I have a present PhD fellow from another research group who gets pressured by his PI to produce a "big paper" before he could graduate. He has already data and paper ready for publication but his PI continues to add more work and scope to make it "big". Is it really necessary to produce big work at this level? What is the cons and pros of publishing big and small paper?

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    I don't understand the close vote... Surely the way one plans and structures their PhD career has an objective impact on their future career prospect? – Drecate Jun 22 '19 at 3:32
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    This differs from field to field, and from research group to another. Could you give us more info about the context? But in any case, as long as your supervisor is happy, you're good for your PhD. If you want to improve chances in academia after the PhD, then big achievements that would keep you ahead of PhD students in other labs are certainly important. – Mohamed Khamis Jun 22 '19 at 4:13
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    Different supervisors, different requirements... different fields, different requirements.... – Solar Mike Jun 22 '19 at 4:35
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    Can you please specify your field. There are at least certain subfields of biology who have an unhealthy obsession with big papers, but in other fields, nobody really cares. – Wrzlprmft Jun 22 '19 at 11:36
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    @Scientist etc. There's no way this question can be saved. It's all opinion. – Anonymous Physicist Jun 22 '19 at 12:05

In every place that I know of, and likewise in every field that I know of, you have to please your advisor in order to complete your degree. I don't know of any situation in which it can be done otherwise short of litigation.

In some places the advisor signs the dissertation. In some s/he signs a form indicating the candidate has successfully completed the degree. There can be variations, such as assigning a grade.

So, the answer to the question here can be yes or no, but that depends on the individual advisor, so in the case at hand, it seems to be yes. Having a good relationship to your advisor is essential. Perhaps "big" can be negotiated, but the advisor needs to be sufficiently happy.

I should also note that in some fields, publishing before completion of the degree is the norm. In other fields it isn't expected and can be quite rare.

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