Is 1 article enough?


Hi all,

Hope everyone is well, especially those awaiting Viva results.

I am just coming to the end of the first year of my PhD, in Humanities. I've hit the ground running as I had studied this particular area pretty much from my undergrad dissertation, through to my MA and into my PhD. I was therefore fortunate to be informed that my MA diss was good enough to be converted into a potential article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal, which is great. I've done this now and I'm currently waiting to hear back.

On the potential success of this, I asked my supervisor how I should plan my future publications and how many/when I should be looking to do them. However he told me that I shouldn't worry about publishing now if this current one is successful and that I should only begin to prepare another paper towards the end of the three years, and that I'd be fine getting a job after my PhD and generally that I shouldn't worry.

Considering how much post-doctoral life depends on publishing success, is this good advice or is said academic too far removed from the real state of young career researchers? Regardless, if I do want to go ahead and prepare another article for publication, I would be doing so against my supervisor's advice, which would leave me in an awkward position.

Any thoughts?
Much obliged.


Hi there

First off great you've hit the ground running - that's always a reassuring feeling!

Regarding your question, I take it you're submitting via thesis as opposed to publication. If so, it's generally standard practice to write the thesis and then extract articles for publications from your thesis work after completion of the PhD. I'm doing my PhD by publication, whereby I'm writing as I go, and then my published articles will be held together by linking chapters (if that makes sense).

I guess it depends how easy you find the whole publication process - I'm submitting by publication as it makes sense in terms of how I write, and my supervisors are happy and confident that I'm able to do this without it impeding time-wise. The drawback is that obviously submitting and resubmitting after peer review can be quite lengthy in terms of process. The bonus is if you're work has been independently peer reviewed, this makes the viva, and potential questions around your work easier to deal with as essentially you've been dealing with them the whole way through.

If you're submitting by thesis it's great you'll have a publication under your belt - just concentrate on doing the best job you can with the thesis and the articles should naturally spin out from that when you've finished.

Heather :)


Thanks Heather, that's very helpful. Yes I'm doing my PhD by theses as most Humanities do, not publication.

Your last remark, to focus on writing the theses and let the articles 'flow' from it when it's in the final stages/finished is, I expect, my supervisors main point. But I've always been led to believe that one needs as many articles under their belt as possible these days.

Best wishes,


I think it's good that your supervisor isn't putting too much pressure on you, and I wouldn't view his advice as a prohibition on publishing more articles. What I'm doing is the opposite way round from Heather, I'm writing articles that will then go into thesis chapters - only because it's the way I can motivate myself - and as Heather points out, you then have had peer review of your work. The most important thing is to make sure that your thesis is of the highest standard.


Hi Docinsanity,

Thanks for the reply, much appreciated.

Well I'm getting the overall idea that it's probably best to concentrate on the PhD and be thankful I'm not being put under pressure! I can live with that. Perhaps I'll get a paper ready at the beginning of my final year to ensure that it (hopefully) is published before my Viva. I just really like the idea of the security two published papers may bring to my post-doc chances.

Thanks again chaps and chapesses.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

As suggested below, you've two approaches. Either you can submit papers that later become the basis thesis chapters or you can concentrate on your thesis and later convert to papers.

I wrote the thesis then converted later to make it into a series of papers. Nine papers and one book chapter resulted. Of the nine papers, three were effectively written by my primary supervisor and six by myself. I'm also aware of another two conference papers written by my supervisor that I have not been able to lay my hands on, making a total of 12 documents resulting wholly or (in the case of the book chapter) partially from my thesis work. To cut a long story short, the project went well meaning that the data just flowed out with the experimental rig being seen as a paper production unit. Good experimental and data collection design was key to that.

A post doc at another Uni. gave me another three papers (one I largely wrote myself and on another two I was a contributing co-author), making 15 total. There was also another paper that I decided not to publish due to some extra data being required but is downloadable.

The actual count at the end of the PhD was actually two, however, both written by my supervisor. Most people come out of their PhDs with one or two papers, three at a push. During your PhD you will find time is precious and it will take all your efforts just to carry out any data collection, analysis and the thesis written up. I've known people not actually manage to publish.

The paper count went up after as I decided to pump as many papers out of the thesis as possible. As commented, publications are important if you want to remain in research and academia. I guess this might have been part of my motivation, but primarily I wanted the data to see the light of day. If there had only been the thesis, that would quite frankly have just sat on a shelf gathering dust. In the end, after two post-docs I ended up back in the real world meaning my publication record didn't really count for anything. (Problems during my second post-doc saw to it that following a research path at that time was not practical.)

If you get a couple of papers out of your work by the time the PhD ends, as I said that's normal. I wouldn't push to publish as many papers as possible (three or four maximum) as there's the danger you will lose focus on your PhD. If your supervisor is using you to pump out papers, I would be concerned about the amount of time you're being allowed to work on your PhD proper.

Hope that helps,

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)