While producing a 'Thesis by Publication' is possible and even encouraged in many fields, it is also common for research students to publish as they work on their PhDs or dissertations. This section deals with the reasons you may choose to publish in journals or as book chapters while also writing a thesis (note: if you are interested in doing a thesis by publication contact the School of Graduate Research).
According to Pat Thomson, Professor of Education at the University of Nottingham, it can be a good idea to publish while researching and writing a PhD. However, deciding whether it is the best strategy for you is a personal choice and may depend on the type of research you are doing (for example some research students prefer to keep their material for a book publication after completing their thesis)
If you are unsure about the ethics of republishing similar work, contact Research integrity at RMIT. When unsure, it is always best to discuss with your supervisor and ask for permission to republish from editors.
During your candidature there will likely be many opportunities to disseminate your research. You should set about identifying the types of opportunities available to you, as well as the avenues for publication early on in your candidature. This strategic approach to the dissemination of your research is often referred to as a ‘Publication Strategy’. See the Library’s Guide to Strategic Publishing.
No doubt, as you progress through your candidature, and as your research starts to take shape, you will have opportunities to present the various stages of your work. For instance, some candidates find that journals are interested in publishing their literature review. This will likely be in a form that differs from the shape of the literature review chapter in your thesis, but this will be an excellent opportunity to bring the material you’ve been reading together and to communicate its significance to an audience of peers. In fact, the peer review process including feedback from the editor will give you a sense of what aspects of the literature you’re reading are the most interesting or valuable to your field at the moment. This will be valuable when it comes to preparing your thesis for submission.
Some candidates have found that presenting or publishing their ideas for a new or revised methodology in their field provides an opportunity for early feedback, and of course we can all see the value of disseminating findings to an audience of peers who may or may not agree with interpretations or analysis. The backwards and forwards that takes place whenever a researcher shares their work ultimately adds to the robustness of a researcher’s conclusions. (Nevertheless, a word of caution, you may also decide to refrain from publishing your findings if you are planning on publishing your work elsewhere post PhD, i.e. book). Discussion chapters are also very commonly published as they tend to bring together the whole work and describe the value of the research undertaken. Many candidates also find that publishing their conclusions in a journal article will involve incorporating sections of their introductions, literature review, methodology, and results. The experience of rewriting for a shorter more concise piece (often 3000-5000 words) is also a valuable experience.
A consultation with a Research Librarian or Academic Skills Advisor could help you identify where best to put your efforts. Request a consultation.
You may also find that publishing during your candidature provides an opportunity to collaborate with other researchers in your field. As you become more familiar with who is researching and publishing in your research area (including other PhD students in Australia or around the world) opportunities to work together with likely arise. In these cases, you will have to negotiate who is the first author on the paper and how you will go about writing together. You may also have an opportunity to respond to a call for papers or chapters to be included in an edited book or a special edition of a journal. Your supervisors will also be able to advise on opportunities that exist for publication in your research field.
The important thing to remember is that research is meant to be shared with a community of like-minded peers and that research careers are built on publication records (so the more you are able to do, the better).
Before you decide to disseminate your research you should familiarise yourself with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018
Planning your publication journey is a complex process that involves many considerations. You should raise these considerations and what your options are for publishing with your supervisors early on in your candidature.
You will also need to consider whether publishing your research or data open access is desirable (this is popular in many STEM fields).