10 easy ways to make sure you have no publication record when you finish your PhD and forever after

Since posting this I have created a slideshow highlighting some of the key points, along with those from the subsequent post about not getting read or cited.

There is a lot of pressure on doctoral students and early career academics to publish. Want even the slightest chance of getting job? Publish. Want anyone other than your examiners to read your work? Publish. Want to actually contribute to knowledge? Publish. What to do the ethical thing and deliver what was promised to the people who funded your work, or those who contributed to it through support, helping with data etc? Publish.

Now, some of you may wish to do those things, but in my experience there seem to be plenty of people out there who don’t. They see publication as the ultimate stain their good reputation, the catastrophe to end all catastrophes, the academic apocalypse. They are the publishaphobes.

Well there is good news! By following these few and easy rules, you too can make sure your work gathers dust on library shelves (or better still in the basement), so that no-one ever reads it, and the labour of love that has invaded the last 3+ years of your life can all come to nothing more than some letters before or after your name. Perhaps the non-publishing option makes sense because you’re an intellectual fraud and are afraid of getting found out.

1. Keep your papers locked away in your computer / desk drawer

By far the easiest way to make sure you never have anything published is to never actually send anything off for review. Reasons for this may be fear of critical feedback and perfectionism (see below), but it’s worth making this simple but powerful point: NOT sending your paper (or book proposal etc) off is the only 100% safe guarantee to make sure you NEVER get published. Simples. When you wonder how those stellar professors, or the students / postdocs who seem to be on a fast-track to tenured jobs and academic stardom got so many publications, the answer is: they sent lots of stuff off for review (notwithstanding all the rejections they got along the way).

2. Wait until your paper is perfect before you submit it

You’ve realised that you have to submit something in order for it to get published. Well done you! But you know it’s good to be good to stand a chance, so you’re going to let it sit for a while and come back and tweak it later. You know you don’t take rejection or harsh feedback well, so better to get it perfect first, right? WRONG. Perfectionism is the enemy of publication. you’ll never write anything perfect so stop trying.

3. Send half-baked crap off while suffering EOS

The perfect counterpart to perfectionism. Or should that be imperfect? Pat Thomson has written an excellent blog post; about ‘early onset satisfaction’ (EOS) – a bad thing for writing and writers: “feeling too happy with a piece of writing meant that you didn’t rewrite and rewrite as often and as hard as you ought to” (the phrase being attributed to Mem Fox). Pat recalls a time when she was reviewing an article for a journal and came to the conclusion that the author had been struck with EOS, and probably hadn’t given it to anyone else to read, or ‘if they had, I’d have taken bets that they hadn’t asked anyone to ask them the hard questions – like – so what, and why should I care?’. Atta boy! Way to go! The peer review process isn’t 100% foolproof, so there is a small chance that someone will publish the rubbish that your bout of EOS has duped you into regarding as brilliant; but by and large reviewers will pick it up and ensure a quick and firm rejection (or major revisions). Phew!

4. Be crushed by rejection and negative feedback

Second only to not sending your written work out is this: sending it out, but then buckling completely when it gets rejected. There must be hundreds of (potentially) good papers stuck in limbo because their authors are defeated by something as inconsequential as rejection from one or more journals. So the editors and reviewers didn’t like your paper? EITHER: yes, they’ve pronounced true judgement on your intellectual worthlessness and the irrelevance of your research (in which case by all means leave your paper to rot in the depths of your hard drive); OR perhaps you went for the wrong journal, need to clarify your argument etc, (in which case get cracking on finding a different journal / making revisions, and get it out there again. no excuses).

5. Ignore word limits and reference styles

A fantastic way to get your paper bounced back to you before the editor has even read a word. The journal has a limit of 4,000 words including references, but your study is special, so all the rules for being succinct and equality of space in the issue should be disregarded just for you. Maybe you’ve used qualitative data so need long quotes from interviews (wow! what a pioneering thing you’re doing! Interviews!). Maybe there’s a lot of literature in your field, so you need 2,000 words just of lit review (wow! no-one else has read as much as you!). Maybe your theoretical framework is complex and requires detailed, lengthy explanation (wow!… [you get the message]). A journal editor worth their salt will open your paper, check the word count and bounce it right back to you if it is over.

