Post Academic


Transforming your diss chapter into an article

Picking up on last week’s post on how to work through writer’s block, I thought I’d cover the process of how I have excerpted essay-length pieces out of dense, lengthy dissertation chapters.  In my own case, this process has met with mixed results, so take my advice for what it’s worth: On the one hand, it did culminate in a published article that went through multiple self-imposed revisions, but, on the other, it also yielded an essay submission that was in limbo forever before I decided to give up on it.  Still, even with the latter, I think that the revised essay was an improvement over the original chapter, in part because the writing was much tighter, due to constraints on length as well as the need to find a more focused argument for a proposed article.

""BotCon 2006 Costumes" by Bedford (Public Domain)

Of course, this works from the assumption that you are starting with a big chunk of a diss chapter to begin with and not the other way around, where you start with an essay that you turn into something bigger and better.  So if that’s the way you work, please feel free to chime in and let us know how you go about things!

Be practical: Before you start to look for a coherent essay in the midst of a tangled jumble of a diss chapter–whether in progress or completed–know what the parameters of your end goal should be.  That means figuring out the length requirements for the journal you’re planning on sending a submission to, so that you have a target to aim for.  It’s probably not a bad idea to try to compose a 20-25 page essay out of your source material, since that’s a good length for an article and useful, too, for job application writing samples.  I know from experience that there’s nothing more nervewracking than having to tailor a 30-pp proposed article down to 20-pp essay on the fly when you receive that email from the search committee with a writing sample request.

More conversion tips below the fold… (more…)

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