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I'm PhD candidate in Applied linguistics, it's been almost 3 months since I've started but I'm seriously allowing for writing and publishing journal articles.

I have asked my supervisor about that, she said that I should devote my time to my thesis and wait until the second year and that writing other forms of papers generally interfere with the thesis.

However, I think I have enough time to simultaneously work on my thesis and also articles, also I have to indicate that the ideas that I'm willing to formulate in articles are not related my PhD focus.

What should I do? Should I wait until next year or just start working on articles and submit them as single author?

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    Are you by chance considering publishing review articles rather than original research? If so, you might be interpreting your supervisor's advice as "don't publish your first year" when she means "focus on your original research, because publishing a review article as a first year student is not worthwhile." – Bryan Krause Apr 11 at 16:20
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    Thank you for your comment, it is actually a perspective article – Doctoralstudent Apr 11 at 16:43
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    I think you should not work on such an article without your advisor's blessing: trust her on this one. Perspective articles are rarely well-received from people not already established in their field: you are unlikely to get such an article published in a good journal even if it's written well, and if it is published it's unlikely to be cited much. People are interested in the perspectives of people who have been studying at an academic level in the field for 10+ years, not from new PhD students. – Bryan Krause Apr 11 at 16:46
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    Yes exactly: to put it bluntly, no one cares about your opinion (yet). Imagine if a university freshman wrote a book about "how to teach a university course" in their first month of school: how many professors would take them seriously? – Bryan Krause Apr 11 at 16:59
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    I'm sometimes hesitant to recommend editing a post that has already attracted answers based on the previous content of the post, but I do think you should edit this into your post or otherwise ignore most of the other answers you've gotten here: they all seem to be assuming you are wanting to publish original research and your advisor is somehow holding you back from that, which is not the case. – Bryan Krause Apr 11 at 17:17
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Whatever you do, you will want to cultivate a good working relationship with your supervisor, so I'd advise against doing something she dissuaded you from just because strangers on the internet told you to. Talk it out with her.

That said, not a single PhD student I've known wrote/writes a relevant portion of their thesis in their first year, and the advice I have constantly been getting from faculty is that early in the PhD is the time to think about publishing other things. There will most likely be a time when your thesis takes all your attention, and by then it's certainly too late to worry about publishing elsewhere.

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    One way to approach it is to try to determine whether she simply advises against it, or strictly forbids it. Proving her wrong may not help you, but it is hard to say without knowing personalities. – Buffy Apr 11 at 15:41
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I understand your supervisor's point-of-view.

When it comes down to it, anyone is allowed to publish a paper. It doesn't matter whether you are doing a PhD, have finished doing one, or never have any intention to do a PhD.

But you are supposed to be studying for a PhD. Taking time to write a paper on something unrelated is only going to distract you from the work you're meant to be doing.

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    Furthermore, your advisor might think that you don't have enough content to publish an article, but you need some time doing research (on your thesis) to get it. – Pere Apr 11 at 17:14
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I'm PhD candidate in Applied linguistics, it's been almost 3 months since I've started but I'm seriously allowing for writing and publishing journal articles.

Good going, this is a really good trait to have in academia and will be really helpful in the future.

I have asked my supervisor about that, she said that I should devote my time to my thesis and wait until the second year and that writing other forms of papers generally interfere with the thesis

This sounds a bit bizarre to me. Make sure there was no miscommunication between you two. Since you only started about a few months ago, I am guessing you haven't started working on your thesis yet. So there shouldn't be any issue publishing now without affecting your thesis. Thesis is one thing, but it is the published articles that actually count in your profile and make you stand out from your peers. Ask her about how would publishing now would impact your thesis and get more clarification. Maybe she is right, which she should be able to explain but do ask.

However, I think I have enough time to simultaneously work on my thesis and also articles, also I have to indicate hat the ideas that Im willing to formulate in articles are not related my PhD focus.

Explain it to your supervisor and defend your decision.

What should I do? Do you I should wait until next year or just start working on articles and submit them as single author?

It depends on the policy set by your departmental or school. Talk to someone in the department before proceeding further. Some have a policy that you have to include your supervisor since you are publishing this work while in their group, unless you are publishing research from your previous degree (say from your MS). But if these ideas are your own then there might be a different policy. So do check and consult with someone in your department who might be knowledgeable about this before proceeding.

Good luck!

