I've just received an offer to write a chapter for a book that will be published with an important publisher. I was about to say yes, because the topic fits with my dissertation topic and I thought I could use it for my paper-based dissertation, but a colleague told me that a chapter in a book may not be considered for a paper-based dissertation. What was your experience? Do you know anything about it?

Update: Finally my Uni will accept a book chapter as part of my paper-based dissertation. I had to argue that even though it was a book and not a journal, the chapter (actually the whole book) will be reviewed by at least two reviewers. Thanks for your answers!

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    What do you mean by "paper-based dissertation"? Feb 11, 2016 at 10:44
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    The only regulations that count here are your own institution's - there are no universal laws. If they don't have clearly stated regulations on it you'll need to find out what they would say if the question came up... which means you'll probably have to ask them either way. Feb 11, 2016 at 12:26
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    What did your advisor say when you asked them this question? (You did ask your advisor, didn't you?)
    – JeffE
    Feb 11, 2016 at 12:47
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    My supervisor said "I do not know if a book chapter could be used for your dissertation. We should find out if someone did it before." The thing is that regulations in my uni are very general. They say "publications" without mentioning if papers should be in a journal or not, not even if they have to be peer-reviewed. It is taken for granted that the "normal way" is to have your papers published in a good journal, but I wanted to ask if someone got a book chapter accepted as part of the dissertation in order to have an useful example of a university that accepts this kind of publication.
    – Ophelia
    Feb 11, 2016 at 14:27
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    @Ophelia: I see now. I have no advice from experience on this, but, from the comments and answers above and below, it seems that you have enough flexibility in choosing the dissertation-counting publication type. I would say that, since your advisor is not against it, your university's rules do not prevent this option and you have a nice offer from a solid publisher, you might as well go ahead and choose the book chapter route. Regardless of what you will decide, I wish you good luck and smooth sailing in the program and beyond :-). Feb 11, 2016 at 18:58

3 Answers 3


While regulations may differ from place to place, I find it highly unsurprising that a book chapter would not "count" for a paper-based dissertation. The reason is that book chapters are typically peer reviewed lightly, if at all.

As such, if your dissertation requirement is effectively "N peer-reviewed papers," then this book chapter is highly unlikely to be peer-reviewed in a manner consistent with the expectations of the university. Just in the same way, your professors would probably not count a paper in a predatory journal as helping to meet your dissertation requirements.

Note, however, that this doesn't mean you should not write the chapter, if it is a good publisher and a work you would like to create. Book chapters can be a good way to organize your thoughts and put together reviews, and in some cases can actually be quite highly cited. Likewise, the text from the chapter may turn out to be useful as part of your dissertation (depending on university regulations about copyright and theses, of course). It's just that it's probably not a peer-reviewed publication and will thus likely not count toward the number of such that you need for your dissertation.


As the other answers say, the definitive source has to be your university, but...

I can imagine that a book chapter may not count towards the number of papers, because book chapters do not necessarily include original research, but may just be a review of existing literature. In other words, you might write a review paper that makes a perfect book chapter, but that you would have trouble publishing in a good journal, because it doesn't contain enough original research.

I think that the rationale for "staple theses" is that someone has done enough original research to be awarded a PhD, and for this papers are a much better indicator than book chapters.


Such rules differ from university to university and department to department. So you need to ask the persons responsible for determining whether or not you fulfilled the requirements.

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