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Five great tips to start publishing as an undergraduate

how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

If the PhD and masters’ students are the flesh of any university, undergraduates are its laboring bones and joints. They are what forms the supporting structure of the academia. An average undergrad will go through college with a lots of study pressure, exams, assignments and occasional snippet of research for theses. Occasionally, an ambitious undergrad may be work on a nice piece of project or create one of their own research questions that has great implications. This is a good chance for this student to show the world the fruits of their efforts.

In my bachelors, I had an opportunity to work as a research assistant on multiple projects, two of which, resulted in scientific publications with my name as one of the authors. They were neither prestigious articles nor belonged to a high-impact journal but nevertheless, it was an inspiration for me to continue my journey in the academia. I have written this blog to highlight some aspects of publishing whilst being an undergrad student. So, here goes--

Why publish as a bachelor student?

If you are a bachelor student who wants to pursue a career in academia or in a research rich environment, it is generally a good idea to aim for a publication in the course of your undergraduate education. It won’t guarantee you a good postgrad position or a job in prestigious industry but will definitely give you a taste of what it is like to publish and obviously, an opportunity to showcase your work. But it is not a simple job and hence will require a lot of effort on your part in addition to the burdens that you carry being an undergrad student.

What to publish?

This is an important question. Although, the judgements and reputations of a successful academic career seem far off, a publication will be a permanent addition to your resume. Thus, it is very important to be sure of what stuff you should put out there. Generally, undergrad research is a part of a team project or a subproject of a much larger scheme. If you are sure that the work being done is sufficiently because of your individual contribution , it is a good idea to go ahead. You can be a part of a bigger list of authors in an over-arching paper that contains your work. Very rarely, you might do something that entitles you as a sole contributor of a research piece.

When to publish?

This is another important aspect of your decision. The question of directing your attention to working on a publishable manuscript whilst studying full-time for a graduation can be a difficult one. In my case, I spent a better part of last two years of my bachelors struggling with full time courses along with trying to get drafts of manuscript on the paper at the same time. Remember, your studies have the priority over all else while graduating. When you are sure that you have some ‘publishable’ research material available with complete results, then it is a good idea to look into the option for publishing.

Where to publish?

Most commonly, this is a question that your guide or supervisor will give you the best suggestions about. There are very specific domains outlined by journals that you can publish in. Sometimes, however, it can be a good idea to look for specific places where undergraduate research is highlighted. In such journals or magazines, you are reviewed on undergrad standards and not on those of the broader scientific world. Some details of such research journals can be found here . Sometimes though, it is a good idea to aim for a higher journal depending on quality of your research because, if you have a publication in a prestigious journal, it makes your resume more alluring for future prospects.

How to publish?

This is a question that I saved for the last. Let’s start with ‘what is a publication?’. More often than not, it is a report of research work that was done towards a specific goal. The report or research ‘paper’ generally includes description of the goal and gaps in knowledge (introduction), what was done to fill that gap or achieve that goal (methodology), what was the result (results) and the interpretation of the result in existing knowledge along with its future implications (discussion). This research paper will start out as a manuscript that you write and get reviewed from your supervisor, then it gets reviewed by group of other qualified people (either peers or editors of journal, depending on the nature of journal) and then after making necessary alterations, gets accepted to be published. A publication is complete when you have this manuscript printed in the official volume of the journal in question. It is always a good idea to ‘ target a journal’ while preparing the manuscript.  See the figure below for an example of a peer review flow chart. Source: APEM 

how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

We hope this blog will help you make your first steps into the publishing world. Do you want to read more articles by Pranav Kurkani? See his other blog posts How to become a PhD student and First steps in the PhD program . 

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How to write an undergraduate university dissertation

Writing a dissertation is a daunting task, but these tips will help you prepare for all the common challenges students face before deadline day.

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Grace McCabe

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Writing a dissertation is one of the most challenging aspects of university. However, it is the chance for students to demonstrate what they have learned during their degree and to explore a topic in depth.

In this article, we look at 10 top tips for writing a successful dissertation and break down how to write each section of a dissertation in detail.

10 tips for writing an undergraduate dissertation

1. Select an engaging topic Choose a subject that aligns with your interests and allows you to showcase the skills and knowledge you have acquired through your degree.

2. Research your supervisor Undergraduate students will often be assigned a supervisor based on their research specialisms. Do some research on your supervisor and make sure that they align with your dissertation goals.

3. Understand the dissertation structure Familiarise yourself with the structure (introduction, review of existing research, methodology, findings, results and conclusion). This will vary based on your subject.

4. Write a schedule As soon as you have finalised your topic and looked over the deadline, create a rough plan of how much work you have to do and create mini-deadlines along the way to make sure don’t find yourself having to write your entire dissertation in the final few weeks.

5. Determine requirements Ensure that you know which format your dissertation should be presented in. Check the word count and the referencing style.

