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Reasons to publish

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Your research is valuable, but it has to be presented to the rest of the scientific community, and be available for the public. Written, documented and reviewed communication is necessary to make your research available and useful.  Here are some common motivations that you as a PhD student may have for publishing your work.

Making yourself matter

“Publish or perish”.
Wilson (1942)

You want to make your research known to the research community, to the public, and to policy makers and industry, who may need research-based arguments for making decisions. Your research may also be used in general knowledge building and teaching, and your peers may build on your reults in the same way that you build on theirs.

There are large differences between diciplines on how much focus there is on writing. In social sciences and humanities, the writing and publishing process is often the core of the PhD mission, while in natural sciences, especially those dealing with experimental research, writing and publishing is often overlooked until the very end of the project.

Career building

It is a good idea to view publishing as a way to strengthen your own position within the research community. When building your career as a researcher, the rest of the community will evaluate you on what you can add to the scientific or scholarly puzzle. Both quality and quantity will be measured (for instance by means of Impact Factor or H-index), and the main focus will be on the written, published work. Your publications are a measure on how efficient and complete your research is, and how mature you are as a researcher. If you can show a good track record in publishing, you increase the probability of being considered as a collaborator in future projects.

Funding and formal requirements

You may have to publish a certain number of works to complete your degree. This requirement can be claimed by your department, or by your funding or grant source. You may be obligated to publish a certain number of publications per year during your employment period, or there may be a requirement on a certain number of publications before being considered for a position or a grant.

Increasing your chances to receive funding for further work is often an important consideration regarding publishing. Funding agencies and institutions may require that you agree to complete a certain number of publications in order to be considered for receiving funding or being employed. Your employer may reward publications by extra funding, ‘payment per publication’, or have other strategies that favour an increasing number of publications in the ‘right’ channels (i.e. approved channels in Norway or Authority Lists in Denmark).

Improving your skills

When you want to publish your work, you are expected to be able to write in a specific, structured language, and to be as focused and precise as possible about the story you want to tell. It is necessary to work through your material and data properly, and to identify both the main findings as well as the small details of your research. When your manuscript has been submitted, the peer review process often provides you with additional insight into your own work .

Through the process of identifying the appropriate publisher to submit your work to, you will gain more knowledge about different publication channels and rankings. You will also learn about different publication styles and the publication process.

References

Wilson, L. (1942). The Academic Man: A Study in the Sociology of a Profession. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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