Writing a dissertation vs. writing an academic monograph

What I really like about the chance to rewrite my German doctoral thesis as an English academic monograph is the possibility to re-structure the book, and to make it about the reader (hopefully, some people will read it…). When I started the PhD journey, I took my time researching and later on, writing and researching. While writing, new problems turned up, details were unclear (to me), and more research and more reading needed to be done. In the end, the German dissertation shows this thought process, no matter how many times I edited. I can still tell which parts I wrote first, and where I already found out where this writing is going. Maybe you can see this as well when reading the German (Open Access) version.
First of all, there were the usual expectations to a doctoral thesis on an extensive literature and methodology review, detailed source interpretation, and broad contextualising (incl. to place the own research in research fields which turned out to be not that relevant for my work). I am grateful that I spend quite a lot of time on this, and especially on the introduction where I summed up relevant research on the vast field of “Herrschaft” (authority, rule, government, power…) and political history (incl. political thought or history of ideas) and really dug deep to also form my own understanding of power, authority, and rule in the early modern period. This time and research investment has certainly paid off, and parts of this text has been re-used and re-written for several book chapters, journal articles, and grant applications. It will certainly find its way into the English monograph as well, just in a very reduced way and much more concentrated on my main arguments.
Second, the extensive research on my ten case studies (eight monarchs deposed in ten realms, or even twelve realms if you count Christian II in Norway, and James II in Ireland as own case studies – which I didn’t) will be cut. And I mean, going from Rapunzel to Skin (Skunk Anasie). In word counts, going from about 100.000 words to about 15.000. This is actually the chapter I am working on right now, and so far it’s going well (maybe, I’ll need to go up to 20.000 – let’s see if I can squeeze Charles I into 2,000 words, or if he will be obstinate, as he usually is). There is a simple reason behind this: the case studies were needed as my data, but they are not the focus themselves. Here, the thinking-writing-researching was especially prominent: I had to find many, many, many details how each deposition worked, what was said, who said and did what, what were the problems, what were reactions and unexpected events, and so on. But basically, I did not add much to already existing research on each case study (a bit, because a comparative view actually shows patterns not visible when only looking at one example). The real new addition to research of my thesis is the comparison and the analysis of deposition events in more general, e.g. I could identify several phases of how deposition needed to be concluded (and I’ve seen these phases repeated in the recent depositions in South Korea and Brazil). Identifying such phases, identifying several actor groups needed, and identifying several recurring legitimation strategies was my main scholar work. The details of all case studies are just the raw data from which I drew these insights. In the doctoral dissertation, this raw data needed to be presented, including the extensive research discussion for each case study (think, Mary Stuart and Charles I). In the academic monograph, this will be reduced to the most important insights as well as to a very short presentation of the history of events. Of course, more details from each deposition will also be mentioned in the rest of the book (as they were in the rest of the dissertation) – I don’t want to write a completely abstract book, and try to “show, not tell” as often as reasonably possible and sensible.
At the moment, these are the main differences between a (German) dissertation and an academic monograph – less methodology and research context,and less presentation of raw data. Let’s see if I encounter more important differences later on. I’ll keep you posted!

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht.

Diese Website verwendet Akismet, um Spam zu reduzieren. Erfahre mehr darüber, wie deine Kommentardaten verarbeitet werden.