6. Organise references from the beginning Maintain an alphabetically arranged reference list or bibliography in the designated style as you do your reading. This will make it a lot easier to finalise your references at the end.

7. Create a detailed plan Once you have done your initial research and have an idea of the shape your dissertation will take, write a detailed essay plan outlining your research questions, SMART objectives and dissertation structure.

8. Keep a dissertation journal Track your progress, record your research and your reading, and document challenges. This will be helpful as you discuss your work with your supervisor and organise your notes.

9. Schedule regular check-ins with your supervisor Make sure you stay in touch with your supervisor throughout the process, scheduling regular meetings and keeping good notes so you can update them on your progress.

10. Employ effective proofreading techniques Ask friends and family to help you proofread your work or use different fonts to help make the text look different. This will help you check for missing sections, grammatical mistakes and typos.

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation is a long piece of academic writing or a research project that you have to write as part of your undergraduate university degree.

It’s usually a long essay in which you explore your chosen topic, present your ideas and show that you understand and can apply what you’ve learned during your studies. Informally, the terms “dissertation” and “thesis” are often used interchangeably.

How do I select a dissertation topic?

First, choose a topic that you find interesting. You will be working on your dissertation for several months, so finding a research topic that you are passionate about and that demonstrates your strength in your subject is best. You want your topic to show all the skills you have developed during your degree. It would be a bonus if you can link your work to your chosen career path, but it’s not necessary.

Second, begin by exploring relevant literature in your field, including academic journals, books and articles. This will help you identify gaps in existing knowledge and areas that may need further exploration. You may not be able to think of a truly original piece of research, but it’s always good to know what has already been written about your chosen topic.

Consider the practical aspects of your chosen topic, ensuring that it is possible within the time frame and available resources. Assess the availability of data, research materials and the overall practicality of conducting the research.

When picking a dissertation topic, you also want to try to choose something that adds new ideas or perspectives to what’s already known in your field. As you narrow your focus, remember that a more targeted approach usually leads to a dissertation that’s easier to manage and has a bigger impact. Be ready to change your plans based on feedback and new information you discover during your research.

How to work with your dissertation supervisor?

Your supervisor is there to provide guidance on your chosen topic, direct your research efforts, and offer assistance and suggestions when you have queries. It’s crucial to establish a comfortable and open line of communication with them throughout the process. Their knowledge can greatly benefit your work. Keep them informed about your progress, seek their advice, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

1. Keep them updated Regularly tell your supervisor how your work is going and if you’re having any problems. You can do this through emails, meetings or progress reports.

2. Plan meetings Schedule regular meetings with your supervisor. These can be in person or online. These are your time to discuss your progress and ask for help.

3. Share your writing Give your supervisor parts of your writing or an outline. This helps them see what you’re thinking so they can advise you on how to develop it.

5. Ask specific questions When you need help, ask specific questions instead of general ones. This makes it easier for your supervisor to help you.

6. Listen to feedback Be open to what your supervisor says. If they suggest changes, try to make them. It makes your dissertation better and shows you can work together.

7. Talk about problems If something is hard or you’re worried, talk to your supervisor about it. They can give you advice or tell you where to find help.

8. Take charge Be responsible for your work. Let your supervisor know if your plans change, and don’t wait if you need help urgently.

Remember, talking openly with your supervisor helps you both understand each other better, improves your dissertation and ensures that you get the support you need.

How to write a successful research piece at university How to choose a topic for your dissertation Tips for writing a convincing thesis

How do I plan my dissertation?

It’s important to start with a detailed plan that will serve as your road map throughout the entire process of writing your dissertation. As Jumana Labib, a master’s student at the University of Manchester  studying digital media, culture and society, suggests: “Pace yourself – definitely don’t leave the entire thing for the last few days or weeks.”

Decide what your research question or questions will be for your chosen topic.

Break that down into smaller SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) objectives.

Speak to your supervisor about any overlooked areas.

Create a breakdown of chapters using the structure listed below (for example, a methodology chapter).

Define objectives, key points and evidence for each chapter.

Define your research approach (qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods).

Outline your research methods and analysis techniques.

Develop a timeline with regular moments for review and feedback.

Allocate time for revision, editing and breaks.

Consider any ethical considerations related to your research.

Stay organised and add to your references and bibliography throughout the process.

Remain flexible to possible reviews or changes as you go along.

A well thought-out plan not only makes the writing process more manageable but also increases the likelihood of producing a high-quality piece of research.

How to structure a dissertation?

The structure can depend on your field of study, but this is a rough outline for science and social science dissertations:

Introduce your topic.

Complete a source or literature review.

Describe your research methodology (including the methods for gathering and filtering information, analysis techniques, materials, tools or resources used, limitations of your method, and any considerations of reliability).

Summarise your findings.

Discuss the results and what they mean.

Conclude your point and explain how your work contributes to your field.

