Taking The Plunge: Turning A Thesis Into An Academic Article -- By: William R. Domeris

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 15:1 (Mar 2013)
Article: Taking The Plunge: Turning A Thesis Into An Academic Article
Author: William R. Domeris

Taking The Plunge: Turning A Thesis Into An Academic Article

William R. Domeris1

1. The Essence Of An Article

The expression ‘publish or perish’ has never been truer for one’s academic career than it is today. This is little consolation for the would-be academics who have yet to publish their first academic article. So, mindful of the challenges, I offer this article as an encouragement to such scholars. Since this is a personal reflection, and not an attempt at a definitive work on the subject, I will use examples drawn from my own writings.

Academic articles need creative time. This may be very difficult, if you have a full teaching and administrative load, as young academics often have. Nevertheless, for the sake of your academic survival, you need to carve out a space where you can sit and reflect, write notes and eventually produce a fine piece of academia. So, take your diary and mark off a regular time of at least four hours per week, and guard it with your life. For every hour you spend actually writing the piece, you need about ten hours of thinking and reflecting, not counting the time spent reading and researching. That creative reflection, in my experience, is what turns a mediocre article into a good piece of academic writing.

What is an article? Or better still, what is the essence of a good academic article? Very few articles (less than two per cent, I believe) are ever quoted. When I consider those articles which I have read and which have been cited again and again by scholars, several facts stand out. The articles are often quite short (fewer than ten pages), with a single focus, well-argued, and they are original or they represent an original survey of existing academic writing on a narrow topic. Certainly, that has been true of my articles which have been cited. But for your first article, it is enough if it is well-argued and properly set out.

So, step one, examine your thesis for a potential article—an exercise which needs to be done within your creative space. God has given you the ability to write a thesis, and I am quite sure, his intention is not for it to spend all its days on a dusty shelf. Use your God-given ability to bring your ideas into the public domain.

2. Finding The Needle In The Haystack

The first and most critical moment in the birthing of an article is deciding what its major contribution will be. This can feel a bit like searching for the venerable needle in a haystack, especially if it is your thesis which you are perusing. It took me some time before ...

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