How to Build a Strong Publication Record

Recently, I was able to attend a conference where I learned about the kind of publication record that post-doctoral students should be building to get tenure-track positions. This inspired me to write this post, where I will focus on the kind of publication record graduate students should be aiming for

What to Publish?

You should be aiming to publish in peer-reviewed journals. This means publishing review papers (but not too many of them!) and empirical papers. Brief reports count as well.

How much to publish?

The goal is to have ~10 published papers by the time you are applying for academic positions (so I guess you should have ~5 papers in graduate school if you plan to do a postdoc, and 10 if you don’t). Half of your publications should be first-author.

Where to publish?

You should aim to have 2-3 publications in a top tier journal (Impact Factor >4.5). These tend to be generalist journals (Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Pysch Med, JAMA Psychiatry, Am J Psychiatry). The rest of your publications can be in generalist mid-tier journals and top specialty journals (you become known in your field by publishing in these). It’s also OK to have a few publications in lower specialty journals.

How to get so many publications?

Although it may sound ambitious to publish this much, there are several tricks to increasing your publication number:

  • Consider how much your mentor’s students are publishing before picking a graduate program
  • Make it known to your mentor that you are seeking an academic career and hope to publish a fair amount
  • Mentor undergraduate students and encourage them to write-up their senior thesis – this could mean a second author publication for you
  • Help out senior students in your lab with their projects
  • Approach people you meet at conferences and ask if you can collaborate with them
  • Collaborate with other students
  • Collaborate with your mentors from undergraduate
  • Write-up a few review papers
  • Set goals for # and quality of publications per year
  • Maintain a pipeline of papers – you should always be working on several papers across the spectrum of quality and across stages of development (in prep, submitted, “in press”)
  • If you are working on a low-quality publication it may take more time than a high-quality publication. Sometimes it is better to just give up
  • Prioritize relationships over publications

What about Book Chapters?

Although it can be good for your career to publish book chapters, these don’t count towards your goal of 10 publications. Be very careful about publishing something as a book chapter that could have been a peer review paper




One thought on “How to Build a Strong Publication Record

  1. Pingback: Getting a Clinical Psychology Job – What Factors Predict Success? | Clinical Psychology PhD

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