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Research integrity

A guide outlining Library support available to Researchers and HDRs on aspects of research integrity.

Can I publish from my research?

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)

A word of caution: there may be circumstances where it is not advisable to re-publish similar information. See Self-plagiarism and Redundant Publication.

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.

Reasons for publishing during your candidature

  1. Test your theoretical or analytical theory - Putting your early research into written form, for an audience of peers in your field, could help you test out your theoretical or analytical approach. For example, if you are proposing a new model to help explain a phenomenon, you may find that preparing your thoughts for publication will help to test this out.
  2. Developing a writer's voice - We often speak of developing a ‘writer’s voice’ and writing for publication is an excellent way of helping you find and consolidate this sense of yourself as a scholar. This will help you develop the sense of yourself as an ‘expert’, someone who has something meaningful to contribute to the field. The result can help you write the thesis with a greater sense of authority and shift your identity from 'student' to 'expert'.
  3. Dissemination of research - If you are considering a career in research or academia, or as a leader in your chosen field, publishing during your candidature means that you start to get your work out into the world. The dissemination of research is vital to the work that goes on in universities and research centres. Developing the habit of disseminating your work early in your career will put you in a good place for further career development. A publication strategy will help you to plan your publication journey. See: Strategic Publishing
  4. Review and critique - Writing for publication means opening yourself up to review and critique by your peers. In many ways, this is the essence of academic work – engaging in new ideas and in the scrutiny of those ideas. This can feel very high risk, but it is good to build the resilience to handle feedback (everyone agrees the experience of receiving feedback can be a little confronting!). Still, learning to deal with critique and feedback, be it from editors, publishers or colleagues is a valuable skill to have (whether you intend to stay in academia or not). On the positive side, of course, you’ll feel great when your work is accepted for publication and you start to see the impact you can have in your chosen field. 

Further reading

What can I publish from my research?

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.


Other possibilities for publication may include

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

Useful resources

Planning your PhD publication journey

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).

Other useful resources