On the other hand, humanities and arts dissertations often take the form of an extended essay. This involves constructing an argument or exploring a particular theory or analysis through the analysis of primary and secondary sources. Your essay will be structured through chapters arranged around themes or case studies.

All dissertations include a title page, an abstract and a reference list. Some may also need a table of contents at the beginning. Always check with your university department for its dissertation guidelines, and check with your supervisor as you begin to plan your structure to ensure that you have the right layout.

How long is an undergraduate dissertation?

The length of an undergraduate dissertation can vary depending on the specific guidelines provided by your university and your subject department. However, in many cases, undergraduate dissertations are typically about 8,000 to 12,000 words in length.

“Eat away at it; try to write for at least 30 minutes every day, even if it feels relatively unproductive to you in the moment,” Jumana advises.

How do I add references to my dissertation?

References are the section of your dissertation where you acknowledge the sources you have quoted or referred to in your writing. It’s a way of supporting your ideas, evidencing what research you have used and avoiding plagiarism (claiming someone else’s work as your own), and giving credit to the original authors.

Referencing typically includes in-text citations and a reference list or bibliography with full source details. Different referencing styles exist, such as Harvard, APA and MLA, each favoured in specific fields. Your university will tell you the preferred style.

Using tools and guides provided by universities can make the referencing process more manageable, but be sure they are approved by your university before using any.

How do I write a bibliography or list my references for my dissertation?

The requirement of a bibliography depends on the style of referencing you need to use. Styles such as OSCOLA or Chicago may not require a separate bibliography. In these styles, full source information is often incorporated into footnotes throughout the piece, doing away with the need for a separate bibliography section.

Typically, reference lists or bibliographies are organised alphabetically based on the author’s last name. They usually include essential details about each source, providing a quick overview for readers who want more information. Some styles ask that you include references that you didn’t use in your final piece as they were still a part of the overall research.

It is important to maintain this list as soon as you start your research. As you complete your research, you can add more sources to your bibliography to ensure that you have a comprehensive list throughout the dissertation process.

How to proofread an undergraduate dissertation?

Throughout your dissertation writing, attention to detail will be your greatest asset. The best way to avoid making mistakes is to continuously proofread and edit your work.

Proofreading is a great way to catch any missing sections, grammatical errors or typos. There are many tips to help you proofread:

Ask someone to read your piece and highlight any mistakes they find.

Change the font so you notice any mistakes.

Format your piece as you go, headings and sections will make it easier to spot any problems.

Separate editing and proofreading. Editing is your chance to rewrite sections, add more detail or change any points. Proofreading should be where you get into the final touches, really polish what you have and make sure it’s ready to be submitted.

Stick to your citation style and make sure every resource listed in your dissertation is cited in the reference list or bibliography.

How to write a conclusion for my dissertation?

Writing a dissertation conclusion is your chance to leave the reader impressed by your work.

Start by summarising your findings, highlighting your key points and the outcome of your research. Refer back to the original research question or hypotheses to provide context to your conclusion.

You can then delve into whether you achieved the goals you set at the beginning and reflect on whether your research addressed the topic as expected. Make sure you link your findings to existing literature or sources you have included throughout your work and how your own research could contribute to your field.

Be honest about any limitations or issues you faced during your research and consider any questions that went unanswered that you would consider in the future. Make sure that your conclusion is clear and concise, and sum up the overall impact and importance of your work.

Remember, keep the tone confident and authoritative, avoiding the introduction of new information. This should simply be a summary of everything you have already said throughout the dissertation.

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Copyright for Dissertations

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Preparing for Publication

Norms around publishing dissertation material vary from one field to another. For instance, in some scientific fields, it is common to publish individual chapters from the dissertation before it is submitted. In the humanities, it is common to develop a monograph from the dissertation after completing the graduate degree.

Whether you publish before or after submitting your dissertation, it is important to plan ahead when signing publishing contracts or submitting your dissertation. Will the publishing contract you sign allow you to use the article in your dissertation later? How does depositing your dissertation in Deep Blue impact this? Can you use material that you've coauthored in your dissertation or thesis? For questions about the norms in your field, talk with your advisors. With copyright questions, contact the library copyright office.

If you are about to sign a publishing agreement, consider using the U-M Author's Addenda , which may help you negotiate and keep the rights you need in your work.

From Dissertation to Book

Thinking about transforming your dissertation into your first book? Hardly any dissertations are published as books without significant work on the author's part to refocus the manuscript for an audience beyond the dissertation committee.

Here are a few resources to help you understand the process of reworking a dissertation for publication as a monograph:

how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

  • Dear First-Time Author: How to Turn Your Dissertation Into a Book, by Theresa MacPhail MacPhail shares advice from writing her own first book as well as advice from editors at university presses.

