Why Publish as a PhD Student
There are many reasons why you may wish to publish your research, including:
Before submitting your work for publication it is worth asking the 'Why' question to understand your motivations for wanting to get published, as this may impact some of the decisions you make during the process, such as where to submit your work for publication.
How to Get Published as a PhD Student
Why does picking a journal matter?
The most common reason papers get rejected is because they are deemed to be outside the scope of the academic focus of the journal which it has been submitted to. So submitting to an appropriate journal for your area of research is an essential pre-requisite to getting published.
Once you’ve picked a journal, you can then gear your work towards them, in terms of aspects like the journal’s special interest and goals to it’s formatting style.
What to consider when picking a journal?
Different journals have different approaches to Open Access: some may only allow OA articles which will have an APC charge; some may have restrictions that will not allow you to meet your OA requirements; we may have agreements with some that allow Gold OA without any further charge.
As you scope out journals, you may find it useful to see if we have a Read and Publish Agreement with any relevant journals, and you may wish to use Jisc’s Sherpa Romeo to see if the Journal will allow you to archive the accepted manuscript in Pure (as is required by the University’s Open Access Policy).
Avoiding predatory publishers
Beware what are known as ‘predatory publishers’ that try to lure researchers in with misleading impact and scope such that they can charge authors fees to publish with them. Think Check Submit is a useful website for more information on how predatory publishers operate and what you can do to protect yourself.
Scoping publications in your field and using metrics
The simplest way to find a journal is to see where similar research is getting published. A quick scan of your citations can sometimes highlight relevant publishers. Alternatively, an abstract and citation database like Scopus can provide a sense of key journals in your academic discipline (Full access is available via your University login credentials). You can search for similar articles to see where they are published or you can select the 'Sources' tab to find journals in your subject area.
Scival is also a useful tool developed by Scopus to compare journals within and across diferent subject areas. You will be able to compare journals based on metrics like outputs, field-weighted citations, Journal Impact Factors, collaborations etc. Whilst these metrics can be a useful guide, it is important that you evaluate how they use them. It’s important that you question what you are trying to find out, whether aspects are being under represented, and whether journals could be skewing their numbers. Please see our “Responsible Metrics” section for more guidance on making the most of metrics.
Finding Multiple Journals
If you find a couple of journals, it can be useful to know which journal to submit to next if your first submission is unsuccessful, but you must submit to one journal at a time. Submitting to multiple journals at the same time is viewed as poor academic conduct and may lead to some journals declining to consider your future publications if you’re found out. If the first journal declines your article for publication, you are then free to submit the paper elsewhere.
Picking your Topic
Whilst you can always write an entirely new piece of research for publication, it is common for PhD authors to adapt parts of their PhD thesis with a view to publishing either a journal article or full length monograph. As authors of PhD theses typically maintain copyright over the work (unless a contractual agreement with a commercial sponsor or similar overrides this) they are free to seek to publish this research elsewhere.
It is worth noting that while most publishers do not regard a PhD thesis as a prior publication, some may take a different approach. This spreadsheet can help what different publisher’s policies are towards considering thesis material for publication.
Talking to your Supervisor
Your supervisor will be a particularly helpful guide for getting your work published. Not only will they have a keen sense of your research and writing, but they will also have a good sense of the field and could help you find a good journal to publish with.
In some academic disciplines, it is common for works authored by a PhD student to include their academic supervisor(s) and others working within their research group. Often the input of a supervisor or more experienced academic as a co-author can provide useful support in the writing of a paper for authors less experienced with the process.
If you are unsure about who to credit as an author, The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors identifies four areas of contribution which would merit an authorship credit which can provide a useful frame of reference in this area.
Support from the Centre for Academic Writing (CAW)
The Centre for Academic Writing at Coventry University can provide a range of support from one to one tutorials to in depth accredited academic modules which are designed to help improve participants academic writing skills.
What is peer review?
If your paper passes the initial editorial check, whereby the journal editors assess that it meets the scope of the journal you have submitted to, then it will be passed on for peer review. Typically two peer reviewers will be appointed; some journals invite the authors of the paper to suggest appropriate figures in their field who would be able to act as a peer reviewer, others appoint reviewers independently.
