General considations

Publishing papers during your PhD candidature requires some foresight and effective planning. The simplest way to start publishing papers is to ask your advisor and colleagues about what type of papers would be most suitable to publish in the early stages of your career. A useful starting point is writing a review paper that reviews the current state of knowledge of your research topic, identifies the gaps in the literature, and fills these gaps with novel approaches from your own research. This not only writes a lot of the necessary content needed for a literature review within your thesis, but also helps builds a knowledge foundation on your research topic from which to articulate and generate new ideas.

To take this idea and publish as a paper requires knowing what journals are best suited for the message of your paper. See the ‘How can I get information about a journal?’ section for detailed information on this. A useful resource is Scopus (, a citation database that provides details on many academic journals, including links to their individual websites. Another useful resource is the bibliography of common or popular research papers on your research topic. This indicates what journals will accept the type of questions, methods, and results within your field and thus of your own research.

Practical example for Life Sciences

Within the life sciences, using the current state of knowledge on ecological processes, patterns, methods, and challenges provide useful starting points to build a first paper on your specific field. Addressing long-standing ecological challenges, such as predicting the impact of human-induced climate change on biodiversity, requires highly cross-disciplinary approaches, a diverse suite of methods, and many data. This creates opportunities to collaborate broadly, which can inspire new approaches to instigate the initial papers you wish to publish.

Practical example for Social Sciences

Within the social sciences the easiest way to gain two publications is to aim for lower-tier journals, however, this may not stand you in good stead on the job market. The most ideal method in terms of time utilisation and optimising the likelihood of publication is to ensure you have a strong theoretical and methodological basis for your research then aim to submit your work to mid-level journals that still have a decent impact factor, such as PLOS ONE.

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