Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Should Publishing Papers Be a Priority for PhDs?

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Should Publishing Papers Be a Priority for PhDs?

Article excerpt

A study suggests that there may be long-term benefits, while critics warn of 'too much, too soon'. Jack Grove writes

In the "publish or perish" world of academia, getting that first paper accepted by a peer-reviewed journal can be a defining moment of an aspiring scholar's career.

It can often take place months or even years after passing a PhD viva, allowing time for an academic to finesse their thesis into an opus worthy of publication.

But a study suggests that those who wait to publish their first work until they have their doctorate may be missing out to those who publish while they are still a PhD student.

In the paper, published this month in the journal Research in Higher Education, the careers of about 4,000 PhD recipients in Portugal over almost 50 years were analysed to see whether publishing during their PhD had any impact on their long-term productivity.

Those who managed to publish while they were doctoral students produced about a third (36 per cent) more papers over the course of their careers than those who did not, according to the article, titled "The impact of publishing during PhD studies on career research publication, visibility, and collaborations".

Those who published while they were PhD students were also far more likely to publish every year than those who did not, and they were also more likely to produce single authored papers and collaborate internationally - two indicators often correlated with higher citation rates and healthy career advancement.

The success enjoyed by these PhD students may be explained by the fact that they are honing their networking, collaboration and writing skills earlier, said Hugo Horta, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong who co-authored the paper with João M. Santos, of ISCTE - the University Institute of Lisbon.

Publishing makes "socialisation during the PhD richer and prepares them better for a research-oriented career", said Dr Horta, who added that those who publish were able to better understand the "process of peer review and what it entails".

Dormant dissertations

Having publications under your belt was also crucial when applying for academic jobs, Dr Horta continued, saying that it was "a key signal to potential employers" that a candidate would do well. …

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