I am an economics PhD student; I'm seeking to wrap up my PhD and do something outside of academia.

If I don't plan on ever being in academia, is there any value (career-wise) for me to get any of my work published in economics journals?

Ideally I'm looking for answers pertaining specifically to economics; but information on other fields is welcome too.

To elaborate (following some comments):

The reason I do not want to stay in academic economics is that too much (though certainly not all) of it is bullshit I cannot believe in. (This of course is just my humble opinion.) If I wanted to stay in the game and do well, I feel I'd be forced to manufacture similar BS that I simply don't believe in.

In other words, doing this PhD was for me a mistake. If and when I do get my PhD, I will not even feel proud about it. But now that I'm near the finish line, I reckon I may as well cross it, if only for the credential.

Right now I'm looking at working for one of the MOOCs. I enjoy teaching and believe that teaching/education is important. But it is also possible that I might do something completely different; I don't quite know yet.

So now I'm thinking: Should I just try to graduate ASAP with the lowest quality work possible? Or should I invest a bit more time and effort to polishing my work up, so that some of it can get published?

  • 7
    The answer to your question may well depend on what "something" is. Could you be more specific about your plans? Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 5:30
  • If your "something" isn't related pretty directly to the field you're publishing in, I suspect that publications in that field will serve mostly as evidence that you can write a decent English document. How much that matters will depend on the job.
    – keshlam
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 6:01
  • 2
    Economics papers might demonstrate competency for things in the financial industry, investments, or consulting -- depending on topic of course.
    – virmaior
    Commented Aug 3, 2014 at 6:29
  • Just to add that unlike many other disciplines, in economics, the norm is that most students will not have had a publication by the time they receive their PhD degree. Also, you can get tenure at a decent department with just 3 or 4 good publications. So the standards in terms of quantity of output may be quite different from other disciplines.
    – user10885
    Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 4:30

5 Answers 5


If you are planning to work outside academia as a specialist in your field, then you need to have academic knowledge. I don't see any value of having PhD papers publication while you are seeking non-research job positions; but, a wise employer will decide upon your CV.

As far as most of your time as a PhD student has been spent on research, so the employer is probably seeking the out put of the years you spent in university. These are the years you did not have enough freedom to work in industry, so the question here is what this candidate did at the university.

Nobody wants to hire a tired and depressed candidate who did not do well in his studies as a student and it may come to mind that he will be as tired as the years he was student, why to have him in company?!

So by having publications in your CV, you not make your CV comparative and comparable to the other candidates registering for the job; but also you will show that you are an ideal person in every situation. When you attend university, you did your best, finished your degree and have some publications; and the employer becomes more sure about choosing you. Percents bellow is my approximation of the need of publications in job market.

If I want to generally answer your question:

  1. If you are going to be hired somewhere:

    • 100% If it is a research job and related to your studies; then you absolutely need to show your research capabilities. So you need to prove that can do the research chores and then having paper publications is good idea.
    • 80% If it is a research job and not so related to your field, then the title of your papers may have no significant value but you need to show your ability to conduct research and having publications shows that you have the ability and the knowledge to do research.
    • 50% If it is a non-research job and related to your field, it seems that having publications does not make any sense but you have to show what you did in your education years, so if you don't have work experience in your CV, show that you have published something, show that you are expert in your field, have something in your CV!
    • 10% If it is a non-research job and not so related to your fields of study; then you may not need that much publications (see my answer above).
  2. 0% to 100% If you are going to work on your own and do not have any plans to be hired somewhere, do some business, be an entrepreneur, etc., you are the one who wants to hire you, so having publications isn't significant. But keep in mind that having research publications gives you ideas to work with, opens your eyes as a specialist and opens many more job opportunities than a person who has not any insight to research. So having publications may give you many more opportunities than having no publications.

In my opinion, be firm in every step of your life, finish your PhD with most output and publications; and enter a job which is so related to your field and make use of the things you learn during your studies at the university. If you do not gain much from your education, then it seems that you have lost your time for a PhD. So what was the use to get a PhD?

By the way, I think that your question highly depends on answering to this question: What are you going to do after graduation? And, What the consequences of not having publications would be in your future careers and jobs. You are the only one who can answer these questions precisely.


Disclaimer: I know nothing about the research in economics.

Publications are useful when applying to a job closely related to their field of study, but are almost never a requirement outside academia. This being said, if you want to 'work for one of the MOOCS' you might want to reconsider, because they very often are made in universities. I never applied to a teaching position, but I suspect it's not irrelevant to have at least one publication (although again, not a strict requirement).

Anyway, regardless of what your plans are, if you think your papers are not worthy of being published (what you qualify as BS), don't submit them, you will only lose readers' time. People apparently forget that the point of publishing is to show your work to others thus contributing to the field. The CV part is a by-product (at least it should be).