In reading some of the resources listed above, you might encounter discussions of how having your dissertation available online (for example, in  Deep Blue ) could negatively impact a publisher's willingness to look at your manuscript. Some authors assert that you should not put your dissertation online if you hope to sign a publishing contract. However, please note there is very little evidence to support this view. In fact, research has shown that publishers will indeed consider manuscripts that are revised versions of openly-accessible dissertations.

  • Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities? Findings from a 2011 Survey of Academic Publishers, by Ramirez, et al.

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Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation . One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer’s block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s, and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.

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Award-winning undergraduate theses, award-winning master’s theses, award-winning ph.d. dissertations, other interesting articles.

University : University of Pennsylvania Faculty : History Author : Suchait Kahlon Award : 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title : “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807”

University : Columbia University Faculty : History Author : Julien Saint Reiman Award : 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title : “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947

University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith Award:  2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Title:  Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation

University: University of Washington Faculty:  Computer Science & Engineering Author: Nick J. Martindell Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award Title:  DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web

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University:  University of Edinburgh Faculty:  Informatics Author:  Christopher Sipola Award:  2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize Title:  Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Education Author:  Matthew Brillinger Award:  2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Humanities Prize Title:  Educational Park Planning in Berkeley, California, 1965-1968

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty: Social Sciences Author:  Heather Martin Award:  2015 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  An Analysis of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women who have a Developmental Disability

University : University of Ottawa Faculty : Physics Author : Guillaume Thekkadath Award : 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize Title : Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems

University:  London School of Economics Faculty: International Development Author: Lajos Kossuth Award:  2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance Title:  Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction

University : Stanford University Faculty : English Author : Nathan Wainstein Award : 2021 Alden Prize Title : “Unformed Art: Bad Writing in the Modernist Novel”

University : University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty : Molecular and Cellular Biology Author : Nils Pilotte Award : 2021 Byron Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation Title : “Improved Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Helminths”

University:  Utrecht University Faculty:  Linguistics Author:  Hans Rutger Bosker Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize Title:  The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

University: California Institute of Technology Faculty: Physics Author: Michael P. Mendenhall Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons

University:  Stanford University Faculty: Management Science and Engineering Author:  Shayan O. Gharan Award:  Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013 Title:   New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms

University: University of Minnesota Faculty: Chemical Engineering Author: Eric A. Vandre Award:  2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam Faculty: Marketing Author: Ezgi Akpinar Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014 Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission

University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Keith N. Snavely Award:  2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Social Work Author:  Susannah Taylor Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth

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How to Write a Dissertation | A Guide to Structure & Content

A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, submitted as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter).

The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes:

  • An introduction to your topic
  • A literature review that surveys relevant sources
  • An explanation of your methodology
  • An overview of the results of your research
  • A discussion of the results and their implications
  • A conclusion that shows what your research has contributed

Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an argument by analysing primary and secondary sources . Instead of the standard structure outlined here, you might organise your chapters around different themes or case studies.

Other important elements of the dissertation include the title page , abstract , and reference list . If in doubt about how your dissertation should be structured, always check your department’s guidelines and consult with your supervisor.

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Acknowledgements, table of contents, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review / theoretical framework, methodology, reference list.

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation’s title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Many programs have strict requirements for formatting the dissertation title page .

The title page is often used as cover when printing and binding your dissertation .

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The acknowledgements section is usually optional, and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you.

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150-300 words long. You should write it at the very end, when you’ve completed the rest of the dissertation. In the abstract, make sure to:

  • State the main topic and aims of your research
  • Describe the methods you used
  • Summarise the main results
  • State your conclusions

Although the abstract is very short, it’s the first part (and sometimes the only part) of your dissertation that people will read, so it’s important that you get it right. If you’re struggling to write a strong abstract, read our guide on how to write an abstract .

In the table of contents, list all of your chapters and subheadings and their page numbers. The dissertation contents page gives the reader an overview of your structure and helps easily navigate the document.

All parts of your dissertation should be included in the table of contents, including the appendices. You can generate a table of contents automatically in Word.

If you have used a lot of tables and figures in your dissertation, you should itemise them in a numbered list . You can automatically generate this list using the Insert Caption feature in Word.

If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

If you have used a lot of highly specialised terms that will not be familiar to your reader, it might be a good idea to include a glossary . List the terms alphabetically and explain each term with a brief description or definition.

In the introduction, you set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance, and tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving necessary background information to contextualise your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your objectives and research questions , and indicate how you will answer them
  • Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant to your research. By the end, the reader should understand the what , why and how of your research. Not sure how? Read our guide on how to write a dissertation introduction .

