You could ruin your chances of getting tenure if your thesis is freely available. In the Chronicle of Higher Education http: Book editors seem unanimous on that point for obvious reasons.
Many university libraries routinely add dissertations to their electronic holdings. If yours does, then opt out. If your thesis is already online, then have it taken down. At present, this is a disaster waiting to happen rather than a battlefield covered with the bodies of humanists denied tenure because presses would not even look at their manuscripts, but warning signals are going up.
I have heard of two commercial-academic presses and one university press that insisted the dissertation be removed from ProQuest before they would consider it. A job hunter at my school took a chapter from his recently defended dissertation and turned it into an article. He sent it off and the journal wrote back to ask whether this was from a chapter in a thesis on ProQuest; if so, they would not look at it because they considered it already published.
The same could happen to your article or book manuscript. Numerous universities have made putting dissertations on ProQuest a requirement. Others will permit you to block that process and renew the block, at least for a while.
Whenever that protection runs out, though, ProQuest or the library or both will make the piece available. Your university may argue that a state institution receives public money, so part of its mission is to make its research available to that same public.
Fair enough, but you must still try to ensure that your university can and will remove a dissertation from open access if asked. Refusal to create that mechanism could destroy the careers of its humanities PhDs. This may prove to be an issue that dies without much consequence. Not all fields, even within the humanities, operate on the same assumptions, and some people see dissertations cited as a way of boosting your visibility within your specialty.
Presses may eventually decide to ignore ProQuest dissertations and rely on the degree to which you have revised your material. Or they may just settle for your taking the document off line until after your book is in print. Various professional societies have argued that the thesis monograph should not serve as the basis for a tenure decision, and tenure itself may disappear some day. For the present, though, none of these outcomes is assured, and the more radical are not likely to happen soon, so protect yourselves!
Revising a humanities dissertation into a book can take far more effort than you realize. If you are moving from one temporary job to the next, having to pay for moves with nonexistent savings, and teaching six or more new courses each year, you will need to remember and act on successive deadlines despite many distractions.
Ideally, you revise your manuscript during the first two years of your tenure clock. If you are lucky, you land your manuscript at a press within the next four years. Perhaps it will be in print a year after that. Only then should you let your dissertation go on line. The first that comes to mind is that a dissertation is not a book; however brilliant your dissertation is, a publisher will probably want something very different.
A good publisher knows that what they can get out of you 2 years after you complete the dissertation will be a much better product that the dissertation. It has a different sort of quality control to the double-blind reading a publisher will give it, but it still the output of an examination process, and if it is not good enough, then you should not have passed.
The third issue I have is that this is grounded in assumptions about the dissertation-publication-tenure path which no longer hold. The old Phd-published monograph-tenured post track is broken at several points.
Phd output in many disciplines exceeds the pool of academic jobs, so many Phd grads will no longer get academic posts, and many dissertations will never be published. If they are not online, they are dead. Articles are much more serious competition for a book than a pdf on any repository, but they are also some evidence that the person has something to say, so it cuts both ways. Publishers have priced monographs out of the marketplace.
Thanks for the warning although I am long past being able to take it. That said, does this beg the question of whether using publications as criteria for tenure needs to be reconsidered? I agree the system has to change and probably is, as we speak. I just hope, while expectations are in flux, that the tenure casualties are kept to a minimum. This is a really interesting post and discussion and I hope it gets more exposure — although the issue may be being discussed more widely than I realize.
How can one undo this? Oh dear, thsi was a guest post. I know nothing about ProQuest from personal experience. I simply said that Proquest admitted that one could remove something, and the graduate school here proved helpful and helped four students remove theirs. I do not know how Canadian law fits in; where I ran into the most important hurdle was the sense of the grad school that as a semi-public university, our research was supposed to be available to the public. However, given the info on how this could affect publication as a book and given the word I had from another school hammering this out that a press had refused to consider something unless it had been removed from proquest, the grad school at my institution backed off on demanding that.
Thus, the undoing will have to be through the individual school. And ProQuest has thus far honored this for almost three years with no need for renewal. For instance, my current school is now considering requiring graduates to get approval from their former diss advisors in order to extend an embargo. But, aside from degree revocation, what mechanism would even be available to an institution in order to compel a degree-in-hand graduate to allow ProQuest to post the work?
This post makes me sad because when I was in college I loved looking up dissertations on ProQuest. I mean, I get why someone might not want them up there. I agree with Eileen. Having dissertations online allow others to read about the academic work of others in their original, honest form. As someone who has never managed to land a University post despite having good grades and some I hope interesting research. It makes it difficult to research online. Surely it only ends up increasing the gulf of general ignorance, and does little to improve access to whatever the scholar in question laboured to achieve?
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If you are the author of a thesis or dissertation, read more at our authors page. To review theses and dissertations by subject area, try these links, chosen for their wide appeal and timeliness. Of course, you can find documents on .
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