I am nearing the end of my Ph.D. I need to publish a bit more, but am unsure what to do. So far I have published two rather large articles with my supervisor, where we develop new methods. I have also published a smaller article along with an external collaborator, where some of the new methods are used. My supervisor thinks we should publish another large article together, while I lean more towards two small ones alone. I am not guaranteed a post doc anywhere yet, and will most likely have to write my own grant application. What would be the best thinking in terms of securing external funding afterwards?

  • 5
    Presumably, your supervisor has a reason for suggesting that you publish another 'large' article, rather than 2 small ones. Is there a reason you believe that 2 small ones will bring larger benefit than 1 large one? My thoughts on this is that with 2 small ones, you will spend more time on the details (font, format, etc) and less time on results. Jul 4, 2016 at 16:37
  • 3
    From the title and the body, you seem to imply that a large paper is automatically of better quality than a short one. Jul 4, 2016 at 17:31
  • 2
    Quality of the journal is more important.
    – Nikey Mike
    Jul 4, 2016 at 21:06
  • 1
    @MikeyMike No, quality of the paper(s) is more important.
    – JeffE
    Aug 15, 2016 at 11:07
  • 2
    This is not a duplicate. This questions deals with a career span of publications where presumed duplicate with a single specific project!
    – Dilworth
    Aug 15, 2016 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


A direct answer for your question would be that quality would be better than quantity in this case.

By a larger paper would not always be of a better quality than a smaller one. But if you mean a paper with more extensive research and collation of results obtained from rigorous time consuming experimentation, then yes. Such a paper would carry more positive impact than multiple smaller ones that you could use just for the count. This is from the viewpoint of your advisor.

Some may prefer increasing the number of publications, but it would only matter if they are published in reputable journals, in other words, if they all hold quality (at least in most cases).

So if you intend to sacrifice quality for quantity, my honest opinion would be the same as your advisor's.

  • 2
    published in reputable journals, in other words, if they all hold quality -- Those are two totally different things. Lots of low-quality papers are published in reputable journals.
    – JeffE
    Aug 15, 2016 at 11:06
  • 1
    "in other words, if they all hold quality" - while I'm certainly not advocating applying sloppy standards or publishing in nonsense venues, there can be strategic reasons to break up some work in order to publish one or two papers in high-quality venues and distribute the other parts (focusing different aspects of the work) to other venues. For these venues, diversity is more important than absolute standing, as this gives authors a chance to reach different people in various subcommunities. Aug 15, 2016 at 11:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .