Writing, publishing and building your profile as an Early Career Researcher

How do you establish your academic profile, and what should you publish and when?

I recently attended a networking breakfast for current doctoral students and early career researchers – a great morning run by the Universitas 21 group FINE (Forum for International Networking in Education) at the 2017 European Educational Research Association conference in Copenhagen.

The theme of the session was ‘How to build a global academic profile’. My role was to provide some insight into publishing at this stage of your career and how it can help to establish your tone and voice as an academic, and to get your name and work out there.

Some of the highlights from the session and Q&A included:

  • Publishing is an important part of your first years as an academic. It is how you can establish your voice and integrate your work into your field of study. However, how, what and where you publish can be daunting. For ECRs in the UK for example, there’s an increasing pressure to make sure publications are ‘REFabble’ (e.g. eligible for inclusion in the Research Excellence Framework). For young scholars everywhere there’s the drive to publish in top tier journals, which can be hard enough for well-established Professors. But don’t let the choice and difficulty put you off, take advise from your supervisors and peers, and get your work out there.   
  • Make your first publications journal articles. You can and should definitely consider writing a monograph based on your thesis research (and we always welcome proposals from ECRs), but in most cases you need to build up a portfolio of published work quite quickly, and publishing articles is the best way to go about this. If you can, you should aim to submit your first articles as you are completing your doctorate. 
  • It’s a cliché now, but don’t fear peer review. It will make your work better and the more you experience, the more your writing will improve. Try signing yourself up as a reviewer for the journals in your field so that you can experience the other side and demystify the process.
  • Think carefully about the title of your publications. The title should contain the main keywords, to improve its chances of appearing in searches. Don’t feel too constrained by the size or scale of your study when titling your work – make sure you highlight its broader implications. This applies for both journal articles and book titles.

One final piece of advice is to make use of the available resources:

  • There is a plethora of information to be found online and in print about how to survive and navigate the publishing landscape as an ECR. Many publishers have their own pages for ECR and writing advice (ours is here!), several societies also have great information pages on this.
  • Make use of academic/institution run blogs – be sure to keep an eye on the LSE Impact blog, and try watching Tara Brabazon’s vlogs (Dean of Graduate Research, Flinders University, Australia)– both offer practical and helpful advice.
  • Finally, embrace social media! It can seem daunting, but twitter especially is a great way to connect with other researchers in your field (globally) and is a really useful tool for sharing your own work. See our useful guide.

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Kim Chadwick, Commissioning Editor, Emerald Education