Turning a piece of marked coursework into a publication

By Dr Jasmine B. MacDonald on November 14, 2023

Recently I sat down with Dr Rachael Fox to reflect on our publishing experiences, both independently and as collaborators. In the process we discussed some tips and tricks for publishing. In last week’s post, I highlighted some info about finding a journal for your paper. In this post, I have drawn out some high-level points about taking a piece of marked coursework, like a dissertation or thesis chapter, and turning into a standalone paper for publication. This isn’t a step-by-step guide. It’s a short prompt post to get you thinking about the difference between writing for markers as compared to readers.

If you want to hear the whole conversation between Rachael and I, you can listen on the Psych Attack podcast website or on your preferred podcast platform (e.g., Spotify or Apple Podcasts).

Dr Rachael Fox is Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology, Charles State University. Rachael’s qualitative research is mostly in the areas of Community Psychology and Critical Psychology. Rachael is one of two editors of the Australian Community Psychologist, an open access journal by the Australia Psychological Society.

When writing for a marker:

When writing for a reader:

For example…

In my thesis, I spent a lot of time explaining things like trauma exposure and diagnostic criteria of various psychological disorders. When developing papers for publication, I removed all that detailed info. I was aiming to publish in journals where the readers know what I mean when I talk about various mood and anxiety disorders, for example.

After publishing my first paper using a certain method, I also just refer back to that paper in subsequent papers submitted to journals for review, rather than re-explaining the whole thing again. This helps save space and establishes some credibility in the method used.

Note: Even though I remove (or seriously cut down) this background and method content from papers I submit to journals, I still mention that I have developed this extra content in the cover letter accompanying my submission. If a reviewer comes back wanting a lot more info on disorders, constructs, or methods then I want the editor to know that this will not require ‘major revisions’. I can make these additions quickly – like on a cooking show, ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’.

Final thought

If your thesis/dissertation or data is publicly available, I suggest letting the editor know in the submission cover letter and describing the nature of the public access and differences between the publicly available coursework and your submitted draft paper.


By Chris Lawton on Unsplash