A simple guide to begin publishing during Your PhD
One of the best ways of sharing your research is by publishing your findings, innovative methodologies or original knowledge that you have created through your PhD.
While many researchers choose to publish only after they complete and obtain their doctorate, some begin the process while they are still doing their PhD (the difference in approach is often down to disciplinary norms).
Academic publishing can often prove challenging – it is not uncommon for the process to take six months to a year from submission to publication. Selecting the right journal is itself an exercise that needs to be well planned – read on for an introduction on getting started and some tips for bettering your chances of getting published.
Deciding where to publish
Spend a substantial amount of time finding the most suitable journal for your work. This can be a fairly lengthy process but can save you a lot of time in the long term.
Start by considering journals that have published the scholars whose writing you work with most, and/or which specialise in your field of research. You should be able to find out more about the journal or access their archive of issues through a quick online search, or through your university’s access to online resources. Examine the kind of contributions they accept, which current debates or studies they have published that your research can add to, or what methodologies they favour.
You may also want to talk to your supervisor(s), PhD colleagues or fellow researchers about the journals they are most familiar with. They may be able to recommend suitable journals for your research area or have experience of submitting to and working with particular journals. They may even be willing to read through drafts of your work and offer you advice for preparing your submission.
Thinking outside of the box: publishing through other avenues
Moving beyond traditional academic journals, new online and media technologies now offer many other alternative avenues for publishing. Before approaching the more well-known, high-impact academic journals – which are often more difficult to penetrate when your research is still in its early stages – you might consider other platforms for disseminating your work, such as websites, blogs or podcasts.
Seek out websites or online magazines relevant to your field of study that encourage academics or writers to submit article ideas. For example, The Conversation is an excellent place to start – the website accepts writing predominantly from academics but is free and open to anyone to read, so you can reach many readers very quickly. There are also an increasing number of academic journals that publish online and are more accessible and easy to work with.
Writing for such publications is an excellent form of knowledge dissemination and public engagement. It is an effective way of sharing your research with non-specialist audiences to create broader interest in your work. It is always worth pitching an article idea or writing to them to enquire about the kinds of articles they are looking for or accept.
Understand the different writing styles and be willing to adapt your own writing
Each journal and publication – whether print or online, academic or commercial – has its own style guidelines and specifications. Any academic or writer wishing to submit an article for consideration will need to adhere to their specifications. Get ahead of the game by seeking out the publication’s ‘instructions/guidelines for authors’ before you start work, and ensure that you adhere to these guidelines throughout. You stand a better chance of being accepted if you fulfill their requirements.
It is also always a good idea to read a number of articles from your targeted publication, to understand their main focus and themes, the style and ‘voice’ employed in the writing, and the kind of formatting they request (for example, for tables and figures, and referencing).
Network and make academic friends
Publishing opportunities can also arise from making connections with other academics in your field. Attend and present at conferences whenever the opportunity arises, and make a point to speak to other conference speakers or participants. You never know who may be in the process of compiling a book of articles/essays and may be interested in including your work.
Alternatively, if you establish good connections with fellow academics in your discipline, you could collaborate and compile/edit a book on a novel or niche area of research. This may also be an option if you organised an academic symposium or conference – it is not uncommon for conference papers to be collated and published either in a special issue of a journal or as a book.
Getting help from the experts
When you come to writing your actual article, there are many other issues to consider, including, for example, how to structure a journal article, research and publishing ethics, or editing and proofreading to meet the specifications of the journal.