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Is it worth it to coauthor a book with my advisor in place of spending time publishing resrarch in journals or conferences?

Would the fact that the book is a much larger piece of work contribute more to my academic reputation? Or not as much because it won't contain as much novel research.

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    The standard advice in STEMcademia is never write books until tenure, but this is heavily field-dependent.
    – user37208
    Feb 26, 2016 at 5:12
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    A data point is that my colleague wrote a book with our advisor prior to completing his PhD. It certainly slowed down some publications, but now he can put it on his CV. I think in his case, it was a wash, he still has good papers, just not as many as if he hadn't written the book.
    – daaxix
    Feb 26, 2016 at 8:54
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    In which field are you?
    – Davidmh
    Feb 26, 2016 at 9:09
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    @user4050 You generally don't make a lot of money out of an academic book. Apr 10, 2016 at 11:52
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    Regarding money, I'll state it even more strongly. On rare occasions, someone makes a lot of money from an exceptionally widely-used textbook (one with many sales to huge classes) or a book that crosses over to a general audience. Otherwise it's pretty much guaranteed that you won't make a lot of money. If you computed your effective hourly wage for the time you spent writing the book, you'd probably be embarrassed to tell your relatives. Apr 10, 2016 at 15:40

4 Answers 4

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No, you should focus first on publishing journal papers in journals with high impact, these are the "real" things , while a book should be for later. The most important goals on any PhD would be becoming sufficient independently in order to ask questions in the field, see the connections, and publish the "played" results.

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Since he is your advisor, co-author the book (as in your name will be up there on the cover with his). Because you are still a student, you need papers (maybe he doesn't or he can delay them for sometime; you can't!). So, you will need to do both! That's my advise.

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  • Have you written an academic book? I haven't, but I have several book-length manuscripts, one of which received a "letter of interest" from one of the standard academic publishing companies. I decided not to try to pursue publication because -- even after the time I had already spent on it -- the amount of work necessary to get it in publishable form seemed prohibitively high. Most faculty members take a full year sabbatical in order to even make significant progress on writing a book. "So, you will need to do both!" seems likely to be very impractical. Apr 11, 2016 at 1:05
  • The OP did not specify a time frame! We do not know if the book has to be written from scratch? How long is the book? When it has to be finalized? From where I stand, in order for him to continue evolving, he needs papers. Doing both, although impractical to you, can be achievable in multiple scenarios/ conditions. Putting papers aside seems harsh! Putting aside an opportunity to publish a book is equally harsh! To me of course. This forum is about sharing ideas and opinions.
    – The Guy
    Apr 11, 2016 at 1:45
  • "Doing both, although impractical to you, can be achievable in multiple scenarios/ conditions." I didn't mean to imply that I was only giving my own personal experience. There is a lot of advice given on writing books at an early career stage; some of it is given generally and some of it has been given to me personally. It is widely observed that writing a book is incredibly more time-consuming than one might think. You didn't answer my question of whether you wrote a book. When you tell someone "you will need to do" something, whether you yourself have done it seems relevant. Apr 11, 2016 at 2:25
  • I'm currently co-authoring a book with my advisor as I'm finalizing my thesis and I have wrote two book chapters earlier, one of them is published. To be honest, I didn't think you wanted an answer to your question. I thought it was more of a sarcastic question.
    – The Guy
    Apr 11, 2016 at 2:45
  • The fact that you are coauthoring a book with your advisor is extremely relevant information that would lend credibility to your answer if you would include it, along with enough information about it to indicate whether the circumstances may apply to the OP. I would also ask you to keep in mind that your own productivity as a graduate student is quite extraordinary. While that is wonderful for you, it is really not feasible for most students (and perhaps for no students in certain academic fields). Apr 11, 2016 at 2:57
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I think it depends on your goals really (and your field). With books they generally tend to be long term single use projects to discuss the current subjects in a partiular field and reference a lot of papers.

Obviously papers tend to focus on cutitng edge research and practices within the field. SOme people prefer the relatively fast pased research environment of submitting papers and others prefer the slower pace of authroing. Again it primarily will be determined, by field, goals, and your own time as well.

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It would all depend on your focus and how well it would correlate with that of your advisor.

In general, standard textbooks would receive more citations than research papers. It would have a wider outreach (still dressing on the general case here). It would be pretty effective on the long run.

Coming back to your degree fulfilment, research papers would bring you closer to your immediate goal. This would quantify your achievements as a researcher and eventually qualify you for the degree.

Having stated above, the final decision is yours. If you are bent on finishing your degree quicker, resort to publishing research papers. If you wish for your career to develop in the future, then publishing a book would be a better option. This would accumulate your popularity while you work on your research papers afterwards. Also keep in mind the wavelength of your advisor.

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