Should Research Results be Published During PhD Studies?

Dr. S.N. Sridhara, Vice Chancellor - HITS, Chennai

Dr. S.N. Sridhara
Vice Chancellor – HITS, Chennai

Ph.D. registration comes with the intention of carrying out research in an unexplored area and contributing to the scientific repository with new results and outlook on the identified topic. The very first stage of research is the identification of the need for research on defined topics. This is established through literature survey and review. In a typical scenario, research articles published in reputable journals and conference proceedings will be of paramount importance in documentary research. While few thesis titles are also included in the search results provided by the search engines, the availability of a complete research thesis will be a distant prospect. It sets a foundation for why the results of a PhD should be published. In order to frame the research problem, the researcher embarks on a literature hunt and it is therefore necessary to publish the research results and make them accessible to the scientific community for continued research by others.

Advantages of publishing the research outcome during Ph.D. Studies

Let’s list some benefits of publishing research results in open fields such as journals and conference proceedings, before submitting the thesis for the award of the PhD.

The opportunity to collaborate and build networks: The main advantage of the presentation of research papers at national and international conferences is the possibility of networking and collaboration. Research supervisors should encourage their research scholars to present research findings at reputable conferences, where researchers from all over the world meet and share their knowledge base. This could lead to collaboration in research work, so that the knowledge base and research infrastructure across the globe can be shared. The second benefit is the legitimate use of resources and efforts to achieve a combined result, thereby avoiding ‘re-inventing the wheel’ by many and in many places.

Critical feedback: Whether it is a conference report or a journal publication, the paper gathers critical feedback during the review process. Peer review in the publication process provides valuable input from subject matter experts. This feedback enhances the quality and rigour of research, promotes critical thinking, and contributes to the growth and development of the researcher.

Increased citations to the research work: Another advantage of publishing in reputable journals is the ability to increase research citations and wide recognition. Publications in reputable journals increase the visibility of research, which may result in more citations. This will be reinforced as researchers from around the world publish collaborative papers.

Bright career opportunities: Publishing research findings during doctoral studies can improve career prospects. It demonstrates the candidate’s ability to carry out independent research, communicate results effectively and contribute to the academic field. Publications are often seen as valuable for academic applications, post-doctoral positions and funding applications.

Gain of credibility: Finally, an unpublished research work that goes only into the dissertation loses its credibility and ends its life on the shelves of libraries.

Institutional credits: The rating and accreditation agencies of institutions around the world assess institutional merit with weightings of 30% to 40% in the overall rating system. Research publications and their citations are praiseworthy applause for this institution. As a result, the institution prides itself on helping the researcher to publish the results of the research in reputable journals and conferences.

PH.D. by Publication

Few universities accept the thesis with just the compendium of published research papers by the scholars on the research topic instead of detailed thesis. These documents should generally constitute a coherent body of research, with methodical structure such as introduction, problem solving, conclusion and synthesis linking them.

Some universities have adopted variations of the dissertation by publication model or permit the inclusion of published articles in the dissertation. Few examples are: University of Adelaide, Monash University, University College London, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Alborg University, University of Southampton and a few others.

Challenges and limitations of publishing the research outcome during Ph.D. Studies

Although there are many advantages to publishing research results in doctoral studies, there are also limitations and potential disadvantages to consider:

The time limit for the researcher: Researching, analyzing data and preparing a research document for publication may take a long time. Doctoral students often have a limited deadline for completing their studies. The extra time and effort required for publication can result in delays in the completion of other essential elements of their doctoral program, such as courses, experiments or thesis writing.

The possibility of continued rejections: The peer review process can be challenging, and there is always the possibility of facing rejection when submitting research papers for publication. Several refusals or setbacks in the publication process may lead to demoralisation and might lead to negative impact on motivation and confidence of research scholar.

The possibility of continued rejections: The peer review process can be challenging, and there is always the possibility of facing rejection when submitting research papers for publication. Several refusals or setbacks in the publication process may lead to demoralisation and might lead to negative impact on motivation and confidence of research scholar.

Difficulty of publishing contrasting results: The publication process may be biased in favour of positive and quantitative results. Qualitative results and discussions can be discouraged by journal reviewers, even if they are important for the type of research. This will lead to publication bias towards published findings in the literature.

Ethical and confidential substances of research: Some research projects may involve sensitive data or information that needs to be kept confidential. Such a situation occurs when a researcher is working on defencerelated problems or for a private company that requires confidentiality of findings.

The protection of Intellectual property rights: Few findings of research might lead to highly valued patent. The research publication in such cases may be delayed to help the researcher to gain the intellectual property rights.

Lack of cooperation by co-authors: In some instances, collaborative research projects may involve several authors, including supervisors or other researchers. The cooperation by the contributors is essential to publish without conflicts on issues related to the determination of author order and identification of corresponding author.

It is important to note that the publication process may be laborious and that not all research conducted during a doctorate can lead to publications. However, it is always useful to aim for publication wherever possible in order to contribute to the scientific community and to highlight the research achievements. Healthy discussion with advisors and Peers will help balance the publication of research and the effective advancement of the PhD program.


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