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Publish or Perish

As graduate students or in the early years of teaching in higher education, you'll have (or be developing) a clear idea of your intellectual interests, a growing network of colleagues, and even a few publications on your CV. And you may also have a few questions about how to manage the publishing component of your career. "Publish or perish" has been the standard marching order since the creation of the tenure system, and you probably have to fall in step with it.

Publishing can be frustrating, because so much is outside of your control. But in this guide we’ll help you maximize your chances of publication and minimize your frustrations.

Scope & Purpose of this Guide

As a member of the academic community, you will be involved in research, teaching, clinical or professional practice (in some fields). One of the keys to research is communicating: perhaps through conference presentations, informal writing, and symposia. But communicating your research through formal publication in scholarly journals may well have the most direct bearing on your tenure and advancement within your institution.

If you have never before published in a scholarly journal, you may have some questions about the process. This guide addresses the following questions:

  • What kinds of articles should I try to publish? Should I co-author articles with colleagues?
  • How do I find appropriate journals for submitting my work, and does it matter if they are open access?
  • Where do I get ideas for paper topics and how can I turn my idea(s) into a publishable article?
  • How do I contact a journal?
  • What happens after submission: how long will it take, what happens during peer review, and what outcomes can I expect?

By the time you complete this guide, you’ll have answers to these questions, as well as a collection of tools and worksheets that will help you continue your learning process throughout your academic career.

Self Assessment

Rate your agreement with the following statements: (scale: 1 = completely disagree to 4 = completely agree)

  • I understand the publishing expectations for achieving tenure in my department and at my institution.
  • I can differentiate between types of scholarly articles.
  • I can explain the difference between ‘open access’ and web-based journals.
  • I can explain the difference between web-based journals and journals I access through my library’s database subscriptions.
  • I know which articles and journals are most relevant to my work.
  • I can explain what makes a journal ‘prestigious.’
  • I can explain a journal’s ‘impact factor.’
  • I know which journals best reach my audience.
  • I can name several tools that help me manage my bibliographies and citations.

How did you do? Lots of 1s and 2s mean that you are in the right place to learn more about the details of scholarly publishing. Lots of 4s means that you may be reviewing information you already know... or you may discover that you have misconceptions about some aspects of scholarly publishing. Publishing is undergoing immense change, in terms of volume, scope, and approaches to publishing. Even those ‘in the know’ need to refresh their knowledge.