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I am writing up my dissertation, and one of the chapters is a final draft of an as-yet unsubmitted journal article.

I know with published works, I just get the copyright from the journal if needed, and can include the reprint as is in my dissertation, but how do I include a draft? The version of the draft as it stands now is essentially what is going to be submitted, verbatim. Which means if I defend first, the work is technically published in my dissertation. I defend in 3 weeks. I was going to submit right after. Is this doable? We're not even 100% certain which journal we are submitting to.

Thanks for the help!

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This is actually how many "sandwich thesis" dissertations are actually structured, my own included. Generally speaking, I've seen them structured like so:

  • Background, literature review, sections on data sets, and other material that will matter to each and every chapter under consideration, and is likely more detailed than you would find in a paper.
  • Each "paper chapter" essentially existing in it's free-standing, ready to be published form.
  • Final chapters putting those free standing chapters in context with each other and your work as a whole, summarizing key findings, etc.

So basically, the short answer is to put it in as a chapter in its current form. I've never seen any journal object to a paper having previously appeared in a dissertation, and keep in mind it may very well change - there will be editorial comments from your committee, reviewer comments, etc. It's essentially just a pre-print.

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Ahh, now that I posted, I see this related question:

Can I use text from my dissertation in a manuscript?

It appears that as long as i do not copyright my dissertation, which I have to option to do but was not going to, I should be fine.

Let me know if I am possibly missing something. I can also ask my university, but I'm remote and emails often take a bit to get a response.

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  • as long as i do not copyright my dissertation — If you live in a country that signed the Berne Convention, you can't not copyright your dissertation. By law, you automatically hold the copyright to anything you write. That's why journals have copyright transfer forms. – JeffE Sep 23 '15 at 22:08
  • JeffE, it is an option at my University. You have to fill out a special form and pay a copyright fee. – monniewolf Sep 24 '15 at 4:05
  • No, you have the option to register your copyright. You still own the copyright even if you don't register it; it's just harder to enforce. – JeffE Sep 24 '15 at 19:41
  • Oh, OK. Thanks. That was confusing on the form. I always thought since I was on an assistantship that the University technically owned the research. Clearly, I need to get some clarification on that. The main thing is that it seems fine to basically publish a dissertation chapter as a standalone paper, using essentially unmodified text and figures. – monniewolf Sep 24 '15 at 23:06
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Just to be on the safe side, ask around in your university. I know of places where different departments of the same university have different rules for such things, ie, one accepts if you just slap them together with an introduction/conclusion, other requires that you do some other stuff, while others plainly reject this approach, requiring that you adapt the text into the thesis format...

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  • Well, the grad school just says the exact format is up to the committee, and my committee is happy with an separate Intro and Conclusion, and the chapters that are papers. 1 Chapter is already published, 1 is about to be submitted, and 1 is being written up strictly as a chapter, and will become a paper during my postdoc. Because the grad school just goes with whatever your committee is OK with, getting answers out of them for what is, and what is not, OK can be hard. – monniewolf Sep 24 '15 at 4:07

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