Free publishing?

27 September 2011

Recently, I have been questioned by different young scholars who have been offered free publication of their recently completed PhD thesis. According to some commentators, this is at best vanity publishing, at worst a scam.

But what if the approach is legitimate? Should you then accept the offer?

Really, it depends on several things.

If you are looking to have an academic career, then the material in your thesis should not be wasted. There are years of work here that can be mined for articles and/or reworked into a monograph, thus giving your career a kick-start. Whatever you do, don’t shoot your chances in the foot by doing something that looks bad on your CV – like a vanity publication, for instance.

However, it may be that your thesis is of the unpublishable sort, so narrow in its scope that maybe only five readers around the world will be interested to go beyond page 2. If that is the case (and you have the time and money), then you might just enjoy seeing your thesis appear in book form.

Just two things to remember:

  • It might look like a book but don’t be deluded; a thesis is not a book.
  • Enjoy the ‘book’ on your shelf but keep it out of your CV.