10 Reasons NOT to Do a PhD by Publication

After I wrote about the 10 Reasons to Do a PhD by Publication, I decided to write about the 10 reasons why not do it. This is because if you are doing a PhD by publication or by thesis, it actually may not matter. Never forget that there is no better way of doing a PhD. Only doing a PhD is what matters.

1 You Can't

Well, that has been the most obvious reason. The U.S. system, for instance, doesn't allow for a PhD by publication. Its highly structured PhD program of 10 semesters focuses on writing a thesis at the end. In other countries, such as Great Britain or Germany, it depends from faculty to faculty if you are able to do a PhD by publication. 

image.jpg

2 You Dislike High Uncertainty

Doing a PhD by publication means not knowing when you get published. It confronts you with the uncertainty of not being able to fully control the success of your thesis. As a rule of thumb, imagine being in control of half of what determines your success. If you rather feel uncomfortable in such a situation, which may hinder your productivity, I recommend to not do a PHD by publication. For those that look for a thrill, here are some tips how to deal with this uncertainty.

image.jpg

3 You Feel Uncomfortable with Cherry Picking

When doing a PhD by publication you should focus your attention on the most relevant topics and data that you discover during your PhD time. Although the publication may not ultimately fit your thesis topic, it could help you getting your needed number of publications. As a result, this sort of cherry picking may decrease the coherence of your papers. In fact, the topic may get broader than you first thought. 

image.jpg

4 Early Outing Stresses You

Publishing early during your research career may make you uncomfortable because you feel that you would benefit more from taking more time than rushing things. Indeed, you should ask yourself if you are ready for the fact that your thinking hasn't been top notch. Such early outings could also bear the potential to close some doors for you that you may have been able to enter on a later point of time. But always remember that closed doors may open again.

image.jpg

5 You Prefer to Strive for Perfection

It makes no sense when doing a PhD by publication to head for the best journals out there, because most of the time good journals will also get you your PhD. As a publishing strategy, therefore, it makes sense to write more good quality papers, instead of focusing on a single excellent paper. Focusing on a single excellent paper, however, has actually a higher value in research.

image.jpg

6 You Want to Specialize

Becoming a specialist or a so-called expert of a topic is a strong skill that you acquire by doing a PhD. A PhD by publication, however, may make you rather dive into various topics than letting you deeply explore one topic. As a result, you may find yourself less specialized, but with a broader skill set.

image.jpg

7 Novelty is Key for You

The thesis that is your own work and striving, allows you to think without reviewers and co-authors. It gives you the freedom to develop your own ideas free from compromises and conventions. As such the classic thesis can be a fountain of novelty, if it's well done. When doing a PhD by publication agreeing on compromises may hinder the development of novel ideas for the reason that you have to satisfy various stakeholders of your work.

image.jpg

8 You Do a Practitioner PhD

In case your PhD is part of a bigger company project, you may have not the freedom, time or mind to write several papers from the data that you gathered within the company. Although it is possible, it's perhaps much harder to accomplish a PhD by publication when having to focus your entire PhD on one single company. Keep in mind though that indeed such a situation can bear a huge potential to access sensible data.

image.jpg

9 Your Supervisor is Against It

That's a show-stopper. As you may know that your supervisor is your first gate keeper to the holy halls of research, you should try to address the wishes of your supervisor always if possible. Sometimes it helps to talk through it and find a compromise. But keep in mind that you should try to make your point clear and involve your supervisor early on to avoid any misunderstandings at a later point of time.

image.jpg

10 You Want to Finish with a Boom

When doing a PhD by thesis, you keep your writing to yourself until the end and then finish with huge fireworks, trumpets and a rabbit out of the hat including all-nighters and definitely some strong emotions after submission in the aftermath of your PhD. A PhD by publication would take that away from you leaving you with a rather calm finish and some smaller thrills and incentives along the PhD way with each publication that gets passed. Think about that fact and prepare yourself for what you have signed up for.

image.jpg

Now, what is better? PhD by publication or PhD by thesis? For what did you decide? And why? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Tell me what you think.

If you liked this text, please feel free to share it. Subscribe to my blog to get some weekly thoughts about my life at the intersection of academia and entrepreneurship. Follow me on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter (@MarcelHofeditz)

 

Related articles: 

 How to Get Out of the PhD Prison

Publish & Perish? Better Publish & Party! 

6 Tips to Improve Your PhD Outcome

 

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?

image.jpg

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.

image.jpg

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.

image.jpg

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.

image.jpg

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.

image.jpg

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.

image.jpg

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.

image.jpg

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. 

image.jpg

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.

image.jpg

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.

image.jpg

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)

Related articles: 

 How to Get Out of the PhD Prison

Publish & Perish? Better Publish & Party! 

6 Tips to Improve Your PhD Outcome

What are the Odds to Publish During a PhD?

Do you ask yourself: Why the hell have I been so unlucky in my PhD? Maybe you look at your colleagues and see some people that have worked less and got more recognition due to some scholarship, award or published paper. Let me try to explain why you shouldn't worry about luck and misfortune and what you can do to beat your odds, win the game and to get your momentum going.

Read more

How to Get Out of The PhD Prison!

It's hard to find positivity out there when talking about a PhD. Sometimes I myself even avoid blogs because the posts are so negative and discouraging. They tend to drag me down! I hope that this post may make you feel better about the journey you are on. 

So do you feel frustrated? Do you feel sad? If so, you are not alone. Let me tell you my top three reasons for PhD frustration.

Read more