Before you start on your research, you should have conducted a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic. This means:

  • Collecting sources (e.g. books and journal articles) and selecting the most relevant ones
  • Critically evaluating and analysing each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g. themes, patterns, conflicts, gaps) to make an overall point

In the dissertation literature review chapter or section, you shouldn’t just summarise existing studies, but develop a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear basis or justification for your own research. For example, it might aim to show how your research:

  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Takes a new theoretical or methodological approach to the topic
  • Proposes a solution to an unresolved problem
  • Advances a theoretical debate
  • Builds on and strengthens existing knowledge with new data

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework , in which you define and analyse the key theories, concepts and models that frame your research. In this section you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables.

The methodology chapter or section describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to assess its validity. You should generally include:

  • The overall approach and type of research (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
  • Your methods of collecting data (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Your methods of analysing data (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
  • Tools and materials you used (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment)
  • A discussion of any obstacles you faced in conducting the research and how you overcame them
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Your aim in the methodology is to accurately report what you did, as well as convincing the reader that this was the best approach to answering your research questions or objectives.

Next, you report the results of your research . You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses, or topics. Only report results that are relevant to your objectives and research questions. In some disciplines, the results section is strictly separated from the discussion, while in others the two are combined.

For example, for qualitative methods like in-depth interviews, the presentation of the data will often be woven together with discussion and analysis, while in quantitative and experimental research, the results should be presented separately before you discuss their meaning. If you’re unsure, consult with your supervisor and look at sample dissertations to find out the best structure for your research.

In the results section it can often be helpful to include tables, graphs and charts. Think carefully about how best to present your data, and don’t include tables or figures that just repeat what you have written  –  they should provide extra information or usefully visualise the results in a way that adds value to your text.

Full versions of your data (such as interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix .

The discussion  is where you explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research questions. Here you should interpret the results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data and discuss any limitations that might have influenced the results.

The discussion should reference other scholarly work to show how your results fit with existing knowledge. You can also make recommendations for future research or practical action.

The dissertation conclusion should concisely answer the main research question, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of your central argument. Wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you did and how you did it. The conclusion often also includes recommendations for research or practice.

In this section, it’s important to show how your findings contribute to knowledge in the field and why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known?

You must include full details of all sources that you have cited in a reference list (sometimes also called a works cited list or bibliography). It’s important to follow a consistent reference style . Each style has strict and specific requirements for how to format your sources in the reference list.

The most common styles used in UK universities are Harvard referencing and Vancouver referencing . Your department will often specify which referencing style you should use – for example, psychology students tend to use APA style , humanities students often use MHRA , and law students always use OSCOLA . M ake sure to check the requirements, and ask your supervisor if you’re unsure.

To save time creating the reference list and make sure your citations are correctly and consistently formatted, you can use our free APA Citation Generator .

Your dissertation itself should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents you have used that do not fit into the main body of your dissertation (such as interview transcripts, survey questions or tables with full figures) can be added as appendices .

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How to Write and Publish Your Research in a Journal

Last Updated: February 26, 2024 Fact Checked

Choosing a Journal

Writing the research paper, editing & revising your paper, submitting your paper, navigating the peer review process, research paper help.

This article was co-authored by Matthew Snipp, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Cheyenne Main . C. Matthew Snipp is the Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also the Director for the Institute for Research in the Social Science’s Secure Data Center. He has been a Research Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has published 3 books and over 70 articles and book chapters on demography, economic development, poverty and unemployment. He is also currently serving on the National Institute of Child Health and Development’s Population Science Subcommittee. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 695,884 times.

Publishing a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal allows you to network with other scholars, get your name and work into circulation, and further refine your ideas and research. Before submitting your paper, make sure it reflects all the work you’ve done and have several people read over it and make comments. Keep reading to learn how you can choose a journal, prepare your work for publication, submit it, and revise it after you get a response back.

Things You Should Know

  • Create a list of journals you’d like to publish your work in and choose one that best aligns with your topic and your desired audience.
  • Prepare your manuscript using the journal’s requirements and ask at least 2 professors or supervisors to review your paper.
  • Write a cover letter that “sells” your manuscript, says how your research adds to your field and explains why you chose the specific journal you’re submitting to.

Step 1 Create a list of journals you’d like to publish your work in.

  • Ask your professors or supervisors for well-respected journals that they’ve had good experiences publishing with and that they read regularly.
  • Many journals also only accept specific formats, so by choosing a journal before you start, you can write your article to their specifications and increase your chances of being accepted.
  • If you’ve already written a paper you’d like to publish, consider whether your research directly relates to a hot topic or area of research in the journals you’re looking into.

Step 2 Look at each journal’s audience, exposure, policies, and procedures.

  • Review the journal’s peer review policies and submission process to see if you’re comfortable creating or adjusting your work according to their standards.
  • Open-access journals can increase your readership because anyone can access them.

Step 1 Craft an effective introduction with a thesis statement.

  • Scientific research papers: Instead of a “thesis,” you might write a “research objective” instead. This is where you state the purpose of your research.
  • “This paper explores how George Washington’s experiences as a young officer may have shaped his views during difficult circumstances as a commanding officer.”
  • “This paper contends that George Washington’s experiences as a young officer on the 1750s Pennsylvania frontier directly impacted his relationship with his Continental Army troops during the harsh winter at Valley Forge.”

