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I recently finished my PhD thesis which will be published as a book soon. Now I'm wondering if it's possible or allowed to submit parts to a journal?

Normally the process would be the other way round I think: Submitting papers and "gluing" them together for the thesis. I've read the guidelines of some journals which state "that the work described has not been published before" or that "Papers must present scientific results that are essentially new".

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    Could you be a bit more specific as to what you mean by "published as a book"? Are you simply making a few bound copies, are you self-publishing or is this going to an academic publisher? – Pedro Aug 22 '12 at 15:49
  • Oh sorry :) It is going to a publisher and can be ordered there. – John Aug 22 '12 at 15:59
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    See also this complementary question. – JeffE Aug 22 '12 at 19:53
  • This question is probably field dependent. For example, in sociology in France it is usually not possible to publish in a journal something that has been made available on the web, (and books are the most important research outputs). – Benoît Kloeckner Aug 23 '12 at 7:52
  • The field of the dissertation is Management Information Systems. But the content is a mixture of biometrics and machine learning. – John Aug 23 '12 at 12:46
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As a general rule, you cannot publish anything as original research that has already been published. (You may be able to reprint it in other venues, but most research journals do not do this.)

Of course, the trick is what counts as "already published". Nowadays, many publishers (including all mathematics publishers, for example) do not count informal distribution on the internet as prior publication. It's common not to count extended abstracts from conference proceedings, although the journal may require some revisions or extensions. Nobody counts submitting a dissertation as prior publication, even if the university makes it available for download or purchase, and technical reports are generally in the same category.

On the other hand, publication as a "real book" definitely counts as prior publication and would rule out journals. Of course, this just brings up the question of what a "real book" is. Basically, if it's published by a serious academic publisher, with some nontrivial selection and editorial advice, then that counts as publication. On the other hand, if it's some random publisher printing copies of Ph.D. theses and selling them online, then you could make a strong case that it's not really published (and that this is not so different from ordering a dissertation copy).

However, I think you need to discuss this explicitly when submitting your paper. For example, you could add a sentence to your submission letter along the lines of "This work is based on my thesis from University X, which is available for sale by Y but has not been traditionally published". It's much better to deal with this upfront than to have someone later ask "Wait, why is someone selling copies of this work online?"

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    I think Dave Clarke and I fundamentally agree, but I felt it was worth expanding on the issues. – Anonymous Mathematician Aug 22 '12 at 21:43
  • Thanks for the answer! Basically that's what came to my mind upfront. The publisher will be a well known one, but it'll be published as a dissertation. This means there will be no editorial advice except in layout questions. Selection is based on the grade. So to sum up, I'll check the contract with the publisher and also ask the potential journal(s) if submission is allowed under this constraints. – John Aug 23 '12 at 12:42
  • If you are going to reuse some material in whole or part, you have to have permissions from the copyright holders. So the people you have to contact are the people who have contracted the book. Your situation is the reverse of what i've normally heard. Usually one turns the diss into papers, and then based on feedback, works those papers into the book. There the journal editors are usually happy to let you turn your short paper into part of a chapter in a published book. I suspect book editors are going to be less obliging, unless you can argue that the publications are going to help sell it. – shane Mar 2 '14 at 12:24
  • As a rule of thumb, I would say any publication with an ISBN/ISSN is an official publication, anything without that is nonofficial and OK for submitting to conference/journal. – THN Mar 11 at 14:59
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In general, this is allowed, even encouraged.

The answer depends on what kind of book you are publishing. If it is the regular dissertation, then you can publish in journals. If it is a properly published book by Springer or equivalent, then I doubt that you can publish again.

  • Thanks for the quick response! What do you mean by regular dissertation? It'll be published as a book available on amazon, etc. in German. Why does this distinction matter in your opinion? – John Aug 22 '12 at 15:55
  • If it's published by a scientific publisher, then you (probably) cannot republish it as papers. If it is just published in the dissertation series, then you can. Check with the publisher. – Dave Clarke Aug 22 '12 at 17:24
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    @John: If you are dealing with a real publisher, you will sign a contract. Check the terms of your contract. – Jukka Suomela Aug 22 '12 at 17:47
  • Ok, thanks for your responses so far! Yes indeed I'm currently waiting for the contract and I'll check it. I was wondering whether (given the contract with the publisher of the book permits it) a journal accepts content, which has been published in some altered form already. As the dissertation is in German, I'll have to rewrite the parts and translate them, so it won't be exactly the same. – John Aug 22 '12 at 18:46
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    Yeah, whether the journals approve is at least as big an issue as whether the dissertation publisher does. – Anonymous Mathematician Aug 22 '12 at 21:44

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