As an academic, you have certain expectations from your peers, employers and supervisors to publish your work. In regards to a PhD, published work is really good groundwork for your viva as it shows that your work is of a publishable quality. Going into a PhD, I had no idea about publishing papers. I’d read a lot of journal articles during my undergrad, but I had never thought about how they are submitted, the process or the specifications of the journal. It was fortunate enough that my university had a workshop, run by Taylor and Francis, with tips and advice on the publishing process.
My first published paper experience was a lucky one. I was actually asked to write the paper by a member of staff at my university. He basically said that he wanted me to write an article for his next release of the journal, as he was the editor of an open access journal called “Innovations in Practice” i was incredibly flattered to be asked but then, panic set in. How can I write a paper that’s of publishable quality when I had not long finished my undergraduate degree? How could I compare to the academics with many years of experience?
What a lot of people don’t realise is, just because someone has been an academic for a long period of time, it doesn’t necessarily equate to their writing quality. Just like as a student, some people are simply better writers than others. After giving my first draft to the editor, I was reassured that my writing was not terrible (which of course – is good to hear!) and that there were academics with years of experience who had submitted who had far more work to do on their papers than I did on mine.
I was incredibly grateful to be able to work with the editor, he mentioned things I had never had to consider before when writing my essays and lab reports in my undergrad.
Think about your audience.
It kind of goes without saying, but it’s often forgot about, I was guilty of it too. Don’t assume knowledge, write your paper in a way that many academics will be able to read and understand it.
Another thing to consider, the wording. Something so small could be what distinguishes fact from fiction. For example, originally I had written in my article that learning gain was going to be a metric for the teaching excellence framework. I was advised to change this to say that it is going to “potentially” be a metric, so it is not set in stone and this could change as the years progress. Especially when it comes to academic frameworks which can often change.
The journal was peer reviewed, but in this instance it was more like I was able to meet with the editor and I was able to see his notes on my work and discuss them with him – incredibly useful for my first time! It was great to be able to get this advice as it has proved invaluable to me, I can apply this to my next submission which I am planning on writing soon.
Use publications to write parts of your thesis.
If you are a PhD student like me, publications are incredibly useful. They are a way of writing your thesis with verification that the work is good, so essentially my first publication was a literature review which will go into the first chapter of my thesis. My second publication that I plan to do, is another literature review but from a slightly different angle, which will help to add to the first chapter. After this, I plan on trying to do some publications with my interview data. At first, I didn’t understand how I could split this up, but after many discussions with the journal editor and my supervisor, I have many ideas for publications!
For those interested, you can find the link to the publication in my publications page under “about”.
If you have any questions regarding my experience with publishing, please feel free to contact me or comment below.