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Publications and the PhD – do you need them or not?

Increasingly, doctoral candidates seeking a career within academia find it necessary to build up a publication record concurrent to writing their thesis. Usually, this will take the form of writing journal articles, either as the sole author, or as the co-author working as part of a team (most common in the hard sciences). A strong record of well-received articles in highly-ranked journals can make all the difference in marking an early-career academic out as a diligent researcher in their field.

However, taking the first step of submitting an article to an academic journal can be a difficult one. This is not only because of the considerable demands placed on a doctoral candidate’s time by the writing of a dissertation, but because making the shift from writing thesis chapters to composing a self-contained article is not always straightforward.

With this in mind, an often-overlooked way of familiarising oneself with the process of submitting an article to an academic journal is to start by writing short book review articles. These are often comparatively short, typically between five hundred and one thousand words. Not only does this represent a straightforward means of getting your writing in an academic journal, writing these shortform reviews is nowhere near as time-consuming for the hard-pressed doctoral researcher as writing an entire article (depending on the length of the book under scrutiny, of course!). These short reviews can also be a good way of keeping up with literature in your field, and introducing yourself to new writers and ideas that can easily fall by the wayside when making an effort to keep the thesis on track. Anyone struggling with the idea of approaching a journal for article publication should think about starting with a short review article; if nothing else, you get to keep the book!

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