Why I decided to publish my Master's thesis
A little over a month ago, I published my Master’s thesis (you can read about it here). Special thanks to the amazing team at ScienceOpen, who made it all possible and painless. I will write about the publishing process another time.
One reason why I wanted to publish my thesis was that, realistically, nobody really cares about thesis grades later on in your career; but a publication gives you credibility. Master’s degrees are relatively common these days, but a publication will help you stand out from other candidates when you apply for jobs. Besides, it shows your future employers that you are hard-working, determined, and dedicated. Because let’s be honest, publishing your work is not typically a walk in the park and it might require a lot of extra work.
Some of you might think you have already put enough time and effort into your thesis, so why go that extra mile? Because this is the kind of commitment employers look for, and it will help you grow in tremendous ways. Publishing your thesis will be the cherry on top of your CV. As of right now, I am not pursuing a PhD, but I also don’t want to close that door as a future possibility. However, if you already know that you want to continue grad school and into academia, a publication speaks for your ability to conduct high quality research.
Another reason was that I really wanted to share my work and contribute to the research community. I started my research knowing that there hadn’t been many other studies that directly related to my topic – the media’s framing of the Supreme Court. This is what piqued my interest in the first place. With that in mind, I thought if someone else is doing similar research, they would be happy to find related articles. But even if your topic is well researched, you never know who might benefit from your work, and you won’t find out unless you publish.
To give you another angle, you worked so hard and spent so much time on writing your thesis, if you do not publish it for others then what will it become? It will be sitting on your shelf (or hard drive) gathering dust. If you decide to publish your thesis, it can be reused by and shared among other researchers and anyone else interested. It will not get dusty, but it will be kept alive. I strongly believe that knowledge only becomes valuable once it is shared with others. Uncommunicated research is like non-existent research because nobody knows about it.
Lastly, I wanted that additional reward of self-satisfaction. I am not going to lie; it feels pretty amazing to say “Hey, I got published!” It is a huge accomplishment, and will boost your confidence to a whole new level! You might wonder about things like, ‘What if peer review shows that I made mistakes?’ or ‘What if others criticize my work?’ Let me tell you, it is absolutely normal to be nervous. But how often did you have to critically engage with research papers and find controversies during your own studies? This is a perfectly natural aspect of the research process and might pave the way for future research and offer a new angle to someone. But above all, you will learn from your mistakes – we all do.
To wrap this up, I can only advise you to do your best to publish your work. Yes, it is not easy, but it is worth it. Personal growth does not come by taking the easy way, it comes from blood, sweat, and tears (and you can take the latter two literally at times). For me, this has been an incredible experience, and I would definitely do it again, given the opportunity.
Note from Lisa: I wrote this blog post two years ago, and have since then decided to step onto the PhD path. I want to encourage students to publish early and emphasize how beneficial this can be.
Lisa Matthias (@l_matthia) is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie University, Berlin. This story was originally published on October 21, 2016, on Lisa’s blog, Where There Is Light (available here) and has been republished here with permission.