How to Convert Your Dissertation into a Journal Article

Adapting Your Thesis into a Shorter Article

Converting your dissertation into a shorter academic article in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal is a daunting task that is rarely addressed in the realm of academia. 

Many junior academics face challenges when embarking on this process, among them: writer’s block, fear of rejection, and criticism. Familiarize yourself with this important roadmap that outlines how to effectively condense your dissertation into a publishable journal article. You can increase your chances of publication success, as either a novice or seasoned researcher and author, by following these tips below:

Journal identification

First, do a quick self-assessment. Are you fully informed about the specific criteria required to evaluate a scholarly journal’s credibility? It is important to keep in mind that your journal should: 

  • Be peer-reviewed
  • Have a high academic rigor, ranking, and reputation
  • Be indexed in databases that are credible and recognized in the field
  • Be in collaboration with editorial board members who are affiliated with reputable, prestigious academic institutions or universities, and
  • Have a minimum of 30% acceptance rate criteria or below

Shortening your thesis

Having a strong story with a unique and authentic voice is pivotal for a successful academic publication. Check whether you will be able to turn your original extensive research, which undoubtedly embodies an engaging story, into a shorter and to-the-point academic narrative. 

Manuscript reformat

You should have a clear understanding of the differences between a master’s thesis (or a doctoral dissertation) and a journal article in terms of their format, content, and organization. While a dissertation is process-oriented, a journal article is content-oriented. Also, unless advised otherwise by your journal’s format guidelines, your manuscript’s length should generally vary from 3,000 to 5,000 words and your required academic writing manuals should be the most recent edition of the APA writing style (7th edition) or an alternative writing manual recommended to authors by your target journal (e.g., MLA, Chicago, Harvard, etc.).

Adapt your story arc 

The structure of the story in a journal article will be significantly different from that crafted in an academic thesis or a dissertation. For example, keep the literature review section in your journal manuscript relatively brief. When crafting a journal article, focus on the following: 

  • Problem
  • Theoretical/conceptual framework, and
  • Significance and contribution to the field and to the literature.

Your article’s section structure

Develop a clear understanding of how the structure of your journal article should be established. For example, your manuscript should generally comprise three sections. See the specific elements you should include in each part:


  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction and the context of your research
  • Problem statement
  • Research questions (for qualitative studies) or hypotheses (for quantitative research)
  • Study’s significance to the field
  • Conceptual/theoretical framework
  • Review of the literature

Method and Design

  • Setting
  • Population and sample size 
  • Procedures of data collection and analysis (i.e., tools, instruments, and materials to gather, analyze, and synthesize data)
  • Validity, reliability, generalizability, transferability, and replicability


  • Discussions
  • Comparison and contrast with the current body of literature
  • Implications
  • Challenges and limitations
  • Recommendations or directions for future research 
  • Conclusions
  • A-ha moments, lessons learned, messages to take in a to-go box, etc.

Thus, whether a novice or an expert author, always ask yourself if you have a thorough comprehension of how to properly incorporate these essential components of each of the three parts into your academic manuscript. 

Identify your target audience 

Identify who will be reading your work. Do a detailed inquiry of who will benefit from your work, as the goal is for your research to contribute to your field’s literature. Once your target readers are identified, set out to write each part of your journal article accordingly.

Final words

In this blog entry, we have provided you with practical recommendations when setting out to craft your article for publication in a reputable journal. They will guide you in the right direction before, during, and after the writing process. We hope you will find them practical and helpful to get your own unique piece of scholarly work published sooner than anticipated.

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