Having a realistic option of publishing a minor study in a 4th quartile journal, is this better than nothing? The articles of many, but not all, authors are kind of pretentious and unremarkable (not being cited nowhere), but not plagiarized, or computer generated.

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    Are you concerned about how this might look on your CV, or simply if it is worth bothering to publish? (or both)
    – Moriarty
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 9:40
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    how this might look on your CV is the 1st concern. Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 9:43
  • You could publish (to prove when did the work if needed) but not list it on your CV.
    – Ian
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 16:16

3 Answers 3


In the UK the value of a publication is often based on the REF and the QR model. For the REF, only your top 4 publications in the 5 or so year return window matter. If you have less than 4 publications, low quality publications are definitely better than nothing. For the QR model, only research which is considered

Quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

is worth any weight to the university. No one really is willing to define what "internationally recognized" means. This means that for hiring and promotion purposes, assuming you have 4 high quality publications, multiple low quality publications are not worth anything.

While the REF and QR model influences hiring and promotion decisions, as well as funding body decisions, I believe there is still a place for low quality publications. They can be helpful in allowing you, and other, to refer to them in later higher quality publications. It is also a way of archiving and sharing your research.

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    The quality of the publication is not determined by the quality of the journal in which it is published. At issue here are not "low quality publications" rather publications in journals of low quality (as judged according to some index).
    – Dan Fox
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 12:14
  • @DanFox I interpreted the OP's description of a "minor study" coupled with his desire to publish in a lower quartile journal as indicating the study in question was low quality, or in the OP's words "unremarkable ..., but not plagiarized, or computer generated." While I agree with you the quality of the journal and the quality of the paper are not necessarily equal, I am not sure either the REF panels or hiring/promotion committees always put in the effort they should.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 12:34

You're going to have to give us a little more information to get a useful answer I think. What stage of your career are you in, where are you located, what are your career ambitions? Do you have a lot of prior publications in better places, etc.?

Here's a general hint: try to think of what you want to communicate with your CV.

I'm going to answer as if you are a grad student in the US who wants to get a tenure track job who has no prior publications. Here what you're trying to communicate with your publications is scholarly quality. You're trying to show that you deserve a seat at the grown up table. A low prestige publication doesn't do that.

I'd say don't publish rather than publish somewhere bad. The reason for this is psychological: search committees viewing your cv are going to fixate on the data points they have and extrapolate from there. If the only data point they see is a low-profile publication, they are going to judge that this is likely the best work you are capable of doing and extrapolate that you will be unlikely to earn tenure, and therefore don't deserve further consideration. (For lots of junior researchers their first couple papers are assumed to be the strongest work they are going to do pre-tenure b/c these are papers arising from the dissertation, that have presumably been written under the guidance of a distinguished mentor. That assumption is actually true in a lot of cases.)

If this is your situation, then don't waste your work publishing somewhere mediocre. Take the paper, make it as good as you possibly can and then start sending it to conferences. With some conference feedback, the paper might get good enough to make it into a more prestigious journal that actually helps you build your reputation as a scholar.

Now, if you already have a couple of strong publications, things are slightly different. People are going to fixate on the good publications and interpret the rest of the CV in light of them. That frees you up a bit. If this paper is good enough to get published somewhere, and you're not really interested in it as a research project, and you don't need the reputational capital, then maybe you can just let this go at a lower-tier journal. What you'd be trying to communicate in this case is that you're active.

If you are in a country with governmental rules about what publications "count" towards tenure or promotion, like the UK's REF system, then what you need to communicate is that you're capable of jumping through that system's hoops effectively.


Academics obsess about publishing in recognized journals and while this is "proper" form, the arena is far from its ideal landscape, which few, if any, academics have actually analyzed or questioned.

Consider, for example, Hesse's idea in Magister Ludi: a uniform platform for all human knowledge, interlinked together, stewarded in perpetuity by those with highest credibility for their respective domains -- not by publishers with profit motivations or university presses with their own interests in mind.

If your work has merit, publish it to the web, on a blog, for example, where it can get many eyes, receive comment, and your work can progress. Ultimately, it is the ability to defend the work's value, not receive a blessing from some higher authority, which is important.

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    Actually, academics think about this kind of thing all the time. There's recently been a huge amount of discussion in theoretical computer science about what to do about the profit motivations of publishers. This has led, among other things, to the founding of a serious open access journal and various conferences moving to open access proceedings outside the control of university presses and the big publishers. Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 17:24
  • @DavidRicherby: Thanks, I am aware of the re-examination which started in the late 90's of the publishing medium (Psychology domain as I remember), but I have yet to see the power of the internet exploited to its fullest in that regard. The reason for my comment was to suggest that the OP is simply fretting too much amount standard publishing. Academic work should stand on its own.
    – Marxos
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 19:16
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    Also, the blessing of higher authority known as a "hiring committee" is absolutely crucial to any academic's career. However idealistic one might wish to be, most academics are reliant on their salary for putting food on the table, a roof over their head and sundry other mundanities. Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 19:28
  • Yes, but what I'm suggesting as you can read over at another question, is that the arena needs reform, particularly in how a PhD should be defined and what requirements it should have.
    – Marxos
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 19:34
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    Your desire to reform academia is not particularly relevant to this question about what to do in the academia that we have today. Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 19:54

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