Publishing my Thesis

I mentioned in my post yesterday that at some point I would like to publish what I have written. To do this I would need to expand the scope of the work but this is not some that is problematic as there were several areas that due to time and space just had to be left. From my introduction I made these observations as to the limitations of my thesis:

Despite the scope of research undertaken there are several areas that, because of limitations of time and the span of the work, have been avoided due to the focus on operational and tactical issues. First, strategic level discussions surrounding the RAF’s role, in particular the argument that the RAF were not interested due to its desire to prosecute the strategic bomber offensive, though by default this thesis does show that this is not a clear as some historians have argued. Second, it does not explore the importance of radar to JUBILEE as John Campbell in Dieppe Revisited has dealt with this effectively. Research also opened several areas that could not be explored but to the word limit; this included the use of balloons in Combined Operations and the RAF’s participation in providing meteorological advice for Combined Operations. If this work were expanded, it would be envisaged that the scope of archival sources would be increased to include various personal papers at assorted institutions and to expand the German perspective using the Bundesarchiv at Freiburg.

Thus, there are several distinct areas where I could bulk out a work such as this and because of the nature of my thesis I have not really described the air action of Dieppe, this having been done very well by Norman Franks in his work The Greatest Air Battle. However, it would be useful to include more of this to give a feel of the nature of operations during the raid.

However, I feel this is a few years off doing as I intend to start my PhD and so time will be precious. However, for financial reasons I intend to start my PhD in 2010 so in the mean time I have been giving some thought as to what can be effectively ‘cut out’ of my thesis and published as articles. This is a discussion I have already had with my supervisor, Professor Gary Sheffield. We have discussed distilling the key points from the thesis into one article and I feel this is a good idea but the thought of cutting 40,000 words into 10-15,000 sounds a bit daunting but a challenge I will enjoy. I do think that if done right this will add to the scholarship of Dieppe.

Another shorter article I have been thinking of playing with is statistical analysis of the losses suffered at Dieppe. This is one element of my final chapter but I feel that it could be taken further and is useful in explaining the nature of air power during Combined Operations and also disproving the normal arguments about the RAF at Dieppe i.e. they suffer more losses than the Luftwaffe, therefore, they must be bad. This to me is rubbish as offensive forces always suffers more proportionally. It is the nature of offensive warfare. It may well be use to link this to Lanchester’s Laws.

Another article, this time moving away from Dieppe, would be on the RAF and Combined Operations Doctrine. My research has highlighted that the orthodox argument of the RAF being fixated on strategic bombing have little basis in records. Actually recent scholarship, in particular David Ian Hall’s work on tactical air power, has started to show that the RAF views were much more nuanced and complex than hitherto assumed. This is certainly true of Combined Operations and an exploration of the RAF’s view and contribution may well be useful.

Most of these seem doable to me and is one of the reasons for me not starting my PhD as soon as I had planned, though I will be spending my time reading up on Leadership theory. I think, considering that eventually I would like to work in academia, that writing these papers and trying to get them published would be advantageous. I suppose a question for all you academics out there is which is more important; published works or qualifications? It always astounds me when I look at a job and they ask for a PhD but what if you have been published. Does this not count for anything?

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8 responses to “Publishing my Thesis

  1. I get the impression that you need PhD and publications. Usually it’s expected that a PhD will lead to a book of the thesis or at least an article. I’d imagine that if you’ve already published an article before or during your PhD that might give you an advantage over someone who hasn’t published until after, but it’s probably not a substitute for a PhD.

    I found it quite easy to cut my 110,000 word thesis down to a 10,000 word article, but my thesis was very heavy on superfluous details. The main thing is to have a strong and original argument, then just enough evidence to make it convincing.

  2. Gavin that was what I thought. A bit of a shame really as academia may well miss out on some imaginative people who just do not want to write a thesis.

    Personally, I prefer writing articles. I find that they allow me to get to the point quicker but that is just me.

    I get the impression though that it is a recent development probably caused by the number of people starting post-graduate qualifications. It has raised the bar so to say. It is also not helped by the market driven nature of funding from the research boards who want to see PhD’s completed.

    I had an interesting conversion recently at KCL and was quizzed about what I knew about my proposed research area and I politely said is not that what I am supposed to be research. Of course, I have a degree of knowledge on the area but I was talking about a ‘research’ degree. It has all become a bit cyclical, which is a shame. It seems people can’t do research for research’s sake and that there must be some objectives linked to it.

  3. I think Gavin is correct. Articles are great to have on your CV, but they can’t be used as a substitute for a PhD.

  4. Just echoing the consensus here, based on my understanding. A PhD is a minimum, publications are not a substitute but help distinguish you from those with ‘just’ a PhD (the bar keeps getting higher all the time!) My thesis has generated a couple of papers from chapters and another paper tangentially (only one accepted so far), and I’m (intermittently) working on a book proposal … If you can get a paper from your MA that would be an excellent outcome, good experience and good for your CV.

  5. Cheers for the replies guys. I think my frustration is why has the bar changed so much. The reality is it doesn’t really bother me as I want my PhD anyway but I am just curious at the moment. I mean many years a go the minimum for teaching was to have a qualification one level above that which you planned to teach. The other annoying factor is that this is not consistent. My ex is a Media lecturer and to teach this at university level you can get away with an Masters. Why is there no consitency?

  6. I think having a PhD shows that you have been well trained and versed in the large swath of material you will need in order to have an impact on academia. At least I believe that is the case for History.

  7. Robert I agree with that but doesn’t a research MPhil do the same thing? Playing devils advocate I also think the problem here in the UK stems from government policy for education. The belief that a certain % of pupils should do ‘A’ Levels and then a certain % should go on to undergraduate has raised the bar though not for the better. It has devalued the undergraduate degree and this has led to those of use who want to mark ourself out in the market to do postgraduate. This has then led to a raising of the requirement for some jobs i.e. PhD for lecturing. This in my mind is not a positive as I know some 16-18 year old students who should not be going to university but do because we are encouraged by the government to make them.

  8. Pingback: The end and a few changes… « Thoughts on Military History·

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