Step 2 Write the literature review and the body of your paper.

  • Scientific research papers: Include a “materials and methods” section with the step-by-step process you followed and the materials you used. [5] X Research source
  • Read other research papers in your field to see how they’re written. Their format, writing style, subject matter, and vocabulary can help guide your own paper. [6] X Research source

Step 3 Write your conclusion that ties back to your thesis or research objective.

  • If you’re writing about George Washington’s experiences as a young officer, you might emphasize how this research changes our perspective of the first president of the U.S.
  • Link this section to your thesis or research objective.
  • If you’re writing a paper about ADHD, you might discuss other applications for your research.

Step 4 Write an abstract that describes what your paper is about.

  • Scientific research papers: You might include your research and/or analytical methods, your main findings or results, and the significance or implications of your research.
  • Try to get as many people as you can to read over your abstract and provide feedback before you submit your paper to a journal.

Step 1 Prepare your manuscript according to the journal’s requirements.

  • They might also provide templates to help you structure your manuscript according to their specific guidelines. [11] X Research source

Step 2 Ask 2 colleagues to review your paper and revise it with their notes.

  • Not all journal reviewers will be experts on your specific topic, so a non-expert “outsider’s perspective” can be valuable.

Step 1 Check your sources for plagiarism and identify 5 to 6 keywords.

  • If you have a paper on the purification of wastewater with fungi, you might use both the words “fungi” and “mushrooms.”
  • Use software like iThenticate, Turnitin, or PlagScan to check for similarities between the submitted article and published material available online. [15] X Research source

Step 2 Write a cover letter explaining why you chose their journal.

  • Header: Address the editor who will be reviewing your manuscript by their name, include the date of submission, and the journal you are submitting to.
  • First paragraph: Include the title of your manuscript, the type of paper it is (like review, research, or case study), and the research question you wanted to answer and why.
  • Second paragraph: Explain what was done in your research, your main findings, and why they are significant to your field.
  • Third paragraph: Explain why the journal’s readers would be interested in your work and why your results are important to your field.
  • Conclusion: State the author(s) and any journal requirements that your work complies with (like ethical standards”).
  • “We confirm that this manuscript has not been published elsewhere and is not under consideration by another journal.”
  • “All authors have approved the manuscript and agree with its submission to [insert the name of the target journal].”

Step 3 Submit your article according to the journal’s submission guidelines.

  • Submit your article to only one journal at a time.
  • When submitting online, use your university email account. This connects you with a scholarly institution, which can add credibility to your work.

Step 1 Try not to panic when you get the journal’s initial response.

  • Accept: Only minor adjustments are needed, based on the provided feedback by the reviewers. A first submission will rarely be accepted without any changes needed.
  • Revise and Resubmit: Changes are needed before publication can be considered, but the journal is still very interested in your work.
  • Reject and Resubmit: Extensive revisions are needed. Your work may not be acceptable for this journal, but they might also accept it if significant changes are made.
  • Reject: The paper isn’t and won’t be suitable for this publication, but that doesn’t mean it might not work for another journal.

Step 2 Revise your paper based on the reviewers’ feedback.

  • Try organizing the reviewer comments by how easy it is to address them. That way, you can break your revisions down into more manageable parts.
  • If you disagree with a comment made by a reviewer, try to provide an evidence-based explanation when you resubmit your paper.

Step 3 Resubmit to the same journal or choose another from your list.

  • If you’re resubmitting your paper to the same journal, include a point-by-point response paper that talks about how you addressed all of the reviewers’ comments in your revision. [22] X Research source
  • If you’re not sure which journal to submit to next, you might be able to ask the journal editor which publications they recommend.

how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

Expert Q&A

You might also like.

Develop a Questionnaire for Research

  • If reviewers suspect that your submitted manuscript plagiarizes another work, they may refer to a Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) flowchart to see how to move forward. [23] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

  • ↑ https://www.wiley.com/en-us/network/publishing/research-publishing/choosing-a-journal/6-steps-to-choosing-the-right-journal-for-your-research-infographic
  • ↑ https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13187-020-01751-z
  • ↑ https://libguides.unomaha.edu/c.php?g=100510&p=651627
  • ↑ http://www.canberra.edu.au/library/start-your-research/research_help/publishing-research
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/conclusions
  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/assignments/writing-an-abstract-for-your-research-paper/
  • ↑ https://www.springer.com/gp/authors-editors/book-authors-editors/your-publication-journey/manuscript-preparation
  • ↑ https://apus.libanswers.com/writing/faq/2391
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/library/keyword/search-strategy
  • ↑ https://ifis.libguides.com/journal-publishing-guide/submitting-your-paper
  • ↑ https://www.springer.com/kr/authors-editors/authorandreviewertutorials/submitting-to-a-journal-and-peer-review/cover-letters/10285574
  • ↑ http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep02/publish.aspx
  • ↑ Matthew Snipp, PhD. Research Fellow, U.S. Bureau of the Census. Expert Interview. 26 March 2020.

