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How many publications do you aim to have by graduation?


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Hi,

I was speaking with a friend in who is studying clinical psychology who said that the students in her PhD program aim to publish between 5-10 articles.

Is there a recommended target number of articles for PhD students in your field? If so, how many and how did you plan your studies to meet that target?

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Something like 3-5 first author publications in good journals seems like the bare minimum if you want to get a good post-doc or head straight towards the tenure-track in Social Psychology.

However, of course, the more solid publications you have, the better.

Edited by C is for Caps Locks
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In my field it's said to be good to have one publication by the time you graduate. Two and you're in very good shape. Many students won't have any. (Or, they'll only have proceedings papers.) So, these things can vary greatly. I would guess that papers in my field are longer and the publication cycle is (substantially) slower, hence the difference. Also probably at least in part attributable to differences in methodology. 

In any event, I had more than one by the time I graduated, but I definitely made sure to have at least one, which meant starting to submit relatively early, because it's entirely possible for a paper to take several years from submission to appearing in print. My very first journal paper was submitted/revised over a period of about 11 months (which is considered fast!), then was in press for 3 years, so a total of 4 years all told until it was out. I submitted it in the summer after my second year, saw it in print around the time of my defense. I think this is probably sufficiently different from your experience that more details aren't going to help you here.

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This definitely varies a lot by field. Our graduate advisor told us that one is not required but very beneficial. After that, you get to diminishing returns, where two is better but not hugely so, and a third will probably not change things much. For the most part, in our book field, an original and book-worthy dissertation appears to count more, once you've demonstrated that articles are a thing you can also do, and so after two it is generally better to focus additional research time on that big project. He told us that he ended up with a third article-worthy paper—and ended up saving it as something to publish during his first job, as it would help him more then. 

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This will vary even within the same field! Here are some examples within my field. The numbers are not really "average" numbers, but the number of papers you'd publish in order to be competitive for the top postdoc positions. I don't include other numbers because we rarely have a minimum paper count to graduate and if you're not aiming to go into academia, then your paper count isn't as important. The degree length is about 5-6 years.

If you are an astronomer that works on building instruments to go on telescopes or designing software to run telescopes, you might have 1 or 2 papers at the end of your degree. 

If you are an astronomer works on from large survey sets that takes several years to complete then you might have 2-3 papers by the end of your degree.

If you are an astronomer that works on specific stars or planetary systems, then you might end up with one paper for each system, which could be like 4-5 papers.

And if you are a theorist that works on new ideas of star/planet interactions, then you might have 6 or more papers.

How do committees evaluate these differences? Having your letter writers talk about the work you put into the paper is important, especially if you are in one of the subfields that produce fewer papers because each paper takes a lot more effort.

Also, committees do consider the number of years in your degree. Writing 4 papers in 5 years is more impressive than 4 papers in 6 years, with all else being equal.

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I'm at 4, first-author publications right now (5 if the one that's under review goes through). However, if we're being super honest, I'm somewhat disappointed about that. I feel I could have done more and I squandered my early graduate school years on stuff that did not lead into publications. 

Most of my friends/colleagues who have gone on to successfully obtain tenure-track positions had a bare minimum of 10 first-author publications in good journals so I plan on using my post-doc year to try and close that gap.

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23 hours ago, spunky said:

I'm at 4, first-author publications right now (5 if the one that's under review goes through). However, if we're being super honest, I'm somewhat disappointed about that. I feel I could have done more and I squandered my early graduate school years on stuff that did not lead into publications. 

Most of my friends/colleagues who have gone on to successfully obtain tenure-track positions had a bare minimum of 10 first-author publications in good journals so I plan on using my post-doc year to try and close that gap.

What field are you studying? I wonder if it is also a social science like my friend and I are studying.

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1 hour ago, 0002684179 said:

What field are you studying? I wonder if it is also a social science like my friend and I are studying.

It is, actually. It's a joint Quantitative Psychology/Educational Measurement program. I'm very close to graduating so I started comparing my CV with the CVs of people I knew that had gone on to obtain tenure-track positions and the first thing I noticed was that by the time they had graduated they had A LOT more stuff on their CV than what I have on mine right now :(

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  • 1 month later...

I didn't publish at all during my Masters. Most thesis Masters program don't even require that Masters research work be original research (i.e. it can just be a project that is a proof of concept, a literature review type thing, or something that reconfirms a previously known result using your own code/new code----this usually is a precursor project to PhD work).

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All of them! All the publications! I'm in the process of chatting with my advisor about turning my thesis into my first published work. But ideally...oh man, the sky's the limit really but at least 3-4 by the time I graduate. Is that a low number? I don't even know what is average for people to graduate with.

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Like everyone said above, this all really depends on your field and your research group. Some research groups have lower standards than others, not saying that their work is not as good, but have less expectations for the # of publications they expect you to have at the end of your PhD. Additionally, the personal circumstances the student is in should be considered, if you have no-funding and need to work a part-time or full-time job during your PhD, or if you have a wife and kids that take up a lot of time. In saying this, I have seen many PhD students do very well while raising a family, it all comes down to how you manage your time. 