Perhaps you’ve actually bothered to think about a key argument, and redrafted your paper so it is now a succinct argument that fits within the word limit (or is even well below it so when the reviewers ask for more explanation you have some room for manoeuvre). But fear not – you can still make sure you get rejected quicksmart. Each journal has a clearly specified reference style. But formatting references is boring. Or maybe you haven’t learned to use Endnote properly. Or maybe you think even though all other academics format their own references, the copyeditors should do this for you. Maybe you think the doi numbers in the new APA 6th reference style can be ignored (because you don’t have them and can’t be arsed to go and look them up for all the references in your bibliography). Way you go! You just got yourself a rejection! [I’m not joking: I foolishly neglected to look up the differences between APA 5th and 6th, and had a paper de-submitted from a journal and was smartly told to get the references right if I wanted my paper to be considered].

6. Pay no regard to the aims, scope, and recent content of the journal

Another brilliant way to avoid your work getting in the public domain is to do everything you can to secure a resounding rejection from the editor. Better still, you can get yourself rejected before your paper even gets sent out for review. By some miracle of accident or adversity you’ve got a paper under the word limit, with correct references. You heard from a friend that the Polynesian Quarterly is a highly respected journal, so you send your paper about political resistance in the slums of Detroit off to the editor. You’re not stupid, you see it isn’t a direct fit, but your research is just so good, they’ll want the paper. And anyway, this journal has a big word limit which you need. BOING! Back it comes with a: thanks, but no thanks (the first of these thanks really means: ‘what were you thinking?! why did you waste my precious time?). Now this is a fairly drastic example, but time and again I hear editors (and experience myself as an editor and reviewer) saying a prime reason for rejection is lack of fit with the journal.

There is a parallel here for book proposals. Your mate published her PhD through Publisher X, so you send your proposal in to them, too. A bigger BOING. Publishers have lists, scope, and priorities just like journals. (Except the fishing ones (often from Germany) who emailed you and said they’d like to publish your PhD; but you’re not considering them, are you?).

(If, on the other hand, you’d like your paper to go out for review, see the end of my previous post on selecting journals).

6. Write one title / abstract, and then a completely different paper

Almost as effective as a complete mismatch between your paper and the journal, is a complete mismatch between your title / abstract, and the main text. If a rejection is what you’re looking for, promising one thing and delivering another is a fairly safe way to go. Set the editor and reviewers up with grand yet specific expectations, but then write something that drifts off course completely and concludes in an utterly surprising way. That way you will confuse, disappoint, frustrate and irritate all the important people in one go.

With book proposals, a great way to get no interest all in your work is to get it send to the wrong sub-department. I did this brilliantly in a recent proposal I sent off to Routledge. The book I had in mind was about professional practice and learning, firmly within established fields of educational research. However my proposal clearly left the first reader at Routledge that it was a book about early childhood development. (It’s about child and family health practices). It got sent to the early childhood people and was swiftly rejected. As of course I would expect. This is not me moaning about Routledge: this is me saying I should have done a better job at making it clear where my work is located academically.

7. Give it all away for free

Please note: a number of people have taken issue with the points I make below. I won’t edit them here, so that the replies and comments make sense. But I will re-quote from the journal submission process to clarify what it is I am warning about. I am essentially saying that you need to make sure you can tick this box: “Confirm that the manuscript has been submitted solely to this journal and is not published, in press, or submitted elsewhere.” I have approved and published the replies because I think it’s important to be open and to be clear that there are different views on this matter. What’s really crucial is that you think carefully and seek informed advice.

