10 Reasons to Do a PhD by Publication

It's two days after my defense and I am too awake to sleep. What a hell of a ride my PhD time has been. I am not only talking about the good friends and colleagues that I met on the way, but also the time that I actually spent writing my PhD. This has been an unforgettable period in my life. One of the reasons why it has been such a lasting memory was my intuition to do a PhD by publication. Let me tell you ten reasons why I enjoyed it so much and why you may consider a PhD by publication, too:

1 You Work Like an Academic

When starting off your PhD journey, you may want to feel being part of the research circus. Doing a PhD by publication makes you definitely a guest at the party. You are going to suffer and celebrate as anyone else. How else will you find out if research is something for you?


2 The Thrill May Get You Further

Everytime you publish a paper or set up a new project, or review some data, your heart is going to make a little jump. There are many little thrills on the way while publishing that may keep you entertained and motivated. You have to see them and embrace them.


3 You Have Seizable Projects

When you start your first paper, you will still be enthusiastic because you just started your PhD. This first boost may quickly dry out. A new paper with new co-authors from different countries adds some spice to your journey. So every time you start a new paper, you may feel a new motivation that keeps you going.


4 Reviews May Improve Your Research

Receiving a reject always hurt, but after some time you may realize that the input you receive increases your chances to get published the next time. Revisions from your peers improve the quality of each paper. This way the papers of your thesis have already run through several quality cycles and defending it will be much easier.


5 Your Job Chances Increase

If you want to continue an academic career or not, trying and being able to publish is a quality signal of your work. Even in practice, there exists an acknowledgement of the needed skills to accomplish such an endeavour. Writing various projects trains you for the skill set that is needed in practice, such as being able to deal with high uncertainty, increased stress, and various dead-lines.


6 You Work in a Team of Experts

On top, you prove yourself to work in a team. It means to promote your project and win other team mates to support you, discuss the plan and the vision of the research project, divide the work and motivate everyone to become invested in the project. Finally, it also means to celebrate together the success or share the failures if a project didn't go as planned.


7 You Support Your Supervisor

For your supervisor, it is obviously a relieve if you support his work with more publications. When you write a book it may not contribute to his research reputation as much as publications do. While books are dying, publications are becoming more and more relevant. Therefore, doing three years or more something that also helps your supervisor is certainly a good thing. You may feel more comfortable during your PhD when you know that your supervisor will also benefit from it.


8 You Qualify for International Conferences

Attending conferences is definitely one of the best things you can do during your PhD. Now, doing a PhD by publication may not only qualify you to go to conferences, but also requires you to go to conferences to meet with your co-authors and get feedback before submission from other experts. 


9 Others May Read and Cite Your Work

Indeed, when you think about what you want to do with these three to five years of your PhD life, the first thing that comes to my mind, is doing something that lasts, that people care about, to leave something behind for good. If you follow this idea, you may have to acknowledge that papers get cited and become part of the scientific discussion more easily than books nowadays. There is a good chance with a PhD by publication to be recognized and read by your peers.


10 You Have A Calm Finish

In the last weeks, I often heard from many PhD students how stressed out they were, how much time they invested to re-write and format their dissertation. In my case, I wrote an introduction and a conclusion, thought about a title, something that holds it all together and that was it. No all-nighters, no stress, it rather felt like driving home and having some 10 miles left. Things felt like a deja-vu, as if you have been there already and you just need to follow your intuition.


Let me just say that doing a PhD by publication isn't an easy ride and you may find definitely 10 reasons why you shouldn't do it. But, if you are unsure which road to take, maybe one or two of the mentioned reasons above convinced you to take the risk and try it. It's definitely worth it! 

I hope you liked this text. Please feel free to comment and share it. Subscribe to my blog to get some weekly thoughts about the PhD, startups and social media. And follow me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter (@MarcelHofeditz)

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