When to Publish


Hello all,

Question about getting academically published: When in my PhD should I be aiming to do this?

I'm four months into a creative practice based doctorate so it's all pretty new. I've been told by Super 1 (creative lead) not to bother with academic publishing. He tells me I shouldn't be trying to compete with the 'real' academics. But my goal is to teach, and Super 2 (critical lead, very engaged in my project) tells me it's imperative.

I already have some reff-able creative publications, and I want to write academically because of the desire to teach, but also because I want to broaden my outputs and for my research to have some impact in the field. It's not *just* a career booster for me.

My biggest challenge is that I come from a practical rather than an academic background (never got a BA, got my MA a few years ago but in a different field), and I find just reading the articles in the journals that fit my research to be - frankly, and embarrassingly - mindboggling. They make me feel thick and I don't know how I could ever write so knowledgably.

I'm sure with a year of practice I could get there, but is this going to put me a step behind? When are PGRs generally aiming to get their first journal article published?



It's hard to answer because the value and type of publication vary a lot by discipline. But as a rule of thumb, having one, solid, journal publication, in a journal well-recognised in your field, prior to viva is what I'd recommend. Posters/conf papers are a nice icing to the cake, but one good output is the biggest aid in the defence and your career.

You don't technically need to ever publish beyond the thesis to get a PhD. It gets complicated because often students will be told they 'need' to publish, when the reality is the group/supervisor want to encourage them to publish with their name on it (or even they're just chairing something and short on posters to decorate the hall). But, on the flip side, it's a very strong asset at viva to have a peer-reviewed publication related to the thesis, because you can argue to examiners that the peer-reviewers though your work was valid and worthy of publication, so if they challenge anything, why don't they?

I'd say a good publication is worth infinitely many bad ones - but I don't know your field, or the prevailing methodology etc. I'd be suspect of a 1st year publication being genuinely REF-able (in the sense it'd be considered worth returning, rather than just eligible for return), because you should still be in the space of learning the field and understandably still trying to get your head around the literature, but that doesn't mean it's not the case. It's a bit worrying your main supervisor sounds like a washed up academic who just teaches - something I get, but not something (s)he should be impressing on you - I'd listen to your 2nd supervisor on that.


This is super helpful, and reassuring. Thank you for your thoughtful response abababa.