PhD by prior publication in the UK


I am debating whether or not I should enrol in a part-time PhD programme in the UK, or continue to informally build upon my existing list of published works. I am not currently employed at a university that offers a PhD by published works, which I know is typically a requirement for consideration for this degree. My plan is to seek employment at a University that offers this once I have a solid collection of at least five interrelated first-author publications.

Does anyone have any advice for someone who is prospectively planning a PhD-by-publication, in terms of increasing the likelihood of one's eventual success in being awarded the degree?

For context, I am in my early 30s and have a master's degree in epidemiology and biostatistics. I am NOT seeking a career in academia, and going back to university full-time is not financially viable given family obligations. I publish regularly through my work in public health practice. A PhD would help me land more research-oriented public health policy jobs and would add to my professional credibility (most of my colleagues have doctoral degrees - either clinical, DrPH or PhD), but a terminal degree is not absolutely necessary for advancement in my field. Career progression is, however, dependent on having a solid publications list. I have good working relationships with colleagues with research degrees who are keen to work with me to develop a portfolio.

While I have not removed a part-time PhD from the table, I am uncomfortable with the idea of paying annually into a degree programme over such a long period (completion would take 6-8 years), especially as I would run a very real risk of not completing the degree given how long it will take. On the other hand, enroling in a university would offer a clearly defined path with check boxes for obtaining a PhD that I wouldn't otherwise have.

Thank you very much in advance for any comments and suggestions.

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How many publications do you already have?

While your current university doesn't offer it but other universities offer short 1 year PhD by prior-publications for external candidates, such as Kingston below. So you wouldn't have to move job or commit for a 6-8 year period. If you already have a few publications I would contact the admin team to double check your eligibility and work from there. Having publications makes the whole process easier and having them before you start is even better. If anything, you need a narrative to connect the publications together.