My PhD thesis is due around October, 2015 (~6 months ahead of the time of writing this).

I would like to submit a journal paper which contains substantial results from my research, mainly the reasons for this are:

  • It will be peer reviewed.

  • It will be useful to others in the same area

  • I can cite it in my thesis

  • I can use parts of it that have already been written in my thesis

I have found two appropriate journals, one more prestigious than the other. One of them says it will be reviewed in 6 week (the less prestigious of the two), and the other says it is likely to not be reviewed by October.

It's now difficult to decide which to submit to, and this depends on if it's 'ok' to cite a paper which is currently in review, in my own thesis. Ultimately, I will have done the work and just want to be able to metaphorically point at it and say, "look, this is substantial and good enough to be published, this is why I have submitted separately". I believe that the viva, and writing the thesis will be easier with a number of accepted papers (I feel this is a sad truth, but true nonetheless).

I have viewed a similar question here: How to cite my own submitted but not yet published work?

However this is regarding citing published work in other papers, whereas the difference here is that I am only citing it in my own thesis (hopefully others will cite it if it's accepted and useful, which I believe there is a good chance it is).

Any advice would be great and really appreciated.

  • 1
    What would such a citation look like? There does not seem to be anything to point to until it has actually been published. Also, have you considered uploading a preprint somewhere, which you can then cite instead? Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 10:55
  • 9
    @TobiasKildetoft "Manuscript, in submission" or "Preprint, availabe at (url)", or "arXiv:(number)".
    – JeffE
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 10:58
  • It would have to be similar to the example by @JeffE or those on the other question I liked to. I'm hesitant to host my work on arXiv, particularly as it may harm the chance of it being accepted. I am sure this is not an uncommon situation to be in, particularly as it takes a long time for reviews and a lot of PhDs are 3 years, but so far I am yet to come across a generally accepted answer.
    – ThePerson
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 11:05
  • 2
    Could you elaborate on how putting it on the arXiv could harm the chances of acceptance? What field is this? Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 11:06
  • 1
    In physics, every journal has the standard clause in their terms about not submitting previously published work; nevertheless, many, many papers are posted to arXiv before being submitted for review and possible publication. Some journals explicitly allow this by including in their terms an exception for preprint servers (e.g. arXiv), but it may also be the case that a journal simply doesn't consider posting on arXiv to be publication. So you should check the terms of your desired publication venue(s) carefully, and perhaps ask someone about this before deciding you can't post on arXiv.
    – David Z
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


In most fields, a thesis is not counted as publication for purposes of avoiding duplication. Thus, it is acceptable for the same material to appear in both a peer-reviewed article and your thesis, in either order: it is both acceptable to "staple" published material together to form a thesis and to "extract" thesis materials for publication afterward.

This means that you have two different options for your case here, depending on the particulars of your circumstance:

  • If the work you want to publish is something your thesis depends on, then submit the article and also include the work in the thesis (adapted appropriately for context in both circumstances, of course). You can the put a citation in your thesis noting that this work is submitted.
  • If the work you want to publish is largely independent of your thesis, but just useful for you to note exists in your discussions, then don't include it in your thesis, and again, cite it as a submitted work.

In either case, for purpose of your advisor and committee's evaluation of your work, you can give them a copy of the article that is under review. Thus, even though your article may not yet be published, its content can be easily made available to everybody who matters for acceptance of your thesis.

Finally: your advisor will likely have opinions and should probably be involved in the decision in any case.

  • Thanks - this sounds like solid advice. The key part of this answer for me is that for anyone reviewing my thesis, I can actually give them a copy if need be. The work is something my thesis depends on, it's a good chunk of it and it's almost certainly going to have to be adapted in some way to be in there. I will of course speak to my supervisor, however getting clear answers is often difficult. Thank you!
    – ThePerson
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 12:01

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