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Here's How Ph.D. Students Get Their Research Published

By SMU Graduate Studies on October 17, 2019

heres-how-phd-students-get-research-publishedThe old adage in academia is “publish or perish,” and there is some truth in this saying. Academics are seeking to do cutting-edge research in their discipline, and the way to share this research is through publication. As with networking, if people don’t know your name, it’s hard to for your work to gain traction.

As researchers, and often future academics, students getting a doctorate are expected to publish as well. This can seem overwhelming to a new student. Who wants to listen to an unknown person who doesn’t even have their degree yet, right? However, as a graduate student, you will be doing an incredible deep dive into a particular area of your discipline. By the time you finish your dissertation, you are probably THE expert on your topic. Who better to publish and tell the story?

Learn more about what it would be like to get your Ph.D. by exploring how you  might earn yours and what sort of career opportunities are available!

Understanding research in grad school

Conquering your fears of inadequacy and rejection sounds like a pretty tall order. Sometimes, it helps to think that the challenge of publishing research is part of the experience of graduate school and of academic life in general. It comes with the career territory, and everyone else is trying to do the same thing.

Exactly how much graduate students are expected to publish varies by discipline — some expect multiple peer-reviewed journal publications prior to graduation, while others expect that your first big publication will be your dissertation itself. However, there are some common themes when thinking about publication that apply regardless of your discipline. Read on to explore three of them!

It has to be original.

Sounds obvious, but you can’t publish something that has already been published! This is your chance to explore a unique and un-tapped facet of your area of interest. Make sure you are up-to-date on the current trends of your field. This can seem daunting, but there are strategies to help you keep an eye on what other researchers are doing. This guide, put together by the great librarians at SMU, outlines several steps you can take to keep track of the latest news.  

You should study your target audience. 

Think about where you’d like to have your work published, and start reading those journals early. This give you an opportunity to understand the types of works being published and their expectations for scholarship, in addition to simply helping you stay current in your field. Not sure how to find the journals that make sense for you to target? Once again, the librarians to the rescue! There are multiple resources available online to help you evaluate journals, and they can also help you with strategies like tracking cited articles to find popular and well-regarded publications.  

You don't have to do it alone. 

Remember that publication doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Your advisor, colleagues, and other faculty in the department can be invaluable resources as you work to find an interesting topic or viewpoint, submit drafts for review, and move towards the final finished product. Asking for advice and guidance, particularly from those who have been publishing recently, is a great way to ensure that you are going to be reaching your audience with what you are trying to do.

Get started on your research contribution! 

Publishing research is part of the challenging and exciting adventure of graduate school. Whether you're interested in history or statistics, psychology or physics, at some point, the rest of the academic community will want to hear about what you are working on. When you publish research, you are contributing to the great dialogue between scholars and thinkers stretching back for centuries.

If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to earn your Ph.D., we invite you to explore the many resources we have available at SMU: browse our resource library, contact the Office of Graduate Studies, or subscribe to our blog. We are excited to help you as you consider your next step in your graduate school journey! 

For a comprehensive overview of the Ph.D. process — from consideration to application to graduation — explore our guide, Choosing, Applying for, and Thriving in a Ph.D. Program.

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SMU Graduate Studies

Written by SMU Graduate Studies

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