An Academic Career

A strategic approach to research

Improving your publication record

Academics conduct research and produce publications in many different ways, balancing  sole-authored work with research collaborations. 'Geology is a pretty interdisciplinary field,' says lecturer Simon Brocklehurst, 'so it is not uncommon to collaborate and have between two and five authors credited on an academic paper.' He adds that research can be constrained, for example by funding considerations, so it is important to be flexible and creative, and seek funding through different means, such as research councils and industry.

Some academics boost their publication record by supervising and directing the dissertation work of postgraduate research students. If the dissertation leads to a journal article, then the supervising academic will be credited as a co-author of the article. 

If working as part of a research centre, then everything produced from that group would have one's name on it, even if one's contribution is relatively small.  In this instance, it is important to also pursue sole-authored work or lead on other research projects.


Some advice for early career researchers

  • Pursue publishing opportunities as early as possible. In some fields, it is expected to begin publishing even before completion of the PhD.
  • Choose the right form of publication. Some advice for Humanities PhDs:
    'When you first finish your PhD you want to get it published as a book. If you can publish two or three journal articles, that will probably put you in a better place in the long run in terms of the discipline. At some point you will need to produce a book, but not necessarily in the first few years.' Dr Angelia Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Politics.
  • Strategic collaborations can be useful, especially with a well-known professor.
  • When applying for funding, consider applying for smaller pots of money. Writing proposals for very large sums of money is much more time consuming and getting these grants is much tougher.
  • When approaching referees (for grant applications, for example), aim for people who are very well known in your field.
  • Start to take on leadership roles - there may be small projects which you could supervise even as a PhD researcher,  or you could supervise undergraduate or masters projects or dissertations.
  • If your work is interdisciplinary, make connections with academics from other departments. For example, Reza Vahid Roudsari is currently pursuing a PhD in dentistry at The University of Manchester but has made useful connections with researchers within the School of Medicine: 'They are pioneers in my area of interest and I am familiarising myself with their research methods,' he says.