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The goal of my PhD was to design a particular device. Such a ldesign requires many considerations, because the structure has many "moving parts" and available upgrades.

The topic has been studied for a few decades now, however I haven't seen any paper that puts all the stuff together. Finding all the papers that are useful for my design was a very long process. My beginnings were difficult and I imagine, that during my first steps in the field, such papers would be very useful to get an overview of possible tweaks and trade-offs.

From other answers I know that it's good to have a senior expert in team, who can use their experience to give evaluation and remarks, however due to my organization's situation, I can't hope for such collaboration. I already adopted a strategy to write my introduction chapter, which is the same as this strategy on writing reviews.

So is it a good idea to convert my intro chapter into a survey and publish it?

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In almost all cases I would say that this is not a good idea (at least in STEM). It may be possible to get such a paper accepted somewhere, but it may not be viewed favourably by the community.

The main reason being that a survey/review paper is not the same as a literature review in a thesis. They serve different purposes and target different audiences. A good survey paper should discuss the current state of the art, synthesising research and providing insight, and discuss where the field is heading in the future. It's unlikely a PhD student would have sufficient experience in the field to credibly judge future directions for example.

If there is a senior researcher that you could co-author such a paper with then this could work. They don't need to be at your institution, it could be someone you met at a conference for example.

All journal papers should make an original contribution, including a survey paper. In the case of a review/survey paper this original contribution comes from the author's original (and well respected) insights into the field and expert opinion about the future.

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  • I'm not fully convinced. Because in my case, I never needed a review to see the future directions, but as a map of what I can already use for my technological improvements. Also, from my (and most of my friends) sad experience, audience of the thesis is the following: "an overworked faculty member who isn't even in your field, who has to review 200 theses until next month". I'm in applied field close to tightly funded industry, so it's not about "potential outlook" but "what works and is easily implemented".
    – user46147
    Aug 8 at 13:56
  • So do you think that it changes the potential usefulness of such review?
    – user46147
    Aug 8 at 13:58
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    Not really to be honest. Think about it this way - would the academics who examine your PhD see this chapter as providing original insights into the field and use it to define the future direction of their field? Or would they find that it provided the necessary background for the rest of your PhD? Those are quite different things.
    – atom44
    Aug 8 at 14:01
  • Welll... maybe they would see that some parameters were more intensively studied than others? They could see that some parameters weren't studied combined together? My main concern is that I don't want other beginners to go through the same digging that I went through, and such beginner likely won't find my thesis, because theses don't get such exposure as papers. Maybe there's some other form, that could help?
    – user46147
    Aug 8 at 14:07
  • I think that's a great reason to promote your thesis. You could put a link to it on your website, and add it to your google scholar profile, for example. You could also cite your thesis in other papers you write on the topic. This should help anyone researching that topic find and obtain your thesis.
    – atom44
    Aug 9 at 9:01
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Yes, by all means, go for it! As long as you did a decent, accurate job, you will surely be able to find a journal that will be willing to publish a thoroughly executed literature review. However, depending on the quality of the review, there is no guarantee that a selective journal would publish it.

As some of the other answers have indicated, a senior colleague as a coauthor could definitely help improve the quality of such a review. However, if you have the right technique for executing a high-quality review, even as a doctoral student, you could still produce a review that could be valuable to a wide scholarly public and could be published in a journal with a wide readership.

Excuse me for promoting my own work, but I have a working paper that specifically addresses what selective journals are looking for in what they consider a high-quality review: Developing Novel and Relevant Theoretical Contributions with Literature Reviews. In summary:

  • A mere summary of what the literature says is rarely appreciated by selective journals.
  • What they typically appreciate is reviews that highlight conflicts in the literature and either meaningfully reconcile these conflicts or, for unresolved conflicts, convincingly show why such conflicts are practically important.
  • "Conflicts" in this context include practically important issues that the literature has neglected, as long as the review convincingly shows that the issues are truly important.
  • If there are no important conflicts in the literature (including important neglected points), then selective journals would most likely not find the review to be interesting enough to publish. When there is no conflict in a story, then the storyline is bland.

Hopefully, my working paper could give you ideas and strategies for finding interesting conflicts and framing your survey as an interesting and important contribution. Without a doubt, having a senior colleague would help to more effectively find valuable insights, but with the right technique, I believe even a doctoral student working alone could raise some valuable points.

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    Don't neglect to cite the thesis. Self plagiarism is anything but an oxymoron. Its purpose is to provide a reader with the complete context of ideas when they have appeared in an earlier publication. Yes, it is a bit different from ordinary plagiarism, though that has the same concern as one of its elements.
    – Buffy
    Aug 9 at 16:06
  • @Buffy, There might be differences of academic discipline at play. Perhaps in disciplines like computer science where peer review is single-blind (that is, reviewers see the authors' identities), it is common for doctoral students to cite their theses. But in double-blind peer review academic cultures (like mine, information systems), such a self-citation would normally be forbidden because it would reveal the authors' identities. That is why in my earlier comment I only mentioned citing the thesis in the acknowledgements of the article (after acceptance).
    – Tripartio
    Aug 12 at 6:45
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It might be workable, but whether it is a "good" idea or not is up to the reviewers of any such paper. Note, however, that there are a couple of issues.

The most important is that you avoid self plagiarism using necessary citations. The paper and the thesis might need to cross cite in the worst case. It might not require any changes, but you need to keep it in mind in writing both.

The second is that such a paper would need some specific focus or central idea to be cohesive enough to get good reviews. Your "device" probably provides such a focus, but maybe not for a survey paper.

And you should also consider whether your thesis itself is where you should expose the world to this summary. It might increase the interest in the thesis - a good thing.

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  • Can you elaborate a bit more about avoiding self plagiarism? How would that look in practice? Obviously my plan is to attribute all the results in the field to their authors. But maybe it is more subtle than that?
    – user46147
    Aug 8 at 13:45
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    In particular, you shouldn't/can't just copy your intro and present it as an independent work. It isn't. If it makes any contribution (of your own) then citation is needed. It can be as simple as a statement that the paper is "largely based on" the intro to the thesis, but some ack of a prior work is needed.
    – Buffy
    Aug 8 at 13:47
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    I respectfully disagree with the oxymoronic notion of "self-plagiarism". The term"self-plagiarism" typically confuses and conflates other issues. What you describe here sounds like what is properly called "multiple submission". But then the resolution is quite straightforward. Just be sure to explicitly mention in the cover letter that the work is based on a thesis and then in the published article, just repeat this point and cite the thesis in the acknowledgements. With that, most journals in my field (information systems) have absolutely no problem with freely reusing work from a thesis.
    – Tripartio
    Aug 9 at 15:34
  • COPE provides guidelines for publishing materials from a thesis. In their view thesis material uniquily provided in the thesis is not to be considered published and hence not problematic for inclusion in an article. Aug 12 at 11:37
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yes, you can do that I totally agree with @Tripatio ACM accepts some introductory communications too but in most cases, it is entirely necessary to at least hold some reproduction of results. Any introductory papers are too hypothetical to take it to the acceptance level and literature work is extremely neglected by EICs because these days EICs hope that it will not make an impact on the readers.

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    Don't neglect to cite the thesis.
    – Buffy
    Aug 9 at 16:06

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