From thesis to monograph
We don’t publish PhD theses, but we do consider monograph proposals based on PhD research. If you’d like to publish a monograph based on PhD research, it’s important to understand the differences between a thesis and a monograph.
How is a thesis different to a monograph?
The purpose of your thesis was to learn and demonstrate what you had learnt. It was, and still is, evidence of your ability to define a topic, develop and apply methodologies, and undertake research. Your monograph, however, will be evidence of your ability to explore and connect a range of ideas in a fresh way, creating a new perspective that will aim to inform and influence a field of knowledge or discipline.
The audience of your thesis reflected its purpose. It was a predetermined audience and likely comprised of your supervisor and examination panel. The readership of your monograph will be international and considerably broader, potentially consisting of undergraduate and postgraduate students, professional researchers, policymakers and other groups of readers outside the academy.
Rethinking your project
Due to their different purpose and audience, your thesis cannot easily become a monograph. A revised thesis is often still a thesis. This is because the underlying foundations – your presence as the author, your tone and argument – have remained untouched. There may be remnants of the referencing and signposting that made your authorial presence in the thesis difficult to identify, and it may still feel overly formal.
During the rewriting process, you should embed the purpose and intended audience of your monograph into the foundations of the work. Your presence as the author will be stronger, you’ll quote sparingly, and your structure will help you to explore and connect ideas in a logical and comprehensible way.
There’s a wealth of advice available to you on the thesis-to-monograph process, from books written by editors and researchers to your supervisor, examiners and peers. We encourage you to use these resources to help you grasp a clear understanding of how to approach the task. It may be necessary to put your thesis to one side and revisit your research data to decide how you can make the most important contribution to your discipline: What do people need to know? What knowledge can you offer that is most in demand? What future trends can you detect and begin shaping?
- Don’t rush into writing a proposal. Although time may feel in limited supply, it’ll be quicker in the long run to research the thesis-to-monograph process and get your proposal right first time. Otherwise you may get caught in a cycle of rejection.
- Think about your new audience. Picture the group of people you’re writing for and prioritise their needs. Browse recent monographs in your research field. How are they written and structured? How do they read, to you as the reader?
- Note which publishers are publishing books in your field and research their publishing output. Do they publish books in series and, if so, is there a series suitable for you? What is their publishing model, e.g. commercial or open access? Do you have a preference for one or the other?
- Make the most of advice from both inside and outside scholarly circles. Test your ideas on people who aren’t afraid to give honest feedback, and arrange to meet with publishers at conferences in your field – these are great opportunities to practise your pitch.
- Don’t force the issue. If you’re struggling to develop your thesis into a monograph, it may be the case that your thesis is destined to remain a thesis. Consider other options such as breaking it down into journal articles or contributing chapters to edited volumes.