the end. – Federico Poloni Oct 17 '13 at 11:17
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    Citing both versions might raise confusion about possible differences in the editions. I think I will go with @FedericoPoloni 's suggestion to cite the book and add a note that points to the phd thesis and the institute. This should guarantee best traceability and (hopefully) accessability in the long term. – Jan Oct 17 '13 at 12:19
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If a thesis is published as a book with an ISBN number (or ISSN-number as is the case with theses in my university system) then the thesis is traceable and identifiable. There may even be a doi associated with it. An unpublished thesis can of course be traced back to the department where it was produced, or at least the university. But, often such theses are found on fragile perhaps unmaintained web-pages with uncertain life-span. So given the information you provide both can be quite fragile, but with the published version the traceability might be better.

One has to realize that theses are treated and stored in varying ways in different university systems. In some cases there are central repositories for unpublished thesis, in others there are not. They may even only exist as working copies for the examination committee. In my system they are printed and provided as part of a publication series (with and ISSN and ISBN number). So while there is nothing wrong with citing a PhD thesis using as you suggest bibTeX' @phdthesis, I would argue that using a published @book is better because of the official traceability (provided it has ISSN/ISBN/doi).

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    At least in the United States, there is no such thing as an "unpublished thesis". To first approximation, all PhD theses are published by ProQuest (formerly University Microfilms). – JeffE Oct 17 '13 at 20:08

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