  • Sure, no problem. Just make sure you clarify everything with your supervisor. If you think you have a good idea and you should publish it, then defend your decision with rationale. Maybe she can explain her thought process and even better if she can guide you through the process to fine-tune your idea. Anyway, it will be a win-win situation if you have your supervisor's blessing. – SinghTheCoder Apr 11 at 15:59
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    "devote my time to my thesis" might mean "work on experiments, lit review, project design etc" – aaaaaa Apr 11 at 16:56
  • Yes it could, that’s why OP needs to communicate this with the supervisor. – SinghTheCoder Apr 12 at 6:14
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It is certainly ok to consider it. And it is certainly ok to follow up on ideas for research. Whether to actually publish may be more of a political issue, however.

If nothing else, keep a notebook of research ideas and first approaches for later. But your dissertation comes first and your relationship with your advisor shouldn't be compromised.

If you publish something and thereby "prove your advisor wrong" the outcome will depend on personalities. Some would praise you. Others condemn. The answers of sgf and nsinghs provide good guidance.

But the idea of keeping a notebook of things to pursue is a valuable life-long practice. In a fast moving field you may need to move quickly, of course, but often enough things can be set aside while you work on more essential things.

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We try to publish material that we are expert in. To become expert, we invest time and resources.

Further, when we send stuff out to journals for review, we are impacting the opinions of our current and future colleagues have of us. If you're a student at this point, you're also impacting the reputation of your mentor.

Without knowing much about you, I'd suggest that it's more likely than not that you're not sufficiently expert to publish something not perfectly within your own research area, and thus you might be hurting your reputation by packaging up a paper and sending it off to a section editor. The time you put into such efforts might be better put into honing your expertise in your own area.

If you feel like you need to be writing, I recommend starting to write a paper on your current topic of research. The paper will form somewhat of an outline of your research, and will show you what you need to "fill in" before the paper should be published. The paper will be ready to go out the minute you have the data to support it. I wouldn't think of this process as "writing a paper", but as more of a statement of research. It will drive productive discussion between you and your mentor.

At this point, I don't think the advice you've been receiving from your mentor is bad. She signed up to guide you through your early career, and you should give her her shot at it!

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You already said that the articles would not be related to your thesis work. Can you tell that for sure? In some places a collection of published papers is what makes a thesis.

That being said, are we talking publishing in a conference or in a journal? Have you ever published in a journal?

My guess is that you probably have time to publish in a small conference. And you surely have time to write a draft paper for a journal. But publishing a journal paper requires more time and effort than you might be expecting. You'll probably be asked to provide more references than you have, which will consume time to find and read. You have to correct errors, spell check, and so on.

All of this does not happen quickly, you might submit to a journal, get refused, submit to another, be accepted but asked for corrections/improvements. Then you submit again, and it might take some more time before you are asked for further modifications. Depending on the field, this may take more than a year, thus even if you believe you'll be done in 3 months (to send the first draft), you might need to turn your attention back to this publication by your second year.

Now, everything changes if this publication's topic matches that of your PhD.

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Along with others, I understand one possible rationale for her advice: the concern is that it will delay your agreed upon PhD thesis work. Your supervisor may not want you to add your name to the growing number of ABD's. Having said the above, history, culture and norms of your dept environment also play a role. I published as an undergrad as well as a grad before I finished my PhD thesis and it never occurred to me to seek permission once I obtained a PhD supervisor. So, I recommend, as others have, that you should discuss it with your supervisor and discover why she feels that way? That seems to be the information you are missing (or we are missing, in order to advise you). Best of luck to you.

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I disagree with your advisor. The archived journal literature is what counts. You can always pull a thesis together. Get some notches on your belt.

Furthermore, at the end of the day, your career is your career. Listen to your advisor's advice but don't follow it slavishly.

Edit: I see you have clarified that this would be a commentary article. I agree with your advisor on not bothering with that, now. Original research reports within your thesis area are a different kettle of fish. I would emphasize publications in that, once you have enough done (and well prior to and before writing your thesis).

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    I disagree with you - publishing something useful needs some good work to support it.... Perhaps if you are Stephen Hawking then publishing on day one is possible... – Solar Mike Apr 11 at 15:54
  • Personally, I wouldn't argue. Just do the work and write the piece. Then, it speaks for itself. As it is now, you'll just be having a theoretical argument. I think the work you do will be usable for either a dissertation or an article, so it's not much lost if you just do the work. If you find yourself incapable of producing good work, then you learn that from the effort. Rather than a theoretical argument. – guest Apr 11 at 16:02
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    Solar, I'm not Hawking and I produced three articles in first 3 months (summer) of research. In some fields, this is not very difficult (to get datapoint papers done). In addition, it is not unusual for accomplished researchers to do publishable work immediately. If the grad student is not overawed by publishing, than he may be able to quickly move to useful production. Perhaps the OP is incapable, but so be it. Nothing wrong with trying. The effort won't be wasted. – guest Apr 11 at 16:05

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