My friend has just done that. He picked a random topic (but within his research area) and wrote a review paper on it with some other colleagues (topic was random for them too). It just got accepted.
I think he would do it again because he is very happy to increase his publication list!
I think it did take time away from his studies though because our supervisors aren't happy with the amount of progress in his work... He used to work on it mostly on the weekends and during evenings. He hasn't mentioned it to our supervisors...
I haven't written an article on an unrelated topic but did give a paper at a conference on a subject that related to my (PhD-unrelated) MA dissertation during my final year. The conference theme was so relevant to my dissertation that it seemed too good an opportunity to miss and I could draw the paper together quite quickly with only a little extra work to bring it up to date. I would be more hesitant about starting research for a paper unrelated to my PhD from scratch because of the time commitment. I think if you did you would have to be very strict with yourself about how much time you could afford to spend on it.
One other thing to think about if the topic is entirely unrelated to your PhD is whether you should or would want to call yourself an independent scholar rather than being affiliated to the university in which you are doing your PhD. I'm not sure if it matters but I did feel slightly odd at the conference being listed as being of the University of X when the work was done at the University of Y.
Thanks for the input thus far guys. I am considering this as not only as a method of expanding my exposure but also an "anti-burnout" technique. While not straying out of my discipline, I think a bit of a break from my main thesis now and then may be a welcome "break".
I'm not sure about publishing work outside of the thesis. If you have the time then fair play to you!!!
I'm from the humanities and I published 4 articles that were from my thesis during the PhD.
It was a really useful experience as I got to use material that didn't make it into the final book and by submitting articles you are getting even more feedback on your work. Plus it forces you to rewrite and make the thesis better.
The only thing I'd be wary of is publishing too much that is close to the stuff you want to publish in the book post-PhD. Some publishers might be put off by that.
I've done it during my Masters quite a bit (haven't gotten into PhD yet!), and do intend to continue it. Chasing one subject all day, every day, can get quite tiring and frustrating, no matter how much you like it.
Plus, exploring a different field does help in maintaining perspective sometimes. Different fields have different research methods, tools, evaluation principles, etc. Researching a different field may sometimes show you how habitual and rigid your own thinking patterns have become over time in one subject :-)
Also - especially in the sciences - it can end up being surprisingly useful in your main research work. I ended up applying some mathematical techniques I picked up while publishing in one field, to run analyses on my Master's dissertation in engineering.
If you have the time, and would like to try it out, I'd definitely recommend it.
I have done it. I have a "normal" work in a field quite different from my phd.
I have published 3 papers frtom work-related research and i have 5 conference papers in the last years.
It does take tyimer off from my phdf, but i have to do tyhe studying fgor my work, i have tyhe research sample available,bao why not writer it up as a paper for a journal or a conference.
I always tell my wife time is not granted, it is made. This, coupled with the reality of the all out war-zone that is the post-PhD academic career market, my priorities are quite clear: Work > work > work > everything else. I intend to make the time for these articles. Thanks for the on-the-ground feedback as usual.
I previously worked for an NGO, during which I started to write 2 journal articles, which I completed during the first year of my PhD. I then wrote another one for the NGO a few months ago. I'd say as long as you have time (and as the above comments suggest, you can make time) then it's a good exercise to do so that you don't get too tired of your own subject, plus extra publications look good, especially outside the direct line of your research as it shows you're a well-rounded researcher. I'd definitely say go for it!
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