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12/02/2020

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Peter

I think a lot of it depends on the purpose for which these people are asking for a copy of the dissertation. But I still think that there's no real reason to post it, and you don't gain anything by doing so.

If they're asking to see it because they work on the same area, like your work, and want to see more of it, then you can just say, "I'm refining XYZ idea in the dissertation into a paper. Would you like to see that paper instead?"

Or, if they're asking because of idle curiosity, you can just say, "I'd prefer not to make my dissertation publicly available while I prepare the chapters for blind review." It's easy enough to imagine that posting one's dissertation might make it easy to identify oneself as a paper's author in a blind review process, so I can't imagine anyone would feel slighted by this.

I also don't understand why anyone would care to read a dissertation, anyway. In my view, which not everyone may have, dissertations are pretty much functional objects which exist only to provide (1) publications and (2) evidence of a sustained research agenda. Even for people for whom the dissertation is a more intrinsically valuable than this, it should still seem totally sensible to not post the dissertation online and instead focus on circulating drafts of manuscripts to interested parties instead.

Thesis

I think one should NOT published or post their dissertation on line. They should revise pieces and publish them in journals. And one does not want weak versions of their publications floating around. That will not do you any good. Further, you are entitled to have the time to revise your decisions, and thus protect your claim to your original ideas until they are worked out in a publishable (and published) form. I cannot see what someone gains from making their dissertation public. And, like Marcus, I can see potential losses.

Sebastian Lutz

I uploaded my dissertation to the PhilSci Archive immediately after I defended, and it has had no negative effects that I know of. Rather, I could cite it when I needed to refer to results that I hadn't yet published elsewhere, and I got contacted by another philosopher who was about to give a talk on an idea very similar to one in one of my chapters, so I got a citation out of it, too.

Many of my later published papers are elaborations of ideas in my thesis, often with substantial textual overlap, and I never had any problems with this, either.

My case might be atypical, of course.

Daniel Weltman

I think mine was posted online automatically, or at least I don't remember having made a choice. I don't think it has harmed me in any way but it's hard to know. People download it (four times last month, for instance) and I know at least one layperson read it (since they were interested in the topic) so that is kind of fun. I never bother to read dissertations beyond perhaps skimming them very quickly, but they do show up in Google Scholar and if someone's dissertation pops up and it looks interesting, that puts them on my radar. And I think it's good to be on people's radar. So I'd recommend it.

historygrrrl

IMO, it's completely your call.

I never posted my dissertation online; I figured that whatever I eventually published would be much better, and if anybody really wanted to get their hands on it, they could get it from ProQuest or by e-mailing me. I considered my dissertation to be decent but subpar work, and would rather have people engage with more developed contributions.

That said, I have cited several dissertations in some of my published work. It's perhaps more common in my area in the history of philosophy; but sometimes, students will write on one thing, come up with some good ideas, but move on and never quite come back to some of the dissertation content.

Andy

I was under the impression that most dissertations are already published online by the relevant universities? I know mine is, and I have usually been able to find other people's dissertations when I have wanted to.

I don't see why poaching would be any more an issue than it is for posting one's actual published work online. Dissertations are official research outputs even if they don't go through a publishing house. Indeed, by promoting your dissertation and increasing visibility I think you probably decrease the possibility of someone plagiarizing your work, as attempted plagiarism would be more easily caught.

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