At many European universities (I don't know how it is in other countries), you still have to write a proper PhD thesis, while others allow for writing a summary and attach three published articles. For the former case, it is still best to publish the research before submitting the thesis, and to reference the published work within the thesis accordingly.

The question is: Is it possible to make it the other way around? That is to publish the research with the thesis and later submit a proper article to a journal? The journal might reject it, because the research is already published and publicly available, albeit not peer reviewed in a journal. It could thus be comparable to a preprint, which most journals accept.

Edit: I work in theoretical chemistry

Edit 2: There is already a similar question (Can I publish parts of the Ph.D thesis as a paper in a journal?), which is however about publishing the thesis as a proper book instead of just making it available online in line with the universities requirements.

Edit 3: Another question (Paper was rejected for high similarity with parts of my own dissertation) is also close, but it is about steps to take, if the article was already rejected due to the previous publication within a thesis. It proves, that this question is indeed valid and there are some journals, which might object pre-publication in a thesis.

I identified three other related questions: Publicly available extended summary of PhD thesis and manuscript submission, Chapter in printed thesis vs. journal article, Paper from my already published PhD thesis -- How do I cite it?

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    It might be worthwhile to specify your field in order to get accurate advice and first-hand experience from people in the same field. Sep 2, 2021 at 10:20
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    Does this answer your question? Can I publish parts of the Ph.D thesis as a paper in a journal? Sep 2, 2021 at 12:45
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    We have a lot of questions like this one. academia.stackexchange.com/questions/151308/… Sep 2, 2021 at 12:45
  • Hmmmm..... <looks back at publication list and dates> - indeed, they certainly used to.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 2, 2021 at 13:14
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    I can't give an answer since my information is too dated, but 50 years ago it was standard for dissertations in math (and other fields) to be "published" by University Microfilms. It was a requirement and students needed to pay (in my case) a small fee to get it done. But top AMS math journals would also publish papers that were closely connected to the dissertation. Edited mostly for length, perhaps. But not really distinct works. That may still be the case. I also got a copy of my daughter's dissertation from them, many years later. They don't review, though, just make things available.
    – Buffy
    Sep 2, 2021 at 20:54

2 Answers 2


As an example: Nature Communications has the following paragraph in their editorial policies on duplicate publication

Nature Portfolio will consider submissions containing material that has previously formed part of a PhD or other academic thesis which has been published according to the requirements of the institution awarding the qualification.

Edit: There are similar paragraphs in most journal policies. Yet, one probably has to rephrase the text in order to publish the results (Paper was rejected for high similarity with parts of my own dissertation)

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    I think this answers your question? This is a perfectly normal policy, i've never come across a journal with a different one. Sep 2, 2021 at 10:17
  • @IanSudbery while it is probably really perfectly normal, there seem to be cases, where it is not applied: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/151308/…
    – Libavi
    Sep 3, 2021 at 13:12
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    That is different the problem there is not that the results were previously published in a thesis, but that the same text was used. The journal policies state that results/interpretation that has laready been published in a thesis can be published in a journal, not that sections of thesis can be lifted wholesale and just reformatted as a paper. Sep 3, 2021 at 17:05
  • @IanSudbery actually, I don't see, why the same text is a problem. For preprints, that is also no problem
    – Libavi
    Sep 9, 2021 at 11:15
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    My point was that the problem in the case you cited was that the text was the same. I make no comment on whether it is right to bar the same text from being reused. Sep 9, 2021 at 17:03

Usually there is no issue with publishing material in a journal article if it has been already included in a PhD thesis since a thesis isn't usually considered a "prior publication" for these purposes (and most publishers realize there will be overlap between published articles and thesis). If you are still uncertain, then the best course of action is to email the editor of the journal you want to submit to and get their opinion. They may also want you to cite the thesis in the paper if it is available already (e.g. if it is posted before you submit the initial version they could request a small footnote stating that).

You may run into issues with figures and tables though (and large chunks of text if you want to just copy verbatim from the thesis), depending on the copyright status of your thesis. Unless you publish in a journal that allows you to keep copyright of the article, you will generally need to assign the copyright to them. If your thesis copyright license is such that you can't do that, then you couldn't use the exact figures/tables from the thesis in the papers. In most cases, I think the copyright that most universities want you to apply would permit this - but you can always check with your graduate school/thesis administrator/library about it. This would be another case where if you are uncertain you should approach the editors with the question and they can tell you the publisher's policies.

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