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I'm in th midst of pursuing a PhD and have a few potential papers in the works, but have lots of other analytical work to be done as well. It seems from my discussions with supervisors that there are plenty of opportunities to squeeze papers out of the work I'm doing, but I'm wondering I should balance these ambitions with working on the core part of my project. I'm curious to know how different people here who have done or are doing a PhD balance writing up papers with other work in their project. Thanks!

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    You seem to contrast writing papers to the "core part" of your project. I wonder what that is... and why writing papers is not "core". May 17, 2022 at 13:32

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This entirely depends on context (country, university, subject field, your year & PhD length, any other expectations, etc). Nobody will be able to give much specific advice in general, but I assume you're just trying to get a sense for what it's like for others?

Personally (UK, Math/Phys PhD), I've published papers when the opportunity has arisen. At those times, writing them up has been the focus. But in my case, that work could feed into (or at least be relevant enough to mention in) my main project.

My advice would be to trust your supervisor, or speak with others in your peer/research group, as they'll have a much better idea of what is manageable and what is expected for you.

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What discipline is it? Are you writing an article-based dissertation, or able to convert your current dissertation to that? If you have to write a monograph, can you publish a paper that can also be used as a chapter in your dissertation without too much revision?

I did my PhD in the humanities in Norway a good while ago, before article-based dissertations were possible in the humanities. My approach was to publish papers and rework them into my dissertation. I think this was the right approach - you need experience publishing and that's how people actually learn about and engage with your research and how you'll get a job.

I think this may be different in the USA as I have seen people get tenure-track jobs at elite universities with NO PUBLICATIONS which baffles me and would be entirely impossible in Norway. Perhaps they had extremely good dissertations and a book contract when they were hired? Or perhaps American academia is corrupt? I don't know.

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I'm in Statistics. From my point of view "balancing things" is a good attitude. Having the odd paper (say two of them) when you finish and apply for the next stage is certainly good, however, depending on the field and the place you are in or applying to, digging deeper can be appreciated at some point. This means that taking the time to let certain things mature, to question and revisit them before you publish, and in this way making them ready for a higher level journal publication, can pay off. Publishing early is good but takes some extra effort, and if it distracts you from developing things in more depth, it can become a problem. In some places they count publications but in some (often better) places they have a closer look at what you have done, and may find more potential in people who don't feel they need to get out every small thing as a paper for career reasons.

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