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Publish or Perish

I know the phrase is getting old, growing a beard and all that. However, spending a lovely afternoon with fellow academics the topic publication is as inevitable as rain in Scotland—even on a Sunday afternoon walking along the shores of Loch Lomond.

So I am to sit down and write on an academic publication, and somehow all I can think about is: What’s the point? I am not handing in my publications for REF and the paper will be accessible earliest in about 18 months. Further, the journal I would write for, has not REF impact so my friend said this is like writing for the news paper—pointless. [Well, at least in terms of academic career progression.]

My problem is: Research needs to be accessible and I don’t think it is acceptable to wait for years until publications are disseminated.

Under this point of view our Sunday conversation steered towards “self-publishing”. I thought would it not be great to create an online journal for postgraduate students, where students could publish articles and undergo a transparent and actual peer review process. Similar to comments on a Blog, Facebook post or twitter—other students and academics can comment and discuss these publications. It would make so much more sense for the students’ research process and would definitely keep the discourse more active.

Now I am not a postgrad anymore and don’t know; should I try and spend weeks of my life to write a couple academic journal articles that may or may not be published? And if yes what is the point?


Categories: Teaching

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Nathalie Sheridan

4 replies

  1. I am a first year PGR (post-grad research) student who hasn’t had anything published yet. The whole idea is daunting. We’re told that we will have to get one thing published before we graduate, which seems like an eon away but it soon will be here. I think a post-grad journal is a good idea; a lot of the bigger journals take time to publish stuff, and deciding where to publish is another issue entirely.

    Open source publishing is talked about; I’m not sure I fully understand it, but you could always try to consider that. At end of day if getting published means you get (or keep) a job, I’d publish then when you move upwards there is less pressure. But you’re right – what is the point. Although isn’t that what academia is, at least in history (my field).


  2. Hi Mark,

    If you chose a career in academia you definitely ought to publish, ask your supervisor to begin with co-authored papers, or see if fellow Postgrad students are up for a co-authored paper. And you are right time flies!

    During the PhD I posted my blog-posts (mostly bits and bobs of my research) on Facebook and had really good discussions with fellow Postgrad students about the research process, theory etc. This was really helpful and subsequently took the fear factor out of publishing.

    Maybe it really would make sense to start a postgraduate online journal. One would need a database provider and maybe a couple of highly regarded academics as editors. … hm

    You are right in that I have nothing to lose with publishing.


  3. Worth a shot and prob you will get something good out of it, plus help lots of research students! But these things take time… and skill. Yes I’m in the early stages of my research at the moment so I have nothing to publish; I thought about setting up a blog but I’m not sure at the moment I’d have anything to say!


    1. You could try beginning to write with a research diary jot down ideas, arguments?

      I have no skill about journal publishing but I know people who do! Will certainly explore the issue.


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