Broadly speaking there are three different types of peer review:
Peer reviewers are generally unpaid for their work and fit peer review around their other work. Turnaround times can therefore take several weeks or months, depending on the peer reviewer’s other time commitments. Journals offering unusually quick turnaround times may fall into the category of 'predatory publishers' and should be viewed with some caution.
How to responding to points raised from peer review
Reviewers will provide a range of feedback which may range from minor points (e.g. suggestions around presentation and layout), to more substantive points such as critiquing the research methodology employed and conclusions drawn.
It is common practice to submit a response to the reviewer’s letter alongside the revised manuscript. In this letter it is important to respond to each comment or query raised by reviewers, no matter how minor, and explain how you have addressed each point. If you disagree with a point, be polite in your response and indicate why you have felt unable to implement a particular change which has been suggested.
A useful and easily digestible article providing 10 'rules' on how to respond to reviewers feedback was published by Plos One in 2017.
If your paper gets rejected
Don't panic! Many journals have an acceptance rate of well below 50%, meaning more articles are rejected than are accepted. A rejection isn't always indicative of the quality of the work, as it may simply be a reflection that the focus of the article falls outside the scope of the journal it has been submitted to.
If your paper is declined publication in one journal then you have the option of re-submitting it elsewhere for consideration. Hopefully the reviewer feedback you will have received will be constructive in nature and allow you to formulate a stronger submission second time around.
At this stage your article is heading for publication (hooray!) but this also means that the legal contractual part of the publication process starts to kick in.
Copyright Transfer Agreements (CTAs)
Most publishers will ask authors to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA), assigning copyright from the author(s), in whom it resides by default, to the publisher. It is worth reading through the details of a CTA as they will typically detail those rights retained by the author including the right to re-use the paper in teaching, sharing the paper with colleagues and other individuals, archiving various versions of the paper in pre-print and institutional / subject repository systems etc.
Authors may request changes to the terms of the Agreement, however publishers may not always accept such changes. An alternative agreement template has been developed by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) in the form of their Author Addendum. Your funder may also require you to add a Rights Retention Statement to the submitted manuscript. These are both attempts to permit the author to retain additional rights beyond the more restrictive standard Copyright Transfer Agreements.
Note that while it is common for academics to share publications via Academic Social Networking sites like Research Gate, this is subject to the publisher’s permissions and that posting the final publication will likely be a breach of the publisher's copyright.
Pure and Green Open Access
Both the REF and Coventry University require the accepted manuscript to be archived in Pure within 3 months of acceptance in order to help ensure compliance with various Open Access requirements.
Some publishers will permit the accepted manuscript to become available to coincide with publication, others implement an embargo period prior to the document's release. The Research and Scholarly Publications team at Coventry University help check publisher policies before the record goes live.
Please see the Pure tab for more help.
At publication, you will start to feel the benefits of Open Access. With Gold Open Access, anyone who finds you article will be able to access it, which will help reach not only other researchers, but also practitioners, industry partners, policy makers and the general public. Even if you have not published Gold Open Access, you will probably still be able to provide access via the green route, although this may require an embargo period before the article can be released.
Social media can be a really useful tool for authors to promote and advertise their publications. Some are specific to academia (e.g. Mendeley, Research Gate) while others reach a more general audience (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook). It is common for authors to use platforms like Twitter to promote their research and develop communities around topics of interest, but you may find it useful to create a separate account in order to balance your professional and personal profiles. More guidance on using social media as an academic is available through our library holdings.
Monitoring engagement allows you to see the types of conversations that happen around your work, and could lead to potentially fruitful developments or collaborations. There are various services which measure the citations and other types of interaction which a publication receives, including Google Scholar, Scopus and Altmetrics. Do be aware that citation data may vary between providers, for instance, Google Scholar citation figures will be higher than Scopus since Scopus measures citations from other peer reviewed publications, whereas Google Scholar covers a wider range of material, including less academically rigorous material.
For the most accurate and up to date information about the University guidelines regarding the layout and presentation of your thesis, please consult the Doctoral College's Procedural documents available on the Doctoral College’s SharePoint page.
For questions about submission, contact the PGR Lifecycle Team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For discipline specific formatting questions, please contact your Director of Studies.
