In case you have missed the peer-lead event on publishing as a PhD student or you are just looking for something get you started, PhD Life prepared a quick overview of some key points to consider, before and after publication…
Publication record is becoming increasingly important, if not the most important element in securing and academic post after the PhD, but even if this was not the case, it is always great to be able to share the results of your research with other people. With this in minds, we have asked some of Warwick’s PhD students to share their experience of the process of getting published. Jennifer Eggert offered us a perspective on social sciences, and Felipe Cicaroni Fernandes gave an insight into publishing in STEM field. We are also grateful to Yvonne Budden from Scholarly Communications at Warwick , who closed the event offering advice on open access, communicating with publishers and reaching your audience.
Here are some key questions our speakers answered in the session.
- When should I start publishing? The sooner the better – it might take much longer than you think, also you won’t have that much time later one – busy with field work, write up, etc.
- Do I really need a publication strategy? Yes, it’s a good way develop your academic CV in a coherent way and make your publications work for you. If you are based at Warwick, this workshop might be useful.
- How to choose a topic? You might want to use contents of you masters research, parts of your PhD or a side-project. Check what kind of paper the publication normally goes for. Consider significance and replicability of your work.
- Where to find prospective publications? Use your online channels to get info on special issues, edited volumes and similar publications in your field (specialised hashtags, mailing lists). You might be approached by people at conferences too or even “cold emailed” (but be weary of predatory press). Look at the articles you quote in your work and check which journals they were published in. Make sure the article you submit adds to debates in the journal. Check the databases for journals in the field.
- How to choose between them? Check rankings ( think impact factor!), but consider your field particularities too. It’s ok if you don’t publish your first paper in a prestigious journal (you need to start from somewhere!), but if it is the core of your work and you think it has potential, aim high. Chat with your supervisors and colleagues. Also, think about audiences. Who do you want to read your article, academics, activists, an international audience or people in a particular country?
- I’ve found a journal, now what? Read all the guidelines carefully. Email if unsure about something. Go through articles that have been published in the journal and analyse the structure and style.
- What’s the best way to write a journal paper/chapter? No universal recipe, we all write differently. Some people think first and map everything out, and then write; other do these activities simultaneously.
- How does it differ from thesis? Unless it is a literature review article, the discussion of relevant literature is much less extensive and much more focused than it would be in your thesis. Choose appropriate dataset, case study, etc., as you will have limited wordcount. Make sure your writing is concise and argumentative, rather than descriptive.
- Should I look for co-authors? Collaboration is a trend, especially in STEM. Explore your network to find collaborators. Credit where credit is due.
- How should I deal with reviewers comments? Do not despair, take a break a break from the paper in needed; ask your supervisors/colleagues for advice. Bear in mind that reviewers are not always experts in your niche, you do not have to take everything on board (especially if the comments are contradictory). Salma shared spreadsheets you might like to use! Learn from your mistakes.
- How long does it take? It depends on the field and the publisher, from a few of months to a couple of years!! Some field have specialised websites where you can check submission/acceptance date on published papers.
- Are there any costs to publishing? Pages in colour or open access, you can check some costs/available options on Sherpa.
- Is there support or funding available for this? Yes, and yes, contact your library/funding organisation / department to see if funding is available. If you are at Warwick, check WRAP’s website.
- Why is Open Access important? First, this makes your paper available to wider audience (and that should very much be the point of publishing). Second, only publications in available in such way can be considered for REF (or reviews to come). “With effect from April 2013 all University members are required to deposit into the research outputs repository, the final (refereed and corrected) accepted versions of their peer-reviewed journal articles and peer-reviewed conference articles.”
- Why/how should I promote my publication? Use social media (start building an audience BEFORE your article gets published; be proactive in promoting your research on social media, e.g. contact people who might be interested directly), dedicated academic portals and your portfolio. Noticing -> reading -> citing!
- What about non-journal/academic publications? Great way to reach wider audience and show that your writing is versatile. You can do this independently or after your paper is published. Reach out to blog and webpage editors in your respective field with a brief pitch, in most cases they will be happy to hear from you.
- Can I publish on topics unrelated to my research? If you have the time and feel passionately about a topic, why not? Make sure to check writing conventions if it is in a different field.
Final thoughts: Many journals have very low acceptance rates, most of PhD students (as well as senior academics!) experience the same struggle along the way. Resilience and patience are key to publishing successfully.
Let us know in the comments section if you have any further questions or would like to share your experience with publishing.