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I have just completed a PhD by research, which I think has some merits in being available as a book (This is, of course, my personal opinion). The research cuts across several fields (e.g. sociology, public policy).

I am wondering what I need to do to take the next step.

In particular:

  1. How do you turn an academic piece like the dissertation (which is written for the examiners) into a book (which is for the general public)?

  2. How do I find publishers who specialise in my field?

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    Have you asked your advisor about this ? Much like "Don't walk. Run", this could serve as a generic answer for so many questions here :) – Suresh Jan 9 '13 at 4:38
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    What are your goals for publishing. Do you want to make money? Do you want it to count towards tenure? Do you want it to educate the general public? Promote your research? – StrongBad Jan 9 '13 at 13:01
  • I want to promote my research to (1) make it widely available and (2) to get some kudos for my CV. Unsure how these two goals could be reconciled. – Javeer Baker Jan 9 '13 at 23:12
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    I mean, a PhD dissertation is written for the examiners (with detailed referencing) but a book to educate the public has a more relaxed and reader-friendly style (i.e. less referencing details etc.). – Javeer Baker Jan 9 '13 at 23:21
  • @JaveerBaker if you start your comments with an @, like I did here, the person will receive a notification. I would say that books for the public don't have a more relaxed referencing style, they just have less detail that needs to be referenced. – StrongBad Jan 10 '13 at 9:22
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Why do you want the book?

  • For prestige?: publishers who contact you, don't do any review and charge high prices will only increase your prestige to those that don't know them (and these are probably not those you want to impress).
  • For dissemination?: why not just put the pdf available (as was already recommended)?. Those who are interested will find it, those who are not will probably not buy a PhD thesis
  • For money?: I doubt you will really make much out of it.

My recommendation: put it as a pdf on your website / your school's dissertation repository. If you see that lot's of people download it, consider an improved version as book.

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    In many disciplines (especially the humanities), it is still obligatory to publish a monograph in order to get a PhD. Although, there is shift to cumulated PhD theses with articles in peer-reviewed journals, sociology, at least in Continental Europe, still values monographs. – non-numeric_argument Aug 14 '13 at 9:50
  • These questions are very important and I suggest they be considered. In my field, a book published by a shady publisher would only make you look worse as an academic. – Behacad Sep 21 '14 at 18:25
  • -1 In my field it is very uncommon not to have one's PhD thesis transformed into and published as a book. It is also quite important to have the book published by a highly-regarded publisher. – henning -- reinstate Monica Jun 19 '15 at 15:25
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Your first question is quite tricky (to answer and to do). It depends on what you mean by "the public". A version for academics needs little change from a thesis. For students you need to consider how to highlight what can be learnt from your work. For the general general public, you'll have to start thinking about rewriting perhaps quite a bit, keeping your language accessible and building a narrative. As I am in a different field, perhaps some or all of this is already a part of your thesis.

The second question is simpler, who publishes the books that you read for your thesis?

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If your university does not require you to publish your dissertation as a book, I would be very reluctant to invest the time needed to get your dissertation published. I would put the PDF of your dissertation on your own website, making it available to everyone who wants to look at it. I would spend the time needed to rewrite your book on writing more peer reviewed articles. Either by publishing chapters from your dissertation, or by doing new research. I think publications are more important than a book, especially for someone like you who still has only a few publications.

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As a partial answer, Springer used to publish (theoretically) outstanding PhD thesis in Mathematics in its 'Lecture notes in Mathematics' as research monograph. However I do not know how many of the published volumes are Phd thesis. Definitely a (math) thesis requires a lot of polishing and rewriting before publishing.

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