Entry-Level Ways to Start Publishing

Some research students jump right into their publishing careers. They create ambitious plans, draft papers for high-ranked journals, and build up a healthy list of publications during their study.

But that doesn’t come easily to everyone. A great many research students want to publish in academic journals, but have no idea where to start. If that’s you, a great first step is to contact the Library. They have a ‘Get Published’ LibGuide full of useful information, and the Liaison Librarians are available to give personalized advice about getting published in your field. They will run their ‘Publishing Your Research’ workshop next year as well, so keep an eye on the Library workshops page for that.

There are also some initial steps you can take to get into publishing without leaping straight into a sole-authored journal article. If you’re not confident with your academic writing or publication prospects, here are a few suggestions for entry-level ways to get started.

Co-author an article

It takes a lot of work to write a journal article. Obviously, you have to do the research and write it up; but then there’s also the substantial job of selecting a journal, becoming familiar with their submission requirements, liaising with editors, and going through the peer-review process (including revisions, which can be very time-consuming).

Getting published can be a heck of a lot easier if you have co-authors to guide you and share the workload. Many research students co-publish with their supervisors; some co-publish with other students in their programmes or academics they meet at conferences. If you’re invited to co-publish, great! But you can also make it happen yourself by suggesting a paper idea to people with whom you work well.

Just be aware that when you co-author, you share the credit for your publication. Different disciplines have different ways of treating co-authorship, but in general, co-authored papers will count for less in your CV than sole-authored papers.

Write a book review

A lot of journals publish reviews of new books relevant to their field. Writing those reviews is something that many academics don’t particularly want to do, since book reviews aren’t peer-reviewed and don’t count for much on CVs or in promotion applications. While it’s true that writing book reviews won’t launch you into an academic career, it can be a valid way for emerging researchers to develop a little credibility and a lot of confidence. It can even be an efficient use of time if your research requires you to read the book anyway.

Some journals put out notices of the books they want reviewed, and ask for volunteers. Alternatively, if there is a particular new book that interests you, you can try volunteering your reviewing services to the editors of related journals (as long as they publish book reviews). Once you’ve found a journal willing to commission your review, you can read this guide for some parameters on how to write it.

Write for a blog or news site

If the prospect of writing for an academic journal is too intimidating, you can always beef up your portfolio by writing and publishing through other channels.

You may like to consider writing for professional magazines or trade publications related to your area of research. And you can always write for us here at Thesislink! We are open to submissions or story pitches from AUT research students, and we can guide you through the writing process. Find more details here.

To reach an even wider audience, you could consider writing for a news site. The Conversation is a great example; its content is written by academics who contribute articles in a journalistic (but still evidence-based) style. The Conversation accepts story pitches from PhD candidates (though not Masters at this time) as long as you’re under the supervision of an academic. If they accept your story pitch, you’ll get to work with a professional editor to refine your story for publication. Register to become an author here.

While these options can be good ways to start publishing, academia does tend to place higher emphasis on peer-reviewed journal articles than other forms of media. So feel free to start here, but be sure to work towards journal articles too!

About Anaise Irvine

Dr Anaise Irvine is the Editor of Thesislink and leads the Researcher Education and Development team at Auckland University of Technology. Her PhD research analysed how contemporary films and novels represent genetic engineering as a social justice issue. These days she works with researchers at all levels to improve their research skills, and the most obscure of her own research skills is being able to turn novels into phylogenetic trees!

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