Thesis by Publication or Monograph: A Case for Monograph

Last week, Chris made the argument for the Thesis by Publication route. Today, I want to talk about why I decided to do a monograph.

My PhD continued the research from my Masters degree

The research I had done in my Masters of Research degree was the beginning of a big project. I was developing a self-report scale which required several studies to create. The two studies I had conducted were the beginning of that research program and I couldn’t publish the work without further studies. So, it didn’t make sense to me to write up the studies in my PhD as publications when the actual publication would include studies from a different degree. Also, it would be weird to constantly cite an unpublished thesis as setting the groundwork for a PhD (if I were to do a thesis by publication).

Flexing my writing skills

Writing a publication is a different skill from writing a thesis. Publications are much more concise and don’t have the same scope to dive deep into a topic. I ended up writing a paper that contained 5 studies (two from my masters and three from my PhD) and publishing that. Writing up 5 studies in a 10,000 word limit was agonising and if I were to put it in my thesis, that would only be one of the three papers I would need (as opposed to the three chapters it ended up being). So writing my PhD as a monograph allowed me to dive deeper and explain the process.

By some twist of fate, one of the people who blindly peer reviewed my paper prior to publication also ended up being one of my thesis examiners. In their report on my thesis they explained how they really enjoyed seeing a more in-depth explanation of the process of creating this scale. So, at the end of my PhD process I had not only written a paper but also a monograph and it gave me an appreciation of both styles.

Avoiding Repetition

One issue with the Thesis by Publication route is the amount of repetition that can occur (especially if each paper is essentially a small extension of the previous work). I wanted to avoid this repetition and I could easily do that by referring the reader to concepts covered in previous chapters.

So, the factors that influenced my decision to go down the monograph route were

  • The research my PhD was based on wasn’t published yet and needed to be published along with the studies from my PhD
  • The studies would all be similar and tell a story that would work better in a “book” vs. a series of papers
  • I still wanted to write papers, but I could easily adapt chapters from my thesis, cut them down, and publish them anyway
  • It was my only chance to really “write a book”. The PhD is a special time and your only chance to really dive deep into a topic and try and become an expert on it. Should you go down the academia route, anything you write thereafter will be heavily focused on publications.

So, have I convinced you to write a monograph yet? Or are you still on the thesis by publication train?

– Alessa

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