Graduate Research School

Thesis as a series of papers

 

Further Information

Thesis as papers [PPT, 501.5 KB]
Updated 17 Jul 2008


Thesis as papers [PDF, 115.8 KB]
Updated 19 Aug 2010


Many candidates organise their thesis as a series of papers.

These may be papers that have been published, manuscripts that have been submitted for publication but not yet accepted, manuscripts that could be submitted, or any combination of these.

There are several advantages to organising a thesis in this way:

  • It resolves the conflict between preparing the thesis for examination and preparing papers for publication, because they amount to the same thing. You need not feel that when you are spending time on your papers you are running out of time to prepare your thesis.
  • It increases the probability that you will publish the work from your thesis. This is not only to your advantage, but also that of your supervisor(s) and the University.
  • If you have reviewers' comments on your papers before submitting your thesis, you can use this feedback to improve your thesis. This is not only good for the quality of your thesis but also for your confidence. By the time you submit the thesis for examination, at least part of it will have been subjected to the scrutiny of experts other than you and your supervisor(s). 
  • Having part of the work published prior to examination establishes it as worthy of publication, which is one of the criteria for thesis examination. The larger the proportion that is published, the easier it is for your examiners and the Board of the Graduate Research School to recognise that your work is substantial and of value.
  1. Link chapters
  2. List publications
  3. Submission

It is very important that you remember that a thesis is more than a collection of papers. Essentially, the chapters of the thesis can stand alone, but the thesis is a complete and coherent "story", in which each chapter is an integral part. The chapters must be in a logical order and strongly linked together.

When presenting a thesis as a collection of papers it is easy to make the error of allowing the thesis to become disjointed. This will stand against it, as a thesis is not the same as a body of work. Sometimes, students who submit theses as a series of published papers introduce each new chapter with a foreword which introduces the chapter and establishes its links to previous chapters. More conventionally, this is in the introduction to each chapter. The chapters should contain references to each other, much as in a published article you would cite other references.

If some or all of the chapters have been published with different fonts and formats, the formatting in the thesis may be made uniform so that the thesis as a whole has a professional appearance. Alternatively the work that has been published may be presented in the format in which it was published.

In general, every thesis should include a:

  • General introduction which sets out the context of the thesis and explains the organisation and structure of the thesis; and
  • General discussion which draws together the main findings of the thesis in the context of previous research, and establishes the significance of the work.

These chapters frame the internal chapters and assist in establishing the thesis as a coherent whole (see the guidelines for thesis preparation). You should include a section at the front of the thesis entitled "Publications arising from this thesis" (or similar words), where you list the published and submitted papers that have arisen from the work in the thesis.  After each publication in the list, cite which part of the thesis it represents, as below.

Back to top

List publications

You should include a section at the front of the thesis entitled "Publications arising from this thesis" (or similar words), where you list the published and submitted papers that have arisen from the work in the thesis. 

After each publication in the list, cite which part of the thesis it represents, as below.

Example entry 

Publications arising from this thesis

  • Student and Teacher (2003) Effect of number of published papers on pass rate of PhD theses Journal of Higher Education 22, 23-33 (Chapter 2 and part of Chapter 3)
  • Student, Faithful and Silley (2003) Influence of font size on pass rates of PhD theses Journal of Higher Education 22, 34-45 (Chapter 6)

Back to top

Submission

You will also need to complete a "thesis declaration" as part of the process of thesis submission.

The examiners and the Board of the Graduate Research School will then be able to see clearly what has been published.  Where papers included in your thesis have multiple authors, it is important that you indicate very clearly which portions of the paper/s are your work, and which are the work of your co-authors.

You are also required to obtain the signed approval of your co-authors to include the work in your thesis.

Back to top