Academic life – it’s all about publish or perish, and quality over quantity

The bottom line in academia is publish or perish … but … .

I have a friend who says publish anything anywhere but in the long run that is academic suicide. Publishing a junk paper in a junk journal is selling yourself short academically. And there are some who think publishing a lot is important. Sure it is. But publishing ten papers in a year can not and will not be seen as good academic practice.

There is something to be said about quality over quantity. To use a mass production of goods analogy, Made in China is everywhere but products with this label soon fall apart. There is nothing like Made in Japan. You may not see many of them out there but they are really durable, of excellent quality. So which do you want to be – a product with a Made in Japan or Made in China label?

In short, one should take pride in their research. A scholar of any worth should not take their life’s work, their  ‘viva‘, the term for the defence of their thesis, lightly.

To survive in the academic world, then, one should publish often within practicality. This means maybe 1-3 papers a year. There should be always something cooking on your stovetop, so to speak. If you are not working on something then you are not really an academic. And one should also publish in peer reviewed journals of quality even if it feels like selling your soul. Actually the feeling of selling your soul is really a sign of not good academic quality. Afterall the point of your research is to convince the readers (first the reviewers, then the readers) through strong evidence and reasoning that your findings and interpretation are valid. If your research cannot do that then there is something wrong with either 1) your research and research results, and/or 2) your writing.

And now I must go turn off the web browser, return to my research and put my money where my mouth is.

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4 responses to “Academic life – it’s all about publish or perish, and quality over quantity”

  1. Thanks for the comment.

    Go for it, Ann. They will come knocking at your door in no time.


  2. I really needed to hear this advice. Because I feel the constant pressure to publish, and I have not even obtained an academic position yet! Is that the reason, I ask myself- well possibly. But, you helped me regroup and realize that quality work is more significant than trying to publish anything and everything for the sake of it. Aim high, and I will.


  3. Thanks.
    After reading your blog I hope you publish but not perish.


  4. wordsfallfrommyeyes

    A solid blog. I agree with you, it’s got to be quality. I’m no academic myself though. I’m just glad in MY world it’s not ‘publish or perish’!


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