Publishers publish to make money. They’re in it for profit. By and large they are not charities. All the big publishers gobbling up all the journals do so because they see there’s money to be made. How do they make their money? Because people or libraries, pay for access to journals, because people want to read them. And why do people want to read them? Because they can read something there that they can’t read elsewhere: something new!

So a great way to avoid anyone ever wanting to publish your work (in book or journal form), is to make sure that it’s all already out there in the public domain, preferably on a blog or academia.edu or a open access conference website. That way, when you’re asked to tick the box about original work, you can’t do so and your publishing treadmill grinds to a sticky, rusty halt. (Yes conference papers that get developed into articles are fine, and your thesis can be turned into a book; but you’ve got to be careful about it).

There’s a middle ground here. Before you finish your PhD, or perhaps shortly afterwards, you’re likely to get an email from a publishing company, saying they’d like to publish your PhD as a book. You’re asked to send your manuscript in, and miraculously, within a short time you’ve got the offer of a contract. No proposal. No reviewers’ comments. Just the offer. Your work will be out there, in a book with an ISBN, for sale on amazon etc within days. Problem is, other academics won’t really take this seriously as an academic book, because they’re not convinced a thorough peer review process was undertaken. I’ve used one of these publishers to publish a report that otherwise would have been printed in-house at my uni. Neither are great academic coups, but the published version is at least available online and reaches a wider audience. It doesn’t count as a book on my CV or for my research output. So if you want to show off your shiny book to your friends, and feel good about having got your work out there, but don’t care about your long term academic reputation and publishing prospects, go ahead.

8. Trap your paper in inter-author disputes

Many of us co-author journal papers with colleagues. If you’re hoping to avoid publication, a strong tactic is to make sure there is no clarity around authorial roles and sign-off. Not discussing what contributions, rights and responsibilities are expected from each author is a great way to start. Then, all being well, your draft can get stuck in limbo as authors keep adding changes, undoing the changes their colleagues have just made, and no-one knows who ultimately says ‘Enough! Let’s just send it off!’.

9. Only the best will do

Other students publish in poxy journals with low impact factors. You, however, are the next Einstein / Piaget / [insert relevant superstar here]. You’re head and shoulders better than all the other students around you who frankly, probably barely even qualify for MENSA, and can write their IQ without using standard form. You don’t want to pollute your academic CV with low- or mid-status journals. High status might not even match your utter brilliance. No, for you, it’s got to be Nature, New Scientist, BMJ, [insert your field’s top journal with uber-high rejection rates here]. Nothing else will do. You can say one thing to your publication track record: byeeeeee! [except it doesn’t exist anyway]

10. Cheat: send your article off to more than on journal at once

When the journal submission system asks you if you’ve sent the same paper off to any other journals, they don’t really care, do they? Luckily for all you publishaphobes out there, sending off the same paper to two (or more) journals at once doesn’t double (or triple) your chances of publication. It annihilates them. If you get found out (and chances are you will, because, guess what, editors talk to each other, know and use the same reviewers etc), not only is your work in an article-shaped coffin, but your the dirt is being piled on the remains of what was (potentially) your academic career. (This point neglects the idiocy of sending the same paper to two journals: they all have different aims, scope, length, styles, conversation histories – you’d have to be pretty naive to think that this is a way to go anyway, even if it wasn’t one of the seven deadly academic sins).

(NB. With book proposals it may be acceptable to make contact with multiple publishers at once, but check with your supervisor and others first as to how this might play; also remember different publishers means your proposal will be different anyway).

To all the publishaphobes have a go at diagnosing your phobia. While I’d secretly love you all to remain as you are and lower the competition in journals and books for the rest of us, I think scholarship will be the better for your participation. To those who are up for it, remember these 10 easy steps, but above all, remember never to take them!

20 thoughts on “10 easy ways to make sure you have no publication record when you finish your PhD and forever after

  1. melanie king

    Interesting, but just went to a UTS workshop where the person giving the workshop said the opposite of #7 – that is perfectly acceptable to go to academic.edu or open source place prior to submitting to a journal. Which is correct?

