Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 December 2010
Within the unwieldy cocoon…there is a small, exquisite butterfly of a book struggling to emerge.The New York Times Book Review
In the humanities and some social sciences, a monograph is required for tenure. The wisdom of this rule is being questioned, most notably by the Modern Language Association (MLA). It seems likely, however, that the requirement will remain in place for some time in disciplines other than literature, and even within the MLA's domain it will not vanish overnight. In these fields, a scholar's first book usually originates in the dissertation, but the book is likely to look very different from the thesis.
From the publisher's point of view, an unrevised (or thinly disguised) dissertation is not a good investment. Dissertations are available online, individually or by subscription, from University Microfilms International (UMI). Academic libraries, the main purchasers of scholarly monographs, subscribe to UMI's service, so their patrons already have access to dissertations. The libraries have no interest in paying twice for the same content. From the reader's point of view, reading an unrevised dissertation is an inefficient way to learn: There is too much extraneous material in the way. From the author's point of view – despite the appeal of quick, effortless publication – the dissertation is probably not the best way to present one's knowledge, creativity, and writing talent to the world at large. For all these reasons, it is wise to put a good deal of effort into revising your dissertation.