Thoughts and Advice on Choosing a Thesis Monograph Series

At a departmental function this weekend I had a nice chat with a scholar I trust.  I asked him which monograph series he encourages his own doctoral students to publish in.  He had recommended specifically Walter de Gruyter and Mohr Siebeck.  I had asked him why he did not mention the UK publishers.  He commented that a well-known UK series has a policy that they want short 80,000 word manscripts, following the trend of some universities which have set their max word limit at 80K for theses.  Since Durham is still at a 100,000 max limit, it would be difficult (though not impossible) to cut it down to their liking for publication.  This is something significant that I had never thought about before.

I had mentioned that it seemed like Mohr Siebeck did not seem like a really exclusive series since they seemed to put out so many volumes per year.  He mentioned that they have revamped a bit and now are much stricter.
Though there are many factors to consider, these are a couple worth noting.  Also, I heard that if you are interested in doing a post-doc in Germany, it helps to publish your thesis in a German series – this may just be a rumor, but it does make some sense.

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10 thoughts on “Thoughts and Advice on Choosing a Thesis Monograph Series

  1. Hi Nijay. My guess is that you are talking about the Library of New Testament Studies here. We introduced the recommended 80,000 word limit about three years ago for both academic and publishing reasons. On the publishing side, it makes it possible to price the volumes more reasonably, which in the end benefits the author because the book is more affordable. On the academic side, in my experience with editing the series, I have not yet seen a 100,000 word manuscript that would not improve by getting cut by 20%. What often happens with the doctoral theses is that when they are accepted for publication they can be still very “thesis”y, with superfluous and unnecessary materials. The act of revising to a reasonable length always, in my opinion, improves the quality of these manuscripts. Cheers, Mark

  2. Mark,
    Thank you for this response. Actually, my professor friend was not referring directly to the LNTS series, but your advice is very useful.

    Pat,
    I have thought about this before and I guess it depends on what your goals are for the published life of the book. Some are looking to publish in a very well respected series (like SNTSMS) and are not as concerned about selling more widely or in higher numbers. Some students have published their thesis in a monograph form (like with WUNT II) and then also published a more popular version. This is another way to go. For theses, I think it is important to go with a very reputable series for the sake of getting more scholarly attention and ensuring that your thesis is reviewed by experts at the acceptance stage.

  3. That sounds like good advice, Nijay. I have a friend who is an editor at Wipf & Stock, so that’s what made me think of it. I also know that the dissertation of my advisor (Scott Bartchy) was republished by Wipf & Stock a few years ago. I like the idea of the one-two punch of a monograph, then a more popular version. While I want to push ahead in scholarship, I also want to remain accessible to interested non-academics.

  4. My advice for what it is worth:
    a) get up-to-date factual information from the publisher/editor for the top six series you are considering – based on your own reading experience with the books (don’t rely on rumours they are not always correct);
    b) have some idea of all the relevant factors: how long will it take; who does the copy-editing; how much revision; academic prestige; world-wide marketing; royalties; price; acceptance rates/probability; similar interests; how do they want it delivered, etc. etc.
    c) talk to a recent author about the pros and cons of their experience with your top publishers (recent authors probably know more than even senior professorial friends about experiencing the process)
    d) do what your supervisor says

  5. Pat is right and wrong. Pickwick Publications is the imprint of Wipf & Stock that publishes a good many fine dissertations, but it is not “theological” over “biblical.” We publish theology, biblical studies, ethics, and much more. Pickwick tends to be headier than titles in our Cascade imprint, and therefore, dissertations that find their way into Pickwick, be it in one of a handful of series or as a stand-alone, do not require as much revision. We have published some revised dissertations in Cascade, but on the whole Cascade tends to publish titles with broader appeal than dissertations and monographs.

    I’d love to chat with any of the readers here who are lookng to publish, whether dissertations or other.

    Peace,
    Chris Spinks
    Editor, Wipf & Stock Publishers
    chris@wipfandstock.com
    541-344-1528

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