    1. nickhopwood Post author

      Good question. This is in some ways complex and in some ways very simple. As a general rule, if an identical text exists for free online, why would any journal want to publish it? (They will be asking: why will people pay to read it in our journal when it’s freely available online?). Sometimes journals allow articles to be re-published in book chapters, but that’s a different matter.
      If there is a version of a paper available online that is different enough from what you send in to the journal, that’s no problem. The question is ‘different enough’: it will obviously develop through the peer review process anyway, but you usually do have to tick a box in the online submission system that says this is original work not available anywhere else. So maybe you drafted some of the discussion in a conference paper and have revamped and developed it: fine.
      Another complication is that once accepted, journals may permit a pre-publication word version to be made freely available through university repositories etc. This has the same words (usually pre-proofing) but does not have the typesetting, etc that comes with the article proper.
      I stand by my point that you have to be careful giving the game away for free if you later want it in a non open-access place. Writing that is formative but clearly different from what you submit is fine to put out there (but I’d suggest not automatically so: you want your IP to be clear, and clearly associated with good work. There are plenty of conference papers I’ve given which I wouldn’t want up online – the feedback helped me realise better what I want to say)

      1. nickhopwood Post author

        Hi are some comments from another reader of this blog, raising good points, too:

        “That´s brilliant, thanks!

        I guess another factor is insecurity and low self esteem, thinking that anyone is better than you and comparing yourself with great academic writing, forgetting that you are here to learn (but need to finish at some point!) but I read what you say and I guess is a matter of writing writing writing while reading reading reading and publishing publishing publishing…

        Anyhow thank you for sending all of this and doing it with humour, we need it!”

        I say in response:
        Yes self-esteem and infavourable comparisons are common, perhaps even inevitable (unless you’re the one who thinks you’re a genius and everyone around you is one sandwich short of a picnic). Some suggestions:
        1. Look at the best papers by the top profs – usually there will be a line of dates under the abstract or title, showing you that they went through a long process of reviews, revisions, etc, as well – no-one has it all plain sailing
        2. Ask yourself whether your behaviour / practices reinforce your insecurity and low esteem, or even allow it to become an excuse. I get nervous every time I hit ‘submit’ in a journal website – but I don’t let it stop me from doing it. The alternative is point #1 of my main blog.
        3. Remember that you are far from unique in your insecurity and low esteem. You’re in a great club with, I expect, quite a few Nobel prize winners. But plenty of people who share those feelings, also get on with publishing and are successful. So the difference isn’t the feeling insecure or making poor comparisons with the superstars: it’s how you respond to those feelings.

    2. statiscape

      Furthermore, at UTS it is compulsory to submit your thesis to the library – it ends up being indexed on Google within days, and will become one of the top results for your name. The whole thing can then be DOWNLOADED (not just viewed) by anyone via ePress (not just those who can log in). It’s not really made clear when you submit it that the university will be maximising the entire text for their own good publicity, including basically hijacking your name and removing control about what sorts of things dominate your academic profile or are publicly available. I think, given that this is going to increasingly be the case, saturating the web with content you choose can be better than letting institutions, publishers, and others take control of your reputation. Not that you should just freely publish things left and right, but maybe what you should suggest is balance. i.e. Writing one solid article that you pass on to senior academics to review, know is good, and wish to make freely available, on top of the things you selectively submit to journals. It could be a text that discusses a unique approach from your work; it could be a nicely reworked (less academic) version of your field notes (half of which are never used otherwise), or it could be a side project that you don’t have funding or academic support for, but feel strongly about. Bluntly, I don’t think it’s entirely correct to suggest that it’s not a good idea to make things freely available because 1) we have no choice and 2) it may be a necessary evil to ensure that we are the main producers of our own online image.

      1. nickhopwood Post author

        Interesting point, Statiscape, though I’m not sure I agree.