About This Article

Matthew Snipp, PhD

To publish a research paper, ask a colleague or professor to review your paper and give you feedback. Once you've revised your work, familiarize yourself with different academic journals so that you can choose the publication that best suits your paper. Make sure to look at the "Author's Guide" so you can format your paper according to the guidelines for that publication. Then, submit your paper and don't get discouraged if it is not accepted right away. You may need to revise your paper and try again. To learn about the different responses you might get from journals, see our reviewer's explanation below. Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Scholarly Publishing and Open Access blog

The latest news and answers to your questions about scholarly publishing and open access.

How can I publish an academic article as an undergraduate student?

Choosing where to submit your work as an undergrad.

As a researcher, where you submit will really depend on the details of the submission and where it best fits, as well as where you're likely to be successful at this point in your career. Journals will often consider any original research and will assess it based on the novelty and contribution to the field of research. However, there are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of being successful in getting your work published at this stage.

  • Check out our post on Getting Published: Tips for choosing an academic journal for general suggestions about journal publishing, including where to look for possible journals and options for making your work open access.
  • Check the journals' rejection rates. Journals with very high rejection rates may be more challenging to publish in as a student, simply because they accept fewer articles.
  • Consider whether you can work with a faculty member to co-author the paper that you submit.
  • Do some research to find out where other undergraduate students in your department have been successful in getting published.

Journals dedicated to publishing undergraduate research

More information about undergraduate publishing.

Visit the following resources to learn more about Scholarly Publishing, and contact your liaison librarian or [email protected] for additional support.

  • Scholarly Publishing and Open Access webpages
  • Introduction to Scholarly Publishing at SFU - Canvas Course
  • Attend a Research Commons publishing workshop, such as the Publishing Symposium (while the Research Commons workshops are primarily offered to graduate students, undergraduate students interested in publishing are welcome to attend).

*Don't see an SFU student journal in your discipline? Consider starting one! Visit the SFU Library Digital Publishing webpages and contact [email protected] to learn more.

Contact us : For assistance with scholarly publishing, please contact  [email protected] .

IMAGES

  1. How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis (+ Examples)

    how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

  2. How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation: : Bloomsbury Study Skills

    how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

  3. How to Successfully Publish a Paper From Your Dissertation in an

    how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

  4. How to Write a Good Dissertation: Full Guide for Beginners

    how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

  5. How to write a great undergraduate dissertation

    how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

  6. Researching an undergraduate dissertation

    how to publish an undergraduate dissertation

VIDEO

  1. How to Format

  2. Choosing A Research Topic

  3. Write Your Literature Review FAST

  4. Undergraduate Dissertation

  5. How To Write An Abstract

  6. Dissertation Writing 101: Why You Have To Let Go #shorts

COMMENTS

  1. Five great tips to start publishing as an undergraduate

    Five great tips to start publishing as an undergraduate. If the PhD and masters' students are the flesh of any university, undergraduates are its laboring bones and joints. They are what forms the supporting structure of the academia. An average undergrad will go through college with a lots of study pressure, exams, assignments and occasional ...

  2. How Do I Publish My Dissertation?

    Publishing in a Journal. Academic journals are the most common choice for publishing a dissertation, so it is the most important process to understand. It is important to know which journal best fits your dissertation, become familiar with the journal's guidelines and to carefully interpret feedback on your work.

  3. Publish your dissertation or thesis

    Publishing your undergraduate dissertation or master's research is often the ticket to the next stage of your career. Career aside, being a published academic is a pretty awesome personal ...

  4. How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

    When starting your thesis or dissertation process, one of the first requirements is a research proposal or a prospectus. It describes what or who you want to examine, delving into why, when, where, and how you will do so, stemming from your research question and a relevant topic. The proposal or prospectus stage is crucial for the development ...

  5. How to write an undergraduate university dissertation

    10 tips for writing an undergraduate dissertation. 1. Select an engaging topic. Choose a subject that aligns with your interests and allows you to showcase the skills and knowledge you have acquired through your degree. 2. Research your supervisor. Undergraduate students will often be assigned a supervisor based on their research specialisms.

  6. PDF PUBLISHING YOUR GRADUATE WORK

    Publishing your dissertation or thesis provides you with a legitimate citation for your curriculum vitae and for other scholars who refer to your work. Otherwise, scholarly convention requires that your work be listed as an "unpublished manuscript." Reference to your published dissertation or th esis appears in the world's most widely used

  7. Publishing Your Dissertation

    Norms around publishing dissertation material vary from one field to another. For instance, in some scientific fields, it is common to publish individual chapters from the dissertation before it is submitted. In the humanities, it is common to develop a monograph from the dissertation after completing the graduate degree. ...

