Global Development Institute Blog

By Xi Xi and Kunkanit Sutamchai

Publishing papers in journals is an effective approach to disseminate your research and communicate with peers in the research field. For a PhD student, having a paper published in an academic journal proves that you are capable to advance in your field and helps you stand out from other candidates in job applications. However, for novice researchers (like us), getting your work published for the first time might feel daunting. In this blog, we would like to share our experiences in the hope that this can be helpful for other PhD students.

As PhD students, we have been encouraged to publish by our supervisors Dr Kate Rowlands and Dr Chris Rees. They went to the length of running a seminar session for their supervisees solely on the subject of publishing in academic journals. They went through issues like selecting journals, how to submit a paper, the reviewing process (including looking at examples of reviewers’ reports), and responding positively to negative reviews. These insights were really helpful in understanding more about what publishing involves and how to proceed in a practical way.

Below we share our thoughts on how we personally found the process, in the hope that it can offer insights for you.

Kunkanit’s experience

In my case, my first journal paper – “The use of mindfulness to promote ethical decision making and behavior: Empirical evidence from the public sector in Thailand” – was published in a special issue of the journal Public Administration and Development. To begin with, I selected the data which I felt was relevant to the call for papers. I then worked with my supervisors on writing the paper and we submitted it to the journal. I learned that it is not necessary to wait until your final year or the writing up stage to publish a paper. Instead, you can select some interesting findings from your data collection stage to form the basis of a paper. I also found that a special issue in your research area could be a great opportunity to publish as they are specifically targeting your area of study.

Xi’s experience

I published one journal paper recently: ‘An Ignored Player in Internationalisation: Why and How Does a Chinese Regional University Internationalise?’ in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management. I developed one of the case studies from my thesis into this paper. Before submitting the paper for publication, I presented the results at several conferences, which helped me to clarify the argument and reinforce the discussion. For the journal selection, I found that searching from the key journals that I had read and referenced in my work was a shortcut to identifying appropriate ones.

In terms of our second publication, this one was a paper about the use of poster presentations by PhD students. The paper was initiated by our supervisors and was published in an open access journal. They kindly asked their supervisees to each write a small section of the paper. It was great to be part of this genuinely collaborative publishing activity; for several of our group, it was their first step into academic publishing and we were all able to gain valuable experience from being part of the process.

Top Tips

To finish with, here are our additional tips for getting published:

  1. Don’t be afraid to try to submit to the journal. You will never know what you are capable of unless you give it your best.
  2. Presenting your ideas at conferences can help you improve the paper. Conferences provide excellent opportunities to meet other researchers from around the world, where you can receive valuable feedback.
  3. Supervisors are some of the most important people in your publication process. The interaction with your supervisors throughout all steps towards your first publication is often crucial.

Kunkanit Sutamchai is a postgraduate researcher at the Global Development Institute, the University of Manchester. Her PhD thesis aims to augment empirical understanding of mindfulness practices in Eastern Buddhist context, with a particular focus on the extent to which Buddhist mindfulness can influence leaders’ ethical values and behaviour, through the examination of mindfulness practices among executive leaders in the Thai Buddhist context. Currently, she has completed her third year has recently submitted her thesis. Contact Kunkanit.

Xi Xi is a postgraduate researcher at the Global Development Institute, the University of Manchester. Her PhD thesis researches the organisational changes in Chinese universities and pays special attention to the strategic roles of middle managers during the process. Xi is in her fourth year and is due to submit her thesis in the near future. Contact Xi.


Source: Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash


Note:  This article gives the views of the author/academic featured and does not represent the views of the Global Development Institute as a whole.