        UTS is not at all unusual in making your thesis available. In the UK, for example ALL doctoral theses are available as a copy of all of them is sent to each of the copyright libraries. I also then chose to make individual chapters available for download on my university web page for a while. UTS is doing nothing sneaky here – in fact it is my firm belief this is ethical practice – after all the public has paid for doctorates in Australia (at least for domestic students) – why shouldn’t they get to read the outputs?

        My point is more that things you wish to turn directly into papers should not and cannot (as a general rule) be already out there for free. There are lots of forms of your work that can and should be out there, but under the caveats that you don’t want to publish the same thing elsewhere, and also that you need to be careful in managing your IP.

        I’m not sure why your one solid article would be best of being freely available, rather than in a respected, established publication outlet (some of which are open access, but not all by a long means).

  2. Klara

    One additional important factor, at least in my current environment, is the boss. He is a perfectionist and is very hesitant to send out “small” papers. I think it’s essential to think about a potential paper outline as early as possible and make sure that the boss agrees that even though it may not be Nature, it can be valuable nevertheless. If you can present a good draft of your paper, I guess the boss is more likely to be agreeable to publishing it.

    1. nickhopwood Post author

      You raise a good point here, Klara, about situations with co-authorship. It is very important to set out and negotiate clear expectations and roles from the outset.
      There is a fine balance between senior academics wanting to make sure that anything published with their name on it is of high quality, and blocking ECRs from making an entree into the field with ‘smaller’ papers.

    1. nickhopwood Post author

      Juan Pablo
      Thank you for your comment. Number 7 has, as you’ll see from other replies and Twitter comments, proved quite controversial, and I think it is important for me to approve disagreements like yours (though I may take issue with the bold phrasing!).
      A number of students and others have talked about using open access etc to pre-publish etc.
      I think the web and other formats are very important for sharing drafts of ideas, conference papers etc.
      But there are two things I stand firmly by:
      1. The need to manage your IP carefully, and to make sure that the introduction of your ideas in the world happens under appropriate copyright control and in the most appropriate venues. I worry that sometimes students are putting stuff out there too liberally (especially without authorship, date and copyright assertions) and risk having their ideas stolen.
      2. All the journals I publish in these days require me to tick a box saying the work being submitted to is original and not available elsewhere in the public domain (for free or otherwise). There can be early versions of the paper from conferences, or freely available thesis chapters that draw on the same material and communicate the same idea. But the text itself has to be new (maybe a little but of copy and paste). Otherwise, how can you comply with the journal requirements? Thinking again, why would Routledge or another company publish a paper that is available free in identical form elsewhere? Either they are paid to release copyright, or pre-publication word versions are available (lots of universities do this – the typesetting and page numbers, doi etc aren’t there so there is still something different left for the journal to publish).

      Thanks, Juan Pablo for your comment.

    2. nickhopwood Post author

      And to be very specific about what I am referring to, here is a quote from the submission process of a major journal in my field. Authors are required to tick a box:

      “Confirm that the manuscript has been submitted solely to this journal and is not published, in press, or submitted elsewhere.”

      What I am trying to say in my point number 7, is not to make things available for free that mean you are not able to tick this box. The important thing here is ‘the manuscript’ – which does not preclude related papers, early drafts etc.

      1. Juan Pablo Alperin

        Nick, I wrote my comment in the heat of the moment. I still think #7 is completely inaccurate and stems from misunderstanding an misconceptions. What frustrates me about is that it goes contrary to the scholarly endeavour, which has at its core the sharing and creation of knowledge.

        Regarding your last comment, confirming that it has not been submitted elsewhere for publication refers only to the exact expression of the work, not to the ideas contained therein. Blogging and otherwise putting your ideas out there is actually a great idea, lets you quickly jump on getting credit for them, and helps get your name out. Academics deal in reputation, not in dollars, and getting recognition is a grad student’s greatest challenge.