In addition, publishing something you don't 'believe in' is going to be a long-lasting pain in the neck (that is, in reputable, peer-reviewed journals). It could take you month of struggling with a paper that you do not want to read again, but have to. If you made your decision never to work in academia again, then it's pretty much pointless.


The reason I do not want to stay in academic economics is that too much (though certainly not all) of it is [BS] I cannot believe in.

Exactly because you think there are so much BS there, you should publish your papers if they are not BS.

I would review my manuscripts to see if they are good if I were you. If I believe they are of good quality, i.e. non-BS, I would submit them to the journals for peer review. If they do not match good quality standard, I would improve them so that they are not the same as those BS I saw in some journals. I then submit them to the quality journals which do not publish BS.

P.S. In my opinion, your question really has nothing do with where you are going to be and I consider MOOCs is part of Academia.


I'm in a different policy field, but share the same sentiments as you about academia. Consequently, I'm in the same situation of wondering how much I should care about publishing.

Here's some of my observations to date:

  • You have to show that you did something with your time while in a Ph.D. program. Publishing shows that I worked productively with my boss (advisor) on something "important" while I was a graduate student. However, this has diminishing returns. Namely, I'm perfectly content pumping my work out to a mid-tier journal, where I'm confident most of what I do would be published with just some simple edits that come about from the peer-review process at that level. My advisor, on the other hand, has a "go big or go home" mentality to publishing, which suits this person well given his/her career, but doesn't particularly help me get through the program rapidly to get a job outside of academia.

  • The best part about being in graduate school, but also being certain that I'm not going into academia, is that I have all sorts of time to build skills on my resume that will help me land the kinds of jobs that I want outside of academia, but are skills I wouldn't otherwise gain through the formal experience of a Ph.D. program. For me, this is computer programming. I'm great at statistics, understand research designs very well, and plan on leaning on these skills on the job market. However, a perfect complement to those skills, for the positions I'm interested in, is to be able to hack my way around several programming languages. Now, I can build something tangible with the analyses that I was already quite fluent with. Aside from the basic work that I need to do for my lab, and the program requirements I need to fulfill to get out the door, I really focus on these tertiary skills while I have the time to focus on such things. This means I usually am less concerned about the conference deadlines that seem to loom over the other graduate students, or revising that paper for the 100th time to try and impress my advisor. However, I should say that I also get a lot of shit done for my lab, more than other grad students, and work in ways that are much more smart/efficient than other students in my department. So, I find it easy to find the time to focus on other skills that might be beneficial to me on the job market. So, I hope given your disposition about academia, and your career goals, that you are using the extra time that comes from letting go of engaging with the rat race in order to do something cool for your resume.

  • The hard part is getting your advisor on board with your goals, which are reflected in a lack of concern about publication. First, it's harder to get them to pay attention to you if you aren't publishing things that are going to help them and their career. Two, if you're dealt an unlucky hand in being advised by someone who's never done anything other than academia (which is my case), it's hard to get them to understand your position. He/she might support your longterm goal, but will not be able to provide a vision of the intermediary steps one needs to take to reach that goal. I'm in the midst of negotiating my publication path with my advisor (i.e., "this is a perfectly fine article that would get published in a range of mid-tier journals." Advisor: "I just think if you redo this, that and the other thing, and then do this other thing, and think about this stuff then you could get it in one of the top journals..."), you might find yourself in the same position.

I really could go into so much more about being in the position you are in, and the difficulties that come from it, but that would get away from the question at hand.


Disclaimer: I never worked in the industry, so I have no first-hand information and everything I write is what I picked up from old colleagues, ... .

That said, I think in economics outside Academia a publication is worth barely the space in the CV. When applying to positions in consulting you may have luck and someone recognizes the journal you are publishing in, but in large companies you rarely meet someone who even knows what AER or Econometrica are.

So publications might look nice on the CV but (if you are not applying to a university or maybe a consulting firm) no one cares if you published at Econometrica or the working paper series of the university of nowhere.

However, your case is a little bit different: MOOCs (and most teaching jobs) are at a university, so I would consider them as part of Academia and there publications might be worth something. Maybe not much but something at least.

To put that in (pretty random) numbers:

100% For a research job (normalized)
50% For a teaching job at an university
10% - 20% If you are "lucky" and someone with a PhD in Economics makes the decision
0% Otherwise

Publishing takes a lot of time and effort, so, if you are sure that you do not want to stay in Academia (or work at MOOCs) graduate faster without polishing your papers too much (if you are getting some kind of grade: that usually does matter, so some polishing is probably needed).

You must log in to answer this question.