Publishing the Great Academic Monograph
New Chronicle article on the same topic: how to turn a dissertation into a book.
Again, good advice in general, but puzzling statements as well. I’m not sure how we can reconcile all these requirements with academic rigor.
Quotes of note:
- “Books are driven by arguments, not by constellations of analytics.” …. I think I agree, but to be honest I have no idea what exactly this means. Is it discouraging an author from evidencing his/her claims with multiple, independent tests? Or is it as simple as counseling authors to avoid jargon?
- “In some ways, your prose style now matters more than your thesis.” …. Because you can use rhetoric and anecdotal impressions to easily hide flaws in logic and evidence. As long as it’s a good read.
- “A book will always have significantly fewer citations than a dissertation.” ….
- “[A Series editor at Cornell UP] suggests that junior scholars put the dissertation away for a few years in order to work on writing articles first, since peer reviews can be invaluable in helping you tease out the arguments for your book.” ….Good advice, unless you’re on the tenure track and a book is the goal in the next five years. And assuming it takes 2+ years to get anything published these days, given how long it takes to get reviews back, and then the likely revise-and-resubmit request. The Cornell editor’s advice is a little confusing when put next to the Illinois editor’s advice previously mentioned about not publishing anything that’s already appeared – not that UP editors are required to agree on everything.
- “Tell a good story first, in other words, and then, once you’ve captured the reader’s interest, only then bring in academic theory. And needless to say, this advice also means that the “literature review” needs to go!” ….You had me up until the “literature review needs to go” bit. It depends on what one means by “literature review”, but I say the historiography stays in the picture. Maybe the call to avoid historiography encourages authors to ignore recent scholarship altogether? Maybe the way the historiography has been written is itself part of your argument? Should Keegan have cut out his first chapter from Face of Battle? Or maybe an author has already been accused of creating a straw man, so you need to establish what other ‘experts’ in the field have said about the subject? Or maybe a reader wants to see how an author has interpreted a historiography, since it’s hardly self-evident. All important reasons to keep the historiography in, to my mind at least.
Maybe it’s a History thing, or maybe my dissertation was really different from most others. I must really be old-school.