        The real middle ground is to put as many of your ideas out there, but not the full paper. And when you do publish your paper put it somewhere so that will be widely accessible—preferably in an open access journal that _will_ give the content away for free. If its in a commercial journal, you should self-archive it on your webpage or in an institutional repository. In fact, you should make sure that when you sign that copyright agreement with the publisher, you ensure and fight for the right to be able to do that. If you give it all away for free, it means that it can be widely read, you will get more recognition, you will be cited more, cited more quickly, and most importantly, you will be making your ideas public. After all, that’s what publishing means.

      2. nickhopwood Post author

        Hi again Juan Pablo

        I’m enjoying this to-and-fro and it is helping me clarify what I’m trying to say. In relation to your second comment, I think we are actually quite in agreement:

        1. I agree totally that scholarly endeavour is for much more than the restricted pay-to-access journal outputs and expensive academic books. It is not only desirable, but in my view an ethical obligation to make outcomes available freely and in an accessible (ie. not too technical) way. This usually means formats other than closed journals and books etc. Blogs, sure! Conference papers for research users, bring it on. On other parts of my blog webpage you will see ways I have been doing this. I spend a lot of my time giving workshops and talks, with texts and resources that I encourage people to share freely. I have written easily digestible research reports that are online for free for everyone. I’ve published in a magazine for teachers. I’ve written Think Pieces for professional organisations that are free to everyone. I in no way mean to discourage people from effective engagement with communities and users. That, at least where I work, is seen as a somewhat different activity from publication.

        2. Academics deal in reputation, not in dollars. Yes. But publishers deal in dollars. And reputation depends in a big part, on publication in particular venues. There is a balance to strike there, as you suggest. I agree that getting your ideas out there with your name associated with them is important – and indeed blogs, other texts etc can boost the readership of your work in formal journals etc, which as you say can lead to more citations. But you have to make sure it’s the formal, respected stuff that is cited if you want it to count for job applications, promotions etc. Peer review still counts for a lot, and stuff that isn’t reviewed can be regarded as less valuable in terms of reputation (when the issue is publishing; when the issue is engagement, that stuff can be impressive). Yes there is value in getting your ideas out there quickly on blogs, but only as part of a clear strategy to manage the formal side too. Fact is, without publications in serious journals / books, you’re not going to get a look in at that job or promotion application. All the engagement stuff is great (and as I’ve said, a moral imperative in my view), but can’t replace the hard core peer review stuff.

        We often don’t have much choice to negotiate copyright agreements with giants like Routledge, T&F, Elsevier. But I have mentioned the practice of making word versions freely available. I support and encourage it and always tick that box when entering my publication details in my institution. In some fields researchers are increasingly required to pay to buy back copyright from publishers, but this is often $100s if not $1000s and so not an option for many of us currently.

        I like to put the abstract on my webpage and encourage people to email me for a copy, which of course I have in pdf and can send them freely. That way I also get to engage with people reading my work. I would not recommend putting something on your own website (ie the full journal version) unless you’re very clear you have the legal permission to do so. The copyright forms we habitually sign in social sciences (the area I know very well) do not allow this. Better to be safe and go through uni repositories etc. And give people teasers through conference papers, blogs etc. Anyone who can be bothered to click an ’email me’ link and ask can get it for free anyway.

        And I really reiterate how important is to be careful when putting ideas out there – do so in a way that makes as sure as possible that others can’t steal your IP. It’s fine to have your idea out there on a blog, but if someone else then publishes it in Nature / BMJ / [top journal in your field] first, who’s going to get the glory? Not you. And, sadly, this happens all too often.

        Thanks Juan Pablo for your comment

  3. Juan Pablo Alperin

    My primary objection to your #7 is in the provocative title you gave it. I very much would like every academic out there, to give their work away for free. That does not preclude choosing carefully what venues to publish what in.

    Yes, you cannot put the exact version of your work on your webpage if you then want to publish it. But you almost all publishers will let you put your preprint (the version you submitted, pre-peer review) as soon as you get an acceptance (as part of the standard copyright agreement). Over 60% of publishers also allow you to self-archive the postprint (the peer-reviewed version) as well. T&F (which owns Routledge) is an exception, as they ask for an 12-18 month embargo on that version. Sage is another one, but they are actually amenable to being flexible if you request the rights by sending an addendum to the copyright agreement (see: http://www.sparc.arl.org/author/addendum.shtml).

