Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Why should students publish papers?
"dissertation as process" approach --the idea that a dissertation is a methodological exercise and does not have to be an important piece of original research worth publishing. You learn methods and skills in writing a dissertation, and then you go on to apply them later. Do I have to say that I disagree very strongly with this position?
Well, if you don't publish articles while still a student, then you won't have to worry about applying your dissertation skills (because you won't get an academic job). Here are some reasons why graduate students should publish papers:
(1) To build up a resumé in preparation for the job market. When an academic department is hiring a new faculty member, brand-new PhDs are at a definite disadvantage compared to scholars who have been done for a couple of years. The latter people have had time to publish articles and perhaps get a new fieldwork project going. They have more of a track record, which indicates to a search committee that they are a good bet. The only way a brand-new PhD can stack up against someone with three years of post-PhD work under their belt is if he or she has published a few papers and established a track record. And if you don't get started BEFORE doing your dissertation, you won't have time to get the papers out in time.
(2) To get experience doing the kinds of things that academic researchers must do. Academia is a meritocracy. "Publish or perish" is the way of life. Its a jungle out there. The sooner you get started submitting papers to journals (and doing other kinds of professional activities), the more sophisticated you will be when you complete your PhD and go on the job market. And the more success you will have with later publishing and other professional things.
(4) Because you can. If your seminar papers or conference papers are not good enough to publish, then you are in the wrong line of work. If you have what it takes to succeed in this field, then you are almost certainly sufficiently smart and well-read and creative and motivated to be publishing papers. Now students sometimes have issues of self-confidence and self-doubt (these are related to, but not the same thing as, graduate student paranoia). This is where your professors sometimes need to give you a kick in the butt to work up a couple of your papers into articles. I certainly benefited greatly from the butt-kicking abilities of my own dissertation committee.
So, get off your butt and submit one of your papers to a journal.