Publications are very important for the early career researcher and for academia in general. It’s a way of judging your research success, proving you have the skills required to further your career and to put your research out into the world.
There are whole books dedicated to “Getting Published in Academic Journals” and often intensive courses on the process of publishing available from your university. The need to publish during you PhD cannot be understated but how much you publish is debatable.
Things to consider…
1. Impact factor – ImpactFactorLists.com
Each journal has an impact factor score (you can find out which journals have the highest scores in your discipline at the website above). This is based on the number of citations received by a journal, in a given year, divided by the amount of articles published. A high impact factor means more people are likely to see your research.
Journals have different styles. You should try and get a feel for the journal you want to publish in by reading their articles. For example, publishing in Nature or Science your research would have to feature a “big” discovery or something particularly controversial. Journals articles vary in length, reading age, focus, format etc.
Rejection is inevitable. Try not to take it to heart; though it can be quite annoying. You should set your sights for high impact journals but know your limitations. It becomes a question of time management. If you send it to Nature and get rejected then have to spend a lot of time reformatting to make it acceptable for a new journal. Ask someone in your field to give you advice on what journal is most appropriate for your paper.
4. The Story
The paper’s story is something I didn’t understand at first. I considered stories to have plots, unexpected twists and lie within the realms of the humanities. But it actually makes a lot of sense to think of the paper as a story. You start of introducing the big picture, a hook to show the story is novel, talk through the results in an understandable order, each leading on from the previous, then you conclude. An incomplete story makes for a confusing read.
To get accepted you will have to improve on what is already known. This is not a problem when it comes to thinking about my experimental results but I do wonder how I can contribute when it comes to adding another literature review to the mix.
6. Author contribution
Like I said above, publications are important. Some journals have restrictions on the number of authors that can be included but you should consider including as many well-known names, collaborators and fellow PhD students as possible. This will increase the audience of the paper and give other PhD students a career boost. However, for review articles it is common to have only a few authors to reflect the literature search and writing only.
Publishing costs a lot. Though I am not sure how much as I have not gone through the process myself. You will need to make sure their are funds available to publish to the journal you want. More information is in the article below.
- Noorden, R. V., 2013. Open Access: the true cost of science publishing. Nature. LINK
8. Open Access
Open access is a way of making your research available to all. Communicating to more than just institutes with journal subscriptions, to business, charities and the wider public. There are two ways to go about making your article open access:
- Publish in an open access journal
- Publish in an open electronic archive (more information here)