    In any case, no journal will stop you from submitting something because you’ve posted pieces of it before online. I don’t know of any graduate student that labours over a paper, gets it into its final draft form, and then decides not to submit it to a journal. If its good enough for a top-tier journal, they have likely been polishing it and tailoring to that journal in the first place.

    Learning your rights as an author is super important, but primarily so you can fight for those rights and ensure you can circulate your work more broadly. Not so that you can give them all away as soon as a “top” journal asks you to.

    I worry your post sends the wrong message, even if I can agree with what you’re saying in your more nuanced approach in the comments. I would edit the original post to make sure you’re not discouraging the circulation of knowledge.

    1. nickhopwood Post author

      Nice points. It remains true that for many of us T&F is an inescapable giant. 60% of publishers does not equate to 60% of journals. With regard to the emerging flexibility that you mention, that is not something widely discussed or known about where I am.

      The provocation and flippancy of the title fits with the general tone of the blog, and I assume my readers are all smart enough to respond in ways that make sense. I write a very black and white view not because the world is that simple, but because I hope the starkness gets people thinking – which our exchange is illustrating nicely.

      You say “I don’t know of any graduate student that labours over a paper, gets it into its final draft form, and then decides not to submit it to a journal”. I know of lots. And lots. And I know this also happens to post-docs, lecturers. There is empirical evidence out there showing that to be the case.

      I considered editing the original post, but think it’s better to leave as it is and have the comments therefore make sense. You’ll see I have added a caveat under the title of point 7 to flag this and direct people to our discussion and other responses.

      I appreciate your readiness to stand up for what’s important, and to engage in respectful dialogue (despite the rather brutal entree you made 🙂 ).

      PS I think the university sector nowhere near punches its weight in relation to copyright, journal fees etc. There was an interesting piece in the Economist the week before last on this issue. I don’t think it’s going to go away, and I don’t think grad students, ECRs, even individual senior Profs should be shouldering the responsibility for this change alone (not that I think you’re saying that).

      1. Juan Pablo Alperin

        Thanks Nick. Apologies for that brutal entree. You got me just as I finished a week of giving information to the Stanford Graduate School of Education (where I’m a doctoral student) on this very issue. We’re in the process of voting for a Student Open Access policy, similar to one passed by our faculty in 2008: https://ed.stanford.edu/faculty-research/open-archive/oapolicy

        Promoting this policy was my attempt at raising awareness of these very issues.

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  6. Dave77

    You missed the two, in my opinion, most important failure modes for publishing.

    Firstly, failed experiments(or calculations/modelling), in such a way so as to be useless.
    Not a null hypothesis, rather a “the lab equipment caught fire/lab flooded/ laser melted/ calculations were wrong due to errors/etc”
    i.e, a failure to obtain publishable data.

    Secondly, supervisor and collaborators refusing to accept papers not in nature or science yet being unwilling to help or offer advice or even criticism on experiments/calculations/paper writing.
    Then the student is left unable to even write a paper themselves, as their co authors do not agree to the paper yet removing them as authors is fraudulent as they may have contributed grant funding/ rare material samples/ laboratory space and equipment/ etc.

    Two failure modes that, once encountered, cannot be overcome by the student as it is too late.

    1. nickhopwood Post author

      Hi Dave77. Thank you for raising these points. Not working in lab fields I am not aware of this kind of thing. Failed experiments I guess have their equivalent in social science when our fieldwork plans fall apart. But there is usually something rescueable even if we have to change sites or methods. The second point is a real concern. Authorship is tricky and varies from discipline to discipline but in my view the blocking of a student’s possibility to publish by either severely restricting possible journals and/or withholding appropriate support seems grossly unfair. As always there may be a piece of the picture I’m missing. But thank you for the comments.


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