I am starting my PhD in Statistics soon and while I will try not to burn myself out, I still want to publish as much as possible while I am in my PhD program.

What are some useful tips that allows PhD students to produce many publications of good quality throughout the duration of the PhD? I have no previous experience writing papers, so I don't have any general idea as to how I will do this.

Thank you.


If you want to publish a lot of (scholarly) papers you need a lot of novel/new/interesting results. To get results you need (a) a lot of ideas and (b) a lot of hard work to develop those ideas.

If you are lucky then maybe a third of your initial ideas will end up in a result that is interesting enough to publish. Some of the ideas will be so easy to develop that they aren't worth publishing. Some of them will be so hard that you can make no progress in a reasonable amount of time.

To have a lot of ideas you need a firm foundation in your field, both what is known and what isn't yet known, but worth knowing if it could be arranged. Probably you won't be able to find those ideas yourself, or not very many of them, so you can work with other people who have ideas and with whom you can develop synergistic relationships to explore the unknown corners of your field.

To become a writer, you need to write a lot (as user henning suggests in a comment), but it takes more. You need to learn what is worth writing about first.

Since you are unlikely to know everything, or why some things are important or not, you need feedback on your work (and your writings). This is one of the reasons for having an advisor. He or she should be both a source of ideas and a sounding board for the ideas you have and how you develop them. So build a strong relationship with your advisor.

Another source of idea will be any state-of-the-art lectures that you can attend and any recent papers that explore ideas but leave some questions unanswered.

So, work with a lot of people. Listen to them and read what they write. Try a lot of things, expecting to leave much of it on the floor. Get a lot of feedback. Give out ideas as well as receive them. Make ideas your currency. Work hard. Take a lot of notes so that when something doesn't work out, but might later, you have a structured way to remember what you did earlier.

Always have something with you to read. Always have the means with you of writing down a quick note on an idea.

Papers, again, represent the successful exploration and development of ideas resulting in something known that was unknown before you started.

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    If you are lucky then maybe a third of your initial ideas will end up in a result that is interesting enough to publish. — I think you misspelled "one tenth", or maybe even "one hundredth". – JeffE Dec 2 '18 at 20:16
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    This was essentially the answer I was going to write. There is no magic formula. It's hard work and a bit of serendipity. – aeismail Dec 2 '18 at 20:59
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    I had one interesting idea in grad school and I didn't even publish that one. I had one interesting idea as a postdoc and I've been milking that for years. Now, if you want to talk quantity of bad ideas that weren't interesting at all.... – user101106 Dec 3 '18 at 0:09

Buffy's answer covers what you need to get good content, so I'll add a slightly different take. I’m not sure how important conference publications are to you or in your field, but they can be considered at least on a par with journals in some fields. The big advantage is that they operate on stricter/shorter deadlines. They offer the chance to publish "work in progress", or sometimes just a more interactive audience, provided you have the funds to attend.

Assuming you have no shortage of novel ideas, and your writing is good, maximising publications during your (finite and short!) PhD years can be aided by picking your targets carefully. Find out the "call for papers" deadlines of good conferences (or special editions) and plan accordingly. If you have work that can be done "in parallel", prioritise so you can meet a deadline.

Plan for rejections, too - some papers take more than one submission to be accepted and you want to optimise the time between submissions (enough to get the paper up to scratch and meet the next deadline).

As for finding targets, it seems obvious but make sure you note what you are reading - which paper or conference did it come from? You can find out the rank of a conference using websites like conference ranks or assess a journal on its impact factor or other scores. Acceptance rates might provide consolation in the face of rejection! On their own, these metrics might be a bit, ahem, subjective, but they’ll give you an idea of how journals and conferences rank in your field.

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