Thesis Chapters and Publications


Can anyone please help in clarifying how publications fit into thesis? My PhD is in the sciences. My sup says that the publication can obviously go in the thesis but needs to be different to how it appears in the journal. I am just having trouble understanding how to differentiate the two., and would appreciate any advice anyone could offer on this. Does the thesis chapter just need to be a bit more detailed, with additional supplementary info etc?

Thank you

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It has to be pretty dissimilar in order to avoid self-plagarism.


My PhD was also in the Sciences. I have one paper published so far. The data in my thesis is exactly the same as the data in the paper, but it's spread over different chapters in the thesis. Some of the intro and discussion is identical to that in the thesis, and my uni said this was fine. If your uni says this is plagiarism, then just keep the data the same and reword all the other sections of the paper.

So in essence, yes, the thesis is more detailed, and it's also more chronological, telling a story, whereas the paper is more 'here are the facts'. For example, in the thesis I would have things like PCR gel images, maybe sequencing results, more explanation of what things are, I would explain difficulties I encountered, whereas in the paper it shows the final result.

I put a copy of the paper in an appendix of my thesis.


Unless you are doing a thesis by publication, which is a collection of journal papers. I know many people who did their PhD that way (in the ecological/biological sciences). If not, more detail in the thesis than a paper.


Anyone got experience with this in a qualitative/humanities thesis?

And if your thesis comes first then you whittle chapters down to publication standard and length does the burden of what is and isn't self-plagarisation change?


Hi Hunt,

It varies depending on your country's institution's rules. I did my social science PhD in Australia which was qualitative. My thesis is NOT considered a publication unless I actively publish it. With my university, I am able to publish out of my thesis, and am strongly encouraged to do so.

I had a publication published prior to my PhD, based on my PhD data. I used this publication back into my thesis.

I'm in the process of whittling down my chapters to stand-alone publications. Depending on your thesis, this can be easy or difficult. It's difficult for me as my thesis was quite thematic and narrative, so chapters depended on each other, thus becoming difficult to publish as stand alone papers.


Thank you all for your replies. The difficulty I have is that I am writing my thesis in the form of 3/4 scientific papers, plus the introduction and conclusion chapters. As one paper has been published, should I just rewrite this chapter/add in more supp information etc? For the remaining chapters, am I better off not submitting these as papers before I finish on the off chance they get accepted, to avoid further problems re self plagiarism?! Thank you


I see, it's quite different in your case then. I don't think you would have an issue with plagiarism, because surely the whole point of a thesis like that is to avoid you having to write the same thing twice? I think you need to check with your supervisor, other students in your dept and your university guidelines.