Turning Your Dissertation
Into A Book

Written by Alanna Vitucci

From Doctoral Student To Published Book Author

You’ve spent hundreds of hours and many months writing your dissertation. Now having obtained your degree, it’s only natural to ask what’s next. For many, it’s turning that dissertation into a book.

NCU faculty member Dr. Melanie Shaw’s decision to turn her dissertation into a book was a pragmatic one. “I was looking to increase the number of publications on my curriculum vitae (CV). I had also recently presented my dissertation findings at the International Learning Conference at the University of Illinois,” shares Shaw. “Turning my dissertation into a book seemed like the logical next step.”

Shaw’s research topic was timely. It addressed the impact of alternative certification on teacher shortages.

“As a doctoral student, I was interested in seeing if nontraditional routes to teacher certification resulted in more educators, reducing teacher shortages in subject areas reported as chronically understaffed,” explains Shaw. She found that not only did these programs reduce teacher shortages, but nontraditional teachers stayed in the field longer, and were often from underrepresented groups like males and minorities.

Shaw had previously co-authored a book – Essentials of APA Formatting and Style - with Michael Neal who owned an e-book publishing company, so the prospect of turning her dissertation into a book wasn’t too daunting. In 2009, the publisher, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, released Shaw’s book: Alternative Teacher Certification: A Remedy for Teacher Shortages.

During the process of working on her book, and with the support of Neal, Shaw was inspired to start her own publishing company. “I decided to look into journal publishing; I obtained an ISSN from the Library of Congress and published the first volume of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Collaboration,” explains a still thrilled Shaw.

Dr. Mitchell Morrison, on the other hand, had wanted to write a book for years, ever since finishing his master’s thesis.

“During my oral defense, my dissertation chair and committee asked if I wanted to keep writing in my field, which further piqued my interest in publishing,” explains Morrison. His dissertation was titled Exploring Health Care's Safety Culture Transformation: A Phenomenological Study of Error-Mitigation through Aviation Teamwork.

When considering options for publishing, Morrison looked at both traditional and self-publishing options.

“I submitted my manuscript to a publisher who reviewed it and sent me an offer using a self-published model. The publisher is a small consulting business owner who I had worked with in the past, and I felt comfortable sending him my transcript. Although I had one other firm in mind with lower costs, I went with the more expensive option because of familiarity and trust,” says Morrison.

The theme of Morrison’s book is personal and organizational discovery and change. While the content closely tracks his dissertation, overall, the presentation focus and narrative style differs.

The publishing process has been challenging, but Morrison and his publisher have found a synergy. “The writing itself has always been something I enjoy, and writing in my tone of voice was a nice change,” notes Morrison.