Tricky Topic: Publications...?


Hi all,

I suspect people have different views on this, and I get that is what I would like to get at. Also there may be large subject variance too. However, I guess we may all agree that publications are an important part of academia. So my question is, if any at all, what number of publications are you aiming for by the time you finish your PhD? None? One good first authored paper? Or perhaps two or three second or third authored papers? Perhaps more, perhaps less?? Are there any expected informal targets within your subject?

I would be very interested in your views...



I think if you have a PhD level project you should be aiming for at least one good first authored paper by the time you graduate (although it may not be in Nature or whatever the highest impact factor journal in your field is).

That is going to be your calling card to the world of academia, so its important you get full credit for it (learned this the hard way as my ex-supervisor severely screwed me by taking first authorship for my PhD project and made me 3rd author).


My supervisors take the view that I should concentrate on my PhD at the moment, and then publish like mad afterwards! I'm hoping to have some time after submission and before a post-doc etc to get into some paper stuff - which will be adapting the material I've already submitted, so I do kinda agree with them. So by the end of my PhD I'll only have a few conference proceedings, but enough material (hopefully) to kick start the whole process.

Don't underestimate the time it takes to write a paper!


I think a lot depends on the topic. For example, someone I share an office with started there PhD in October and has authored a paper already as there weren't any good reviews on her topic. My supervisors have said that I could possibly publish 3 or 4 papers during my PhD (currently 1 year into mine), or maybe even more. Some universities will allow your thesis to be made up of journal publications only which is an incentive if you feel you may get a lot of publications out. I personally will publish if possible but won't go all out as I want to make sure I get a good PhD thesis finished above all else with hopefully 1 or 2 good first authored papers.

It would be nice to get published but think that you don't have to be published to get a PhD.


All good points, I did think there may be difference in supervisor's opinions on this. I guess a crucial factor is why you are doing the PhD in the first place. This may influence your focus. If you are doing it to get the PhD, you may focus on that, if you are aiming for a research career you may be a little more publication focused perhaps?


I have been advised to submit my thesis as 2-4 journal papers with an overall intro and discussion. Hopefully this will be less work overall than a thesis followed by publictions - and I need the publications asap to get a postdoc.


I agree that it depends on the supervisor. My previous advisor for my MA work wanted me to aim for 2 publications a year, one where you should be first author (that included peer-review publications or conference proceedings). My PhD supervisor tells me to still aim for the 2/year rule: try and be first author to the "publications" a year (peer-review or conference proceedings, or even conference presentations or workshops in the area). By the time you graduate you should be 'on the radar' in your field. Then publish your dissertation in a three part series. Not always feasible in the year, but he gives us a standard to work from.


I started in october and several lecturers (including both my supervisors) advised me to try to get as many publications as possible during my PhD. At the moment I've submitted two papers, one as first author (which was from work carried out for my undergraduate degree), the other as second author on a subject not directly related to my PhD but on a similar topic. I'm not sure how many I'll manage to submit by the time I finish (needless to say, it's been a bit overwhelming already, balancing time between actual PhD work and extra work) but I have been told that I should try to aim to get at least one of my studies from my PhD work published by the time I finish, but to aim for two or three publications from my thesis overall