Supporting Candidates to Disseminate Their Research

Giving that completing a doctorate involves making and original contribution to knowledge and understanding, it is vital that the outcomes are made available to the disciplinary and/or professional community for scrutiny and the advancement of research in the subject.

One responsibility of supervisors is to support candidates to disseminate their research findings.

Typical Examples
  • Setting expectations at the start of the candidacy.
  • Modelling the process of publication.
  • Encouraging candidates to publish as they go.
  • Co-publishing.
  • Establishing a post-doctoral publications plan.

Supporting Materials

Literature and Evidence

In some countries, prior publication is a condition of the award of the doctorate but in other cases it is not mandatory or undertaken voluntarily with the result that many theses and dissertations are left, to quote a supervisor cited by Walker et al (2008: 79) ‘…like John Brown  [to] lie mouldering in their literary graves’.

Failure to publish often reflects, as Kamler (2008: 284) has put it that ‘…for the most part, doctoral candidates appear to be left to their own devices to sort out how to publish their research… with poor results’. Many are daunted by the mechanics of publication in terms of identifying key journals and preparing appropriate submissions (see Cuthbert and Spark 2008, Lei and Hu 2015) and are discouraged from sending in papers. But even those who negotiate these hurdles often send in papers which are unsuitable for publication (see Paré 2010).

One way of encouraging publication is for supervisors to indicate to candidates in induction meetings right at the start of their studies that they will be expected to produce papers, and this may form part of an induction check-list or learning agreement.

Another is to model the process by, for example, supervisors showing how they themselves went about publishing a key paper, including targeting an outlet, responding to requirements, and where appropriate taking on board the comments of referees prior to final publication. Here, you could provide evidence here could take the form of a short case study.

Candidates may also be encouraged to publish as they go. i.e. write up their research as journal articles and submit them during candidature. This has can have disadvantages (see Paré 2010) but can enable rapid dissemination and provide convincing evidence of publishability to examiners. You may be able to provide evidence of supporting candidates to publish during their studies.

As several studies (see Kamler 2008, Can and Walker 2011, and Jiang et al 2015) have suggested, perhaps the most effective way of assisting candidates to publish is  for supervisors to write a joint paper with them for publication and take them through all of the stages from initial conception through to the appearance of the paper in print or electronic form. You may be able to provide a case study of a joint paper.

A final possibility, particularly if no publications have resulted during the period of doctoral study, supervisors may support their candidates to devise a publications plan setting out what they intend to publish, which outlets might be appropriate, and a timescale for submission. Evidence might include an example of a plan you have negotiated with a candidate.


Expand the section below to view references the academic literature supporting this criterion:

9. Supporting Candidates to Disseminate Their Research

Can, G. and Walker, A. (2011)

A Model for Doctoral Students’ Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Written Feedback for Academic Writing.

Research Higher Education (52): 508-536.

Cuthbert, D. and Spark, C. (2008)

Getting a GriP: examining the outcomes of a pilot programme to support graduate research students in writing for publication.

Studies in Higher Education, 33:1, 77-86.

Jiang, X., Borg, E. and Borg, M. (2015)

Challenges and coping strategies for international publication: perceptions of young scholars in China.

Studies in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/03075079:2015.1049144.

Kamler, B. (2008)

Rethinking doctoral publication practices: writing from and beyond the thesis.

Studies in Higher Education, 33(3): 283-94.

Lei, J. and Hu, G. (2015)

Apprenticeship in Scholarly Publishing: A Student Perspective on Doctoral Supervisors’ Roles.

Publications 3: 27-42; doi:103390/publications3010027.

Paré, A. (2010)

Slow the presses: concerns about premature publication.

In C. Aitchison, B. Kamler and A. Lee (eds.) Publishing Pedagogies for the Doctorate and Beyond. London, Routledge: 30-46.

Walker, G., Golde, C., Jones, L., Bueschel, A. and Hutchings, P. (2008)

The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century.

San Francisco, Josey-Bass. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Download the Research Supervisors Bibliography PDF 1.15Mb

Example Application Content

Below is an example of how evidence could be provided for this criterion when applying to the Research Supervision Recognition Programme:

9. Supporting Candidates to Disseminate Their Research

Wherever possible, I think that candidates should publish during their studies because it supports the development of their academic writing, helps to motivate them, and impresses examiners. So, right at the start, I say to them that they should try to publish their work, and I encourage them to go on courses put on by the Centre for Academic and Researcher Development on ‘getting yourself published’.

Not all candidates can or do publish during their studies or, in some cases, even after they have gained the degree; their dissertations can end up, to quote a supervisor cited by Walker et al (2008: 79) ‘…like John Brown [to] lie mouldering in their literary graves’. As there is no point in doing research and keeping it secret, I try to agree a publications plan with all of my doctoral graduates to make sure that their research is disseminated to the subject community.

Both for candidates seeking to publish during their studies, and those who have completed them, I suggest appropriate journals and, where appropriate, write joint papers. In such cases, I am very conscious of the need to ensure that the order of authors reflects their contributions to the study (see McFarlane 2015), so if the student or doctoral graduate has done most of the work his or her name goes first.

I am proud to say that, in all, my research candidates have published two books and over 20 papers, of which I have been the co-author of 11. This represents a significant contribution both to the subject and to my and my department’s research output.