Is it too early to be worried about publication record?

posted
13-Sep-11, 11:07
edited about 28 seconds later
by Ellain
Avatar for Ellain
posted about 9 years ago
I think this applies more to students who plan on staying in academia, but does anyone else get very anxious about their publication record being too little too slowly? My first authorships are not on track to be published for almost a year after I leave. My supervisor is great in many ways but feels no sense of urgency over the timing of publications.

She says three middle-authorships is plenty to get a postdoc, which it is, but I am constantly stressed that if my pubs are going to be good enough to get me a faculty position long term then it needs to start now. She just laughed and said its too early for me to be worrying about it but that's easy for her to say- she got a first author Nature paper two years into her phd and had her own lab within five years of graduating.
posted
13-Sep-11, 11:36
edited a moment later
Avatar for Keenbean
posted about 9 years ago
Hey Ellain- I think it's best to just do as much as you can within the time-frame you have. In some disciplines publications are very important for getting a post-doc, and of course first-author papers look good, although middle-author ones will still be valuable. Are your first authorship papers submitted? If so, you can list them as 'submitted'/'under review' papers on your CV too. Personally I would try to get a first-author paper under your belt as well if you have time, but many PhD students will finish with no publications, so your three middle-author ones will go in your favour in the post-doc job market! I've had two interviews for post-docs/fellowships (I got the second job I was interviewed for) and both told me I'd been offered the interview on the basis of my PhD publication record. Of course the whole publication review procedure etc is very slow, so always good to start early! Good luck with it! KB
posted
13-Sep-11, 12:38
edited about 8 seconds later
by Ellain
Avatar for Ellain
posted about 9 years ago
Thanks keenbean, I read your publication record on another post that's pretty impressive! :D

Basically some of it could go to print now, but my supervisor strongly favours journal impact over number of publications... so is waiting till my research period is up to see if she wants to submit the data to two or three moderate journals or pool them and submit one high impact paper. Tactically she is probably right and I am probably wrong (after all she managed her own career) but I would just feel better leaving with a first authorship in ANY journal!

Btw. Probably helps if we all specify country on this thread to avoid confusion because people on shorter courses will obviously have less than people on longer ones. I'm UK (3 year course).
posted
13-Sep-11, 13:07
edited about 11 seconds later
by sneaks
Avatar for sneaks
posted about 9 years ago
I think its a tricky one. I've just got a job, I suspect purely because of my publications. However, none of these have come from my PhD, they've come from an RA role before my PhD and one afterwards - I've basically piggy backed onto my sup's work for the last year and got great publications for the REF from it.

I did also waste (In my opinion) about a year of my PhD trying to get my papers ready for publication, they are stil sitting here and I'd have been far better off getting the thesis submitted first and then the publications.

I think it all depends on how much support you'll have - it looks like your sup would rather you got the PhD out of the way, so I'd use her willingness on that rather than try and fight her and get little support with publications.
posted
13-Sep-11, 15:31
Avatar for alleycat393
posted about 9 years ago
Sorry to jump in on this. I'm about to start on my PhD (so excited :D) and was wondering if review articles also count towards your publication record? I know primary papers are first priority but would still like to know.

Thanks!
posted
13-Sep-11, 16:04
Avatar for Keenbean
posted about 9 years ago
Hey Alleycat! Yeah, review papers are just as worthy as results papers, and there are some quite high-impact journals devoted to review papers! And the other great thing is, you can write them as you go along rather than having to wait until the end of your PhD when you have some publishable data. That way, you get early publications and have a good idea of how the peer review system works by the time you come to publishing results. My first three papers were two systematic reviews and a theoretical paper, which I wrote and had published whilst I was collecting my data, and then I moved onto results papers afterwards. Good luck with it :) KB
posted
13-Sep-11, 16:12
by Delta
Avatar for Delta
posted about 9 years ago
For employment purposes afterwards, especially if you've an interest in academia OR research, I would strongly suggest you get a publication during your PhD. I was turned down for a RA job due to having no journal publications.
posted
13-Sep-11, 16:40
edited about 6 seconds later
by sneaks
Avatar for sneaks
posted about 9 years ago
Whilst I agree with Delta, I have also been turned down for a few roles because I haven't done the PhD - I think some universities prefer to see that you've completed the PhD and have a load of papers due to be submitted, rather than having 1 or 2 publications, but still floundering about doing a PhD (which is where I was at - and am still, for the next few weeks anyway!)
posted
13-Sep-11, 17:58
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for LarryDavid
posted about 9 years ago
Another thing to consider perhaps... I was told by a prof that as when examining in a Viva he wouldn't think of questioning any work from a thesis that had already been published. Obviously I guess he would probe the arguments or maybe work for some explanation on some points, but, as he said, how can he question work that has been blind peer reviewed, maybe twice, and passed by an editor. Some more experienced people here might have had other experiences in the Viva but still having 2 or 3 or 4 publications of material directly or indirectly from the thesis must be a great thing in someone's favour.
posted
13-Sep-11, 18:23
Avatar for DrJeckyll
posted about 9 years ago
Yes, I agree with Larry, and it kind of helps you to beat the intellectual isolation, the PhD imposes on us...

