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The Path to Publication: PhD Program Advice

As you move through your PhD degree program and begin your dissertation, you may be looking forward to publication opportunities that can enhance your career. Here are some things to consider.

Several factors distinguish the two types of doctoral degrees (academic PhD degrees and professional doctorates). In particular, those who seek a PhD often wish to devote their professional careers to research, contributing new content and concepts to their particular field of expertise.

Doctoral students learn a great deal about research and academic writing as they continue through their degree program and the dissertation process. If you’re interested in having your work published, here are some questions to consider.

The Path to Publication: PhD Program Advice

What does it mean to get published? In academia, having your work accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or other well-respected industry publication demonstrates your knowledge and original contributions, and is a sign that your work is well-regarded in your field.

When should you begin trying to get published? Whether you’re earning your degree in a traditional classroom setting or as part of an online degree program, we don’t recommend delaying publication until after you’ve graduated. Many doctoral degree programs expect that you’ll publish academic research as you move through your coursework—and after you’ve graduated, your academic publications will make a difference to potential employers. So if you wait until after your dissertation to begin writing academically, you may miss an opportunity for a great position if you haven’t published enough.

What challenges might you face as a new academic writer? Even at the doctoral degree level, academic writing and editing present unique challenges. It’s a good idea to seek outside sources for help structuring your scholarly writing. Similarly, when you’re new to the world of academic writing, you’re probably not going to be the first contributor to a topic. Instead, choose a subject that allows you to develop some expertise and credibility through a slight shift in perspective.

Where should you submit your academic work? One great choice is to publish in peer-reviewed journals. Research which journals might be willing to accept scholarly manuscripts on your particular topic. High-level journals may not be the best point of entry, as they reject up to 95% of submissions, so new writers may be even less likely to be considered.* Most mid-level journals are more willing to work with new contributors, though you should be prepared to work with their editorial staff until your work meets publication standards. Journals that are new to your industry are also good choices, as they have higher rates of acceptance.

As a PhD degree student, it’s also a good idea to check with your university to see what support services they offer, and what their faculty, alumni, and students have already published. For example, Walden University hosts a cloud-based library called ScholarWorks, a repository of publications that showcases the university community’s collective scholarly and creative thought leadership.

Regardless of when or where you first get published as an academic writer, it’s important to remember that you are making an important contribution to your industry and influencing readers with the results of your hard work as a PhD degree student. It’s a challenging process—but also rewarding and fulfilling.

For higher education that supports you on the path to publication, consider Walden's online doctoral degree programs, and discover the degree options and comprehensive doctoral support services we offer. Get the help you need to continue your education and advance your career goals as you earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.

*International Journal of Doctoral Studies, Volume 5, 2010, “Starting to Publish Research as a Doctoral Student,” on the Internet at