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Career Status and Publication Strategy

Recently, a blogger discussed her publishing strategy as she builds her case for tenure; when and where to publish research are important considerations at any stage of one's academic career. Dr. Becca at Fumbling Towards Tenure, who recently landed an assistant professor appointment, this week considers where to publish a brief communication in which she and her co-authors report "super exciting" findings. Though she says the manuscript received positive reviews, it was rejected from the group's first-choice journal, as well as from its second. Now, she says, choosing where to submit the research is less than straightforward. While Dr. Becca says the choice will no longer affect her job search — and therefore, she is under "less pressure to get it into somewhere impressive" — she now feels the need to publish before she begins to apply for her own grants. "In the interest of getting it in press as soon as I can, part of me is inclined to let it go to a more specialized, next-tier-down journal," she says. Still, while she says that this work "belongs somewhere solid," Dr. Becca adds that shooting for the stars involves risk. "If we gamble and lose, what's the delay in publication time going to cost me in terms of meeting grant deadlines and feasibility-related scores?" she asks.

Choosing where and when to publish research is "absolutely a career concern," DrugMonkey says. Investigators are evaluated not only on the quality of their work, he says, but also on the "reputation of the journal in which it is published" as well as the rate at which they publish "and, correspondingly, total number of publications given a particular career status." To that end, DrugMonkey says that as generally there is "an inverse correlation between [publication] rate ... and the status of the journals in which the manuscripts are published," he says investigators should strive to strike a balance between publishing in highly respected journals while making "sure a certain minimum publication rate is obtained."