I'm in the second year of my PhD in Physiology, and collectively between my MSc and PhD I have 25 publications, with 7 of these being first authors. If I continue this trajectory I should have ~50 publications and ~15 first author publications. 

 

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17 hours ago, MHarry said:

Like everyone said above, this all really depends on your field and your research group. Some research groups have lower standards than others, not saying that their work is not as good, but have less expectations for the # of publications they expect you to have at the end of your PhD.

This is very true. Also where your advisor is in their professional career is another factor. Newer professors in my field are expected to publish like crazy. I'm just finishing up my Masters and have 10 papers (6 primary/co-primary) and 3 in submission. Starting a new PhD program in the fall and it will be interesting to see how things change.

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Also, keep in mind what your end goal is. If you want to pursue a tenure track position at a high quality University in Canada, you need to publish like a mad man, unfortunately, the competition is extremely high for tenure tracked positions. For example, I have a colleague that is doing his Post-doc and he has 40+ co-authored publications, and ~10 first author publications, all in good journals. He can't even get an interview right now even though all portions of his CV are fantastic, and he has applied to several University jobs in Canada! Right now in applied sciences (Biology, Physiology, Kinesiology), the standard is incredibly high to get a tenure tracked job at a top University in Canada. If the career path you are taking does not require publications, my advice to you is to put all your efforts into finishing your thesis, and put as little time into your thesis as possible...at the end of the day, very few people are going to read it (sorry its true), and its just a document that is getting in the way of finishing your degree, view your degree as a stepping stone. Get in and get out. 

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  • 2 years later...
On 2/22/2017 at 12:38 AM, 0002684179 said:

Hi,

I was speaking with a friend in who is studying clinical psychology who said that the students in her PhD program aim to publish between 5-10 articles.

Is there a recommended target number of articles for PhD students in your field? If so, how many and how did you plan your studies to meet that target?

By the time I finished my PhD, I had 5 peer reviewed journal articles as first author, 1 peer reviewed book chapter in a university press as first author, 2 published conference abstracts, and 1 technical report for a government, bringing my publication count to 9.  Everyone told me it was extremely important to publish in my field of health. I am getting interviews for both post docs and TT jobs, and I think the reason folks are taking me seriously is because of my publication record. 

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Publication is very important in clinical psychology. I aim to finish with no less than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles of which no less than 10 should be first authors. 

I hope to have closer to ~30/~15.  I also expect to have 1-5 other CV line items per year (posters, talks, book chapters, etc.).

These are reasonable/typical numbers for the lab I'm joining. Excited and intimidated.

I'm at 1/1 now post-bach, so we're off to the races.

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On 3/27/2020 at 1:27 PM, Modulus said:

Publication is very important in clinical psychology. I aim to finish with no less than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles of which no less than 10 should be first authors. 

I hope to have closer to ~30/~15.  I also expect to have 1-5 other CV line items per year (posters, talks, book chapters, etc.).

These are reasonable/typical numbers for the lab I'm joining. Excited and intimidated.

I'm at 1/1 now post-bach, so we're off to the races.

Thanks for the post...Let us know in updates when you get published. It is nice to hear positive news in these dark times...

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On 4/4/2020 at 12:29 PM, Adelaide9216 said:

I am aiming for three. There are different components to my doctoral thesis project, that I could easily split into three different articles. 

That is exactly the number I am hoping for since my graduation back in 2019. I have one down, published in January 2020. Now I have two more to go. Let us know if you have submitted articles

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2 hours ago, Faith786 said:

That is exactly the number I am hoping for since my graduation back in 2019. I have one down, published in January 2020. Now I have two more to go. Let us know if you have submitted articles

I have one in review right now, should have the result of the review process by May 15. It isn't from my PhD, it's from my master's thesis though

Edited by Adelaide9216
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12 hours ago, Adelaide9216 said:

I have one in review right now, should have the result of the review process by May 15. It isn't from my PhD, it's from my master's thesis though

That is excellent!

I want to follow up to state that I have just submitted the first round of major revisions for a research paper (which was first submitted to a peer reviewed journal back in July 2019). 

If they accept all of my revisions, this will be my second research paper for 2020. 

I have prior peer-reviewed publications in 2019, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013...

I just started drafting a third research paper....I am hoping I can submit it to a journal by the end of April (the deadline for a special issue)...wish me luck!!

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1 hour ago, Faith786 said:

That is excellent!

I want to follow up to state that I have just submitted the first round of major revisions for a research paper (which was first submitted to a peer reviewed journal back in July 2019). 

If they accept all of my revisions, this will be my second research paper for 2020. 

I have prior peer-reviewed publications in 2019, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013...

I just started drafting a third research paper....I am hoping I can submit it to a journal by the end of April (the deadline for a special issue)...wish me luck!!

Amazing :) Good luck!

I just got the news yesterday that I will be writing a book chapter for a peer-reviewed book! I got the acceptance to my proposal!

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