In December 2002, I finished my doctoral thesis. And now that it is June 2006, I am finally going to get around to publishing it.
While my dissertation was printed out on nice, expensive paper and is safely enshrined in the library at the University of California, Santa Cruz, it is difficult for other astronomers to access it. Since one of the main points of science is to disseminate what we learn, it is considered good form to publish papers based on your thesis in a professional journal.
These days, it is quite common for a student to publish papers before she finishes her thesis. In this case, the thesis is often just a collection of published papers stapled together. Well, okay, it is not actually stapled. Students still have to reformat their papers according to a fairly stringent (ridiculously so) set of rules, so published papers act more like chapters. And we still have to print it on 100% cotton heavy paper.
However, I did my dissertation the "traditional" way. And then I moved on to other projects before writing it up for a journal. In some sense I am glad to have procrastinated, though. I learned a lot more about my research subject in the past three years, and so I was able to make a few connections I might not otherwise have been able to make. But it is time to finish the paper. Today I finished a draft and sent it to my collaborators for their opinions. I hope they like it!