All universities have their own electronic archives where student theses are published. At some universities, it is optional to publish your thesis, while it is mandatory at other universities. Always check what applies to your particular institution.
There are many advantages to publishing your thesis in an electronic archive. Your thesis will appear in various search engines and library catalogues, and is thus made available for other students and future employers.
As a student, you can sometimes get personal letters from different publishers, offering to publish your thesis as a book. This may seem like a fantastic offer, but you should be very cautious about accepting it, without finding out more about the publisher in question first.
Apart from the information you can find about the publisher by doing a web search and finding out what other people write on their blogs or in social media, there are some things you should consider if you get such an offer.
It is important to establish the fact that the author always has the copyright to his own text. For this reason, it is for you to decide whether you want to publish or not, but it is a good idea to contact your tutor before you decide. There may be a policy or rule at your institution which does not allow publishing elsewhere.
The majority of the publishers who make these offers are so called vanity press or predatory publishers. If you accept their contract, you often assign the rights of copyright to the publisher. The publishers’ business model often involves the authors paying for the publishing themselves. Another model is that the copies are sold at a high price, since the publisher expects to sell very few copies. Those copies that are actually sold must compensate for all those that are not sold, and the author therefore only receives a small share of the possible income. Another thing to consider is that, in most cases, your text does not go through any peer-review, or is even edited, before publishing.
To publish in this manner as a researcher is most unsuitable, since few serious publishers will want to publish any of your future work. To do it as a student is less serious though, unless you want to use your work yourself on another occasion.
Some matters to consider before you accept publishing offers
- Study carefully the information for you as an author, which the publishers enclose their offers, and check if the conditions are acceptable.
- If you have chosen to accept the offer, and the publisher decides to publish your thesis, you will receive a contract for signing. Make sure that the text in the contract agrees with the information you have received before, so that you do not assign more rights than are necessary. Always make sure that you keep the right to publish the document in the electronic archive at your university.
- If you choose to publish in so called vanity press you can not use the same text again, for example to write an academic article.
- Your thesis is/will be published in the archive of your university, which may conflict with the publisher’s terms for publishing your text.
- The visibility of your thesis can hardly be any better than what it already is, as it is searchable and available in full text in the archive of your university.