But I wouldn't do it against the recommendations of my supervisor.
posted
13-Sep-11, 21:21
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for Keenbean
posted about 9 years ago
Mmmm, the viva thing is interesting. By submission and viva I had 5 chapters accepted for publication and 2 under review. Most of the questions in my viva were on the work that had already been published- as they went through the chapters they asked where each had been published, and scanned over the non-published stuff only very briefly. They did actually pick holes in some of the published stuff, but the points they made were not things that they then asked me to correct. In fact, both examiners completely disagreed with my analysis in one of the published chapters, but again did not ask me to change anything, presumably because it had already been peer-reviewed and published. I have to admit, I went into the viva expecting the questions to focus more on the unpublished work than the published stuff, but that wasn't the case. I suppose on the plus side if stuff has been published you can have some confidence that your work is of PhD standard overall, or at least some bits of it! Best, KB
posted
13-Sep-11, 22:00
by Ender
Avatar for Ender
posted about 9 years ago
This is really interesting. I am in the UK doing Physics. Does anybody know if it is normal to publish a few papers during a physics PhD? or is it just usually one big one at the end? Should i be aiming to get papers published each year?

Also keenbean, what do you mean by saying you had 5 chapters accepted for publication, chapters of your thesis? if so, how can chapters be published separately? or do you mean you were waiting for the others to be accepted?

Often in Physics when PhD students go to conferences they present their work using posters, but don't necessarily present papers all the time. How would you choose whether to present a poster or a paper?

Also, if i publish a paper on my prjoect, doesn't that mean my name will be the first author? since it is all my work? under what circumstance would you be a middle-author?

Ender
posted
13-Sep-11, 22:40
Avatar for Keenbean
posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 13 Sep 2011 22:42:56 =======
Quote From Ender:

This is really interesting. I am in the UK doing Physics. Does anybody know if it is normal to publish a few papers during a physics PhD? or is it just usually one big one at the end? Should i be aiming to get papers published each year?

Also keenbean, what do you mean by saying you had 5 chapters accepted for publication, chapters of your thesis? if so, how can chapters be published separately? or do you mean you were waiting for the others to be accepted?

Often in Physics when PhD students go to conferences they present their work using posters, but don't necessarily present papers all the time. How would you choose whether to present a poster or a paper?

Also, if i publish a paper on my prjoect, doesn't that mean my name will be the first author? since it is all my work? under what circumstance would you be a middle-author?

Ender


Hey Ender!

Because the PhD is such a large piece of work, there is the potential to publish a number of papers from it. Journals usually have word limits, so you'd never be able to publish a whole PhD as one journal article, although of course you could select results from different chapters and put them together as one paper. Journals I have published in have typically had word limits of 4,000-10,000 words, although there is variation across disciplines and according to type of paper, e.g. results paper, review article, etc. I sent off each chapter separately for publication in different journals (two systematic literature reviews, one theoretical paper, and four results papers), so my thesis consists of these 7 papers, with an introduction chapter at the beginning and a discussion chapter at the end. Because I wanted to publish as I went along, I wrote each chapter as a journal article, so I could send it off for peer-review and also put it directly into my PhD. There will be a few differences between the journal papers and the PhD chapters, as I had to respond to reviewers' comments/examiners' comments on one version and not the other etc, but basically they will be very similar.

With respect to the poster/paper thing, presenting a poster can be a good way to start, perhaps for your first conference or if you are nervous with oral presentations. But it's also good to build up a bit of experience at giving oral presentations at conferences if you can- they tend to hold more weight than poster presentations on your CV, and it gives you a good opportunity to learn how to talk about and defend your research etc.

The authorship thing can be tricky. Usually if you write the paper and it is based on your PhD work then you will be first author. I am first author on all of my publications, and my supervisor is second. However, other factors come into play, such as who designed the project, who collected and analysed the data, who contributed to the writing of the paper, and how fair your supervisor is with giving credit to their PhD students. Normally that's more of a problem where quite a few people are involved with the project. My project was my own, with only me working on it and writing the papers, so it was quite straightforward. However, if my supervisor wrote a paper based on my data (as we have discussed recently), then she would be first author and I would be second. Perhaps others who have been middle author can explain how that works better than I can!

Also, my experience is specific to clinical psychology- I can't comment on the physics side of things!
Best, KB
posted
13-Sep-11, 23:16
edited about 25 seconds later
by Ender
Avatar for Ender
posted about 9 years ago
Thanks KB!

That's really useful thanks, i didn't really understand how it worked with papers, but that makes a lot of sense. It gives me a lot to think about. I think having a focus with publishing papers is really good, gives the whole thing more structure, i think i will put that approach to my professors and see what they think. My PhD will have a number of parts, first i have to do the whole review thing and design an approach, then i have to learn how to fabricate my project and make a method of making it, then testing and characterising. So most of my final data analysis depends on successfully making the device i need to analyse. Of course there is all the theory, and i will have to do some computer modelling too- something tells me it will take me more than 3 years, but i will do my best!

Ender
posted
14-Sep-11, 12:16
by Ellain
Avatar for Ellain
posted about 9 years ago
======= Date Modified 14 Sep 2011 12:20:49 =======
So a quick update, I've come to a compromise with my supervisor. The bulk of the project we will still wait till the end before publishing but I went digging around my data to see what I've actually got. We're a structural lab and my project is looking at one protein and how it binds to some of its partners... one of those partners has no structure published at all and is easy to handle so all through my PhD I've been analysing its structure alone with a view to making the complex easier to interpret later.

I've asked my supervisor a year ago if I could make a side project out of this and publish it separately to which the reply was that I ought to focus on the main project. So after posting yesterday and reading a few of the replies I spent last night throwing all the data I already have about this binding partner that does not fit well into our main work into a paper format... this morning I dropped it on her desk and guess what? She agrees!

Feels good and kind of weird because I've not had the confidence to take the initiative in that way before, but she rekons we can submit before Christmas! :D

Thx for so many replies to this thread too!

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