  8. how-to-turn-your-dissertation-into-journal-articles

    Below are some of my observations on the process. 1. Plan for it. After you graduate, life is going to take over. You might be changing jobs, moving to a different place/city/country, and these papers might start to slip to the back of your mind. Take some time while your dissertation is still freshly printed, and ask yourself the following ...

  9. Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

    Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples. Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on July 18, 2023. It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation.One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer's block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

  10. Publishing your dissertation

    Editing your dissertation means more than cutting out enough words to fit a journal's page-count. "I can remember when I first thought about publishing my own dissertation," says Gary VandenBos, PhD, APA's publisher. "I was terrified. But the bottom line is, it's just work….It is not an overwhelming and impossible thing if you break it down ...

  11. Adapting a Dissertation or Thesis Into a Journal Article

    Undergraduate students completing advanced research projects may also write senior theses or similar types of papers. Once completed, the dissertation or thesis is often submitted (with modifications) as a manuscript for publication in a scholarly journal. ... When deciding whether to publish the work in your dissertation or thesis, first ...

  12. How to Write a Dissertation

    The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter). The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes: An introduction to your topic. A literature review that surveys relevant sources.

  13. Transforming a Dissertation Chapter into a Published Article

    A first step, as noted above, is to identify the presuppositions or ideas from other chapters you and your committee members bring to this one. A second is to identify the elements of the chapter that tie it to the rest of the dissertation. These elements may be extended passages or allusions to what comes before or after, or, indeed, things ...

  14. Where I can publish my bachelor thesis?

    First, although I would consider any paper in a good journal to be sufficient work for a undergraduate thesis, most undergraduate theses do not rise to the level required of a good journal. (I say "good" here because there are predatory journals and conferences looking for money that will publish almost anything.) Most undergrad theses are ...

  15. Dissertation writing: publishing a dissertation

    Since 2006, Oxbridge Essays has been the UK's leading paid essay-writing and dissertation service. We have helped 10,000s of undergraduate, Masters and PhD students to maximise their grades in essays, dissertations, model-exam answers, applications and other materials. If you would like a free chat about your project with one of our UK staff ...

  16. How to Publish a Research Paper: Your Step-by-Step Guide

    3. Submit your article according to the journal's submission guidelines. Go to the "author's guide" (or similar) on the journal's website to review its submission requirements. Once you are satisfied that your paper meets all of the guidelines, submit the paper through the appropriate channels.

  17. Publishing my undergraduate thesis

    I published part of my undergrad honours thesis in a proper, peer reviewed journal and a class essay in a student journal. It's a great way to experience the publishing process. First, you pick a journal that you think fits well, then you prepare your manuscript to match the guidelines of said journal. You then send the manuscript to the editor ...

  18. PDF Written Dissemination: Turning Your Dissertation into a Journal Article

    Now that we know the main differences between dissertations and journal articles, let's get to the practical side, the tips and tricks to convert your dissertation into a successful journal article! • Try to find ways to divide your dissertation in order to write two or three papers from the findings collected. This is definitely possible!

  19. How can I publish an academic article as an undergraduate student

    Some journals are dedicated to publishing undergraduate research - For example, the Canadian Journal of Undergraduate Research (CJUR) based out of UBC. Student journals are another great option: SFU hosts a number of student journals* run by and for students, and many of these accept undergraduate student work in a particular discipline. The Library's Student Learning Commons also hosts the ...

  20. Is publishing as an undergraduate a thing that really happens?

    It does happen to undergrads who find research internships or in programs where they can do an undergraduate thesis for instance. It's not that rare in some fields, but quite so in other fields. One does need a bit of luck though, as not all project will have reached or can even reach a stage where an undergraduate may contribute enough to ...

  21. is it worth it to publish your bachelor degree's thesis?

    It's just differences between fields that doesn't translate well. Any journal that would publish a bachelor's degree thesis isn't a journal worth being published in. Beware your inexperience-- the Journal of Undergraduate Research is just one example of a legit outlet for excellent undergraduate work.

  22. How to Get Your Dissertation Published in the UK?

    Finally, your dissertation will be published! Depending on the publisher, your dissertation may be published as a book, an e-book, or an article in a journal. Make sure to celebrate this accomplishment and share your work with your colleagues and peers. In conclusion, publishing your dissertation in the UK can be a rewarding and challenging ...

  23. Publishing Undergrad Dissertation

    Usually you would publish a paper based upon the work you did in your dissertation rather than the dissertation itself, as 50+ pages is usually way too much for an article in a journal unless it's one specifically for dissertations e.g. the Undergraduate Award. You'll also need your supervisor to say yes to it as they are a co-author, their name is going to carry a lot more weight than yours ...