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Some questions about publications


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Hey there,

A lot of times I have seen and heard that publishing an article in an International journal immensely helps in improving a PhD applicaion.

Now, there are certain questions which arise in my mind when I see this -

1) How does one search for journals?

2) Can any random person in the world publish an article? For example - A person who works in McDonalds suddenly decides he wants to pursue a PhD and starts writing an article to get it published in a journal.

3) Is affiliation to any organization or university required to publish an article? Is it necessary that one who wishes to get his article published has to be a student or a teacher? Can unemployed people also attempt to do it?

Please ignore if my questions come off as very basic, I am a newbie in the world of Academia.

Looking forward to any response, thank in advance

 

 

 

Edited by dreamerr33
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7 hours ago, dreamerr33 said:

A lot of times I have seen and heard that publishing an article in an International journal immensely helps in improving a PhD applicaion.

It certainly won't hurt your chances, but it's not expected that applicants will have done so. Frankly, your chances of getting a paper accepted in a good journal are pretty slim, and your chances of doing so in time for PhD applications are even slimmer (the process takes months and years, even if it's accepted at the first journal to which it's submitted).

 

7 hours ago, dreamerr33 said:

1) How does one search for journals?

Learning this is part of professionalization in your discipline. That you don't know yet is a pretty good indication that you shouldn't be trying to publish your work, since you aren't yet able to identify appropriate and good journals.

Generally speaking, one doesn't usually search for journals. Rather, one submits work to journals with which one is already familiar. You get familiar with journals by reading the work that's published in them. You want to be publishing in the same journals that you read the most. Your field probably has a mix of generalist and specialist journals. Your first task is to start figuring out which are which, which are the most prestigious in each category, which are slightly less prestigious but very good, etc. Googling around can help, but you're going to learn a lot more from (1) reading work yourself, (2) seeing which papers from which journals get assigned in graduate and undergraduate classes, and (3) seeing where established scholars who work on the same kinds of things as you do are publishing their work. For that last one, you should be skimming the CVs of people whose trajectory you hope to emulate (current PhD students, postdocs, assistant professors, associate and full professors, etc.).

7 hours ago, dreamerr33 said:

2) Can any random person in the world publish an article? For example - A person who works in McDonalds suddenly decides he wants to pursue a PhD and starts writing an article to get it published in a journal.

In theory, anyone can publish an article in a double-masked peer-reviewed journal, yes (although perhaps not any random person). In practice, the odds are stacked pretty high against that happening. Remember that once you get a PhD, you're a world-level expert on your subject. The kind of work that gets published (especially in good peer-reviewed journals; predatory and vanity presses are another thing) is world-class research by people with years--decades, even--of experience in the field. Rejection rates are field-dependent, but they usually range from 90-98%. That means that the quality is very high. You need more than just good ideas or good writing skills: you need to have a thorough mastery of your subject matter. And that's not something that you can pick up on the fly. It takes years of work: years of reading, writing, refining, presenting, getting feedback, etc. 

Think of math. In theory, yes--any old McDonald's worker could develop a good and interesting proof of a theorem (for example), and get it published. But the level of math required to do that kind of thing is much higher than most people ever get to. High school calculus isn't going to cut it. So that McDonald's worker would have had to spend quite a bit of time learning about, e.g., number theory, category theory, functional analysis, etc. It's entirely possible to do that on your own, but it's hard and most people aren't likely to succeed. The same holds for other disciplines. Things get a lot harder if your field of study requires data or lab equipment.

If you're an advanced undergraduate, then you've already got much more background than the average McDonald's worker. But it's still not usually enough. And if the journal doesn't implement double-masked review, then your odds are a lot slimmer (precisely because credentials matter for those journals). 

7 hours ago, dreamerr33 said:

3) Is affiliation to any organization or university required to publish an article? Is it necessary that one who wishes to get his article published has to be a student or a teacher? Can unemployed people also attempt to do it?

No, no, and yes. Although the same kinds of structural obstacles that I outlined above will apply here, too. At this stage, your default assumption should probably be that you're not ready to publish, unless someone with a PhD in the subject has read your work and suggested that you try to do so.

Edited by maxhgns
Typo.
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Also sometimes called double-blind: the idea is that your paper is anonymized (so no one can tell who wrote it) and then sent to reviewers whose identity is also kept secret from the author. The journal editor chooses these people based on their expertise in the area your paper is in. The editor decided what to do with the paper (accept, ask for revisions, reject) based on the referee reports. Since the referees don’t know who wrote the paper, their reports should be objective and based solely on the content of the paper — so your name and affiliation shouldn’t matter. 

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I would like to add to this that there are 'special' journals that target students and their research. I was an editor for a while for the Journal of European Psychology Students (only targets psych) and it's set up just like a real journal (we did have the 'experts' do reviews - profs were usually very happy to help students out). Biggest difference is that we do MANY rounds of feedback before we send out the manuscript for peer-review (usually to improve the writing). They're also a bit more easy going about sample sizes and the like (but are strict with methodology in any other way). Lit reviews are also published. However, doubt if it would really carry an awful lot of weight to publish in here for your application. 

I've had a talk about this with a prof from one of the top schools (NYU - social psych). He said the QUALITY matters a lot more than the quantity. He'd rather work with someone who published one extremely exciting paper or writing sample than a bunch of so-so papers. 

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  • 3 months later...

Since I'm only just dipping into this, I'd like to offer some, even though still very young, personal experiences.

Many students in my country get published before pursuing a PhD (I'm not one of them and have only just learned the process). They literally have a page full of publication before applying for PhD. Usually, they start to work a few years after their master or Bachelor and get involved in research projects. Once you are a part of the research then there are many opportunities for you to be a part of writing papers as well. Of course you don't get to be the first author right away, but you still have your name in the papers and you get to observe and learn from experienced writers and researchers. (I finally had the gut to ask my boss to lead a paper the other day).

As for looking for a journal. I actually finished submitting a paper a couple of weeks ago (Not my paper, but it was a task I was assigned to). What I did was 1) look at the journals that published your researchers' previous papers or papers that you read and were interested in 2) http://jane.biosemantics.org/suggestions.php offers great suggestion but not always 100% matched your interest 3) ask around for suggestions (your professors, your researchers, your friends who published, etc). After doing all that I compiled an excel list of around 10 potential journals before picking one for various reasons (publication fee, impact factor score, relevance to the paper, etc). I'm still very new to this area so looking forward to reading more about everyone's experiences. 

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