I feel I am in a strange position as a PhD student. On the one hand, I understand that the sciences have become much more fast-paced in terms of publications. I completely understand this.

On the other hand, I am feeling extremely rushed into publishing, not being more than a year into my PhD. The pressure is quite immense, considering that I used the whole first year just to build a foundation of knowledge so that I could stand on my own two feet. But being pushed to publish immediately after that year is up, with threat of termination of my candidature looming so suddenly and without warning - simply: My PhD students need to publish ASAP or leave - has really made me suffer as a student.

As far as I hear from other students in my field, it's common to have no papers published until even the third year. Sooner is better, of course, but the vast majority of other PhD students I've met or spoken to tell me their supervisor is significantly more relaxed. I really feel that this is making me suffer in that I don't have time to build myself as a researcher because my time has so quickly been reallocated to only doing the grunt work for someone else's project for 3/4 papers a year. At times it really feels like this is a bit of a paper mill and I can't become a successful researcher in my own right like this. Maybe in terms of quantity, but not quality.

Is this situation common? If so, how can I do about it? It is causing huge issues in my life and making me sincerely question whether this is in my best interest.

  • 1
    If you are about a year into your PhD, if you start thinking about publishing now, it will probably take you another year until that paper is published. There is planning and writing and waiting for reviews to do, it is a time-intensive process. I have seen the other happening: people not feeling any inclination to publish and then in their last year rushing to publish the minimal number of publications they need to have their thesis accepted. There is no harm in starting to plan early, a first paper is a long journey.
    – skymningen
    May 2, 2018 at 13:30
  • What field are you in?
    – J W
    May 2, 2018 at 13:31
  • I don't mean a plan, I mean 3 papers out or at least being reviewed by a journal by the end of the second year. May 2, 2018 at 13:38
  • 4
    Three papers by the end of the second year! In pure or applied mathematics? Most PhD students in pure math are already hard-pressed to have one paper prepublished before the end of their PhD... Doing the math and writing the paper can take a long time, and the reviewing process is notoriously slow in mathematics (months, sometimes even >1 year). Having three papers published by the end of the second year would either be a feat or the sign of a rushed, botched job.
    – user9646
    May 2, 2018 at 13:43
  • 1
    I've had the same pressure, and have performed as they said, but as I've gotten older, I've fought against that pressure and refused to publish prematurely. I'd speak with the graduate coordinator/general adviser about what is normal/about when you need to have a manuscript to send it, etc. May 2, 2018 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


Is this situation common?

I suppose that it is a common situation among PhD students. I am almost in an identical situation with a constraint on that is left to submit my thesis. I have (only) 3 years to work-write-submit papers so that I can stitch them as a thesis. I am in computer science. If I don't publish at least 2 or 3, my university would not even allow me to submit my thesis and my stipend would vanish leaving me screwed up for sometime.

Is this situation good?

Yes and No. Yes, because it would put some stress on your mental and physical capabilities, but would result in sooner fruitful results. I think that matters. No, because, this is not research I feel. You can't just think of productivity and at the same time think of science. I do understand that the world is fast-paced w.r.t. publishing and stuffs, but, this is contradictory to the properties of research and science isn't it.

Is this your best interest?

I feel so given the situation is identical. But, I console myself on the fact that "wait boss, just 3 more years and you are done!". Best is to make friends and go out in weekend and talk to new people around and forget work for some time. Go for date, movies. Just, don't think negatively about PhD.

P.S. I belong to Computer Science community, in late second year of my PhD, has submitted an article to a conference.

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