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« Victorians in the OCLC Top 1000 | Main | This Week's Acquisitions »

November 30, 2004



As someone currently applying for a Ph.D. position, I found this interesting as I've been told several times "of course it will help your application if you have been published once or twice". I cannot help but compare and contrast.


From experience (though in Britain of course), I'd say to grad students: publish with caution, publish selectively, AND ONLY do it if experienced people in the field whose judgement you trust think it's a good idea. And then get plenty of advice from them on redrafting and where to submit (and for gods sake don't forget to credit their help in the finished product).

New Kid on the Hallway

You know, I think that British academia may have a slightly different take on this than some American programs. I was speaking with a British grad student at an American conference and found it interesting how little support she had for presenting at the conference at all - her advisor thought it was pointless to do so until she was done (she was about mid-diss) and "really had something to say" - until then, why should she bother? Whereas my own program really encouraged students to present early (not indiscriminately, but it was seen as good experience).

That's conferences, of course, not publishing, but I think there's a corollary. Certainly my program wasn't interested in having people send out stuff that was too early/underdeveloped, but I think we were really encouraged to think about publishing as early as we could. And no, having a lot of stuff in really poor venues was not encouraged, but I think there was an unspoken urge to show that you were active/participating in the field in *some* way.

I agree with you, though, that the pressure to publish isn't necessarily ideal for scholarship, and it often was more about positioning ourselves for the job market than anything else (though I am very grateful to my program precisely for its attention to professionalizing us and grooming us for the market). And your comments about scattering conference papers around make me cringe a little, because I think that kind of describes me! (Again, we got that encouragement to present, and I may have taken it a little far. Where did it come from? Well, if nothing else, we got some money from the department to go to conferences if we were presenting. And the big conference in my field is very welcoming of grad student presentations.)

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