Why deposit in Pure
Theses are required to be added to the institutional repository known as Pure. Theses prior to 2019 were previously hosted on Curve, but these have subsequently been migrated over to Pure. Theses in Pure are also archived in the British Library's EThOS service.
The main benefit of depositing your work in the institutional Repository is increased access and promotion of your research to others in the field. Theses are likely to be read more widely if they are accessible on the Web, which can provide associated benefits such as increased citations for your research and the potential opportunity to collaborate with others working in your research area.
Open Access and Embargoes
By default, theses are deposited in Pure Open Access, but there may be valid reasons why you need to restrict access to your thesis. For instance, if you wish to publish your thesis, you may wish to request a two year embargo whilst you prepare for publication.
Usually embargos will only apply for a limited period of time but there are a few reasons why you may need an indefinite embargo. For instance, if your thesis contains sensitive or confidential information or has been commercially sponsored you may have signed an agreement which does not permit you to make it publicly available. You should talk to your Director of Studies when establishing if there is a need to restrict access to your thesis. They will be able to advise regarding an appropriate period of embargo for your thesis.
When submitting the Candidate's Declaration Form at the time you submit your thesis for examination you will be asked to indicate whether an embargo period is required. This form is available through the Doctoral College SharePoint site under the 'thesis preparation' tab.
Conversely, if you are granted an embargo but decide while the embargo is in effect that it is no longer necessary you can let us know by e-mailing email@example.com. We will contact your supervisor (or Head of School) to establish if it is appropriate to make the thesis available earlier.
How to Deposit
Following the examination and completion of any required corrections the PGR Lifecycle team will send out a copy of the Library Declaration and Deposit Agreement to you once your thesis is confirmed as having passed examination and you are invited to submit the final copy of your thesis. Please note this form is not available through the Doctoral College SharePoint Site.
Ideally your thesis should consist of a single PDF file. However, it is acceptable to deposit a small number of individual files if you experience major difficulties in producing a single file for conversion to PDF.
You should save the PDF version of your thesis using the following filename format:
If you are concerned that your PDF file is very large please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
The main body of your thesis, including appendices, associated images, data, tables etc. must be deposited as a PDF document. However, if your thesis has associated multimedia (e.g. sound file or video clips) these can be uploaded separately.
Theses Prior to 2008
If you submitted your PhD thesis before 2008 and would like to have it made available electronically then please email our team. We will need to check the thesis for any issues with copyright or data protection and will remove content where necessary before we digitize the thesis and make it openly available.
We sometimes get theses requests from non-Coventry University staff and students, particularly from the British Library Ethos service. If the thesis was submitted prior to 2008 then we will make every reasonable effort to track down and contact the author of the thesis for permission.
In order to make your thesis available in the institutional repository, you will need to seek permission if you want to include any third party copyright material. Traditionally it has been accepted that third party copyright material can be included in a print version of a thesis without seeking permission. However, it is good academic practice to do this and this is essential if your thesis is going to be made available online.
Please note that you will not be penalised if it is not possible to gain permission, either because permissions are not granted or because it would be too expensive to obtain permissions. This will simply mean that we will not be able to make your thesis available online. The outcome of your examination will not be affected in anyway. No student will be required to make any payments to copyright holders for material they wish to include in their thesis.
What to seek permission for
You will need permission for any third party copyright material you wish to include in your thesis, e.g. extracts from publications, or illustrations such as images, maps, photographs, tables etc.
If you have included a short quotation from a published work and have acknowledged and referenced it appropriately it is probably not necessary for you to seek permission from the copyright holder. Copyright law does not define what is meant by a short extract, and if you are in doubt it is probably best to seek permission.
If you intend to include material that you have published elsewhere (e.g. journal articles) you need to check that the publisher will allow you to include these as part of your thesis. The easiest way to do this is to contact the publisher directly and check. You will need to give the complete citation for the published work that you wish to include and specifically ask permission to include this work in within the electronic version of your thesis which will be made available in Coventry University's online research repository
How to seek permissions
In order to seek permission to include third party copyright material within the electronic version of your thesis you will need to contact the rights holder. The rights holder of the work you want to use may be the author, illustrator or publisher etc.
We would suggest that you contact the publisher in the first instance. Many publishers give details on their websites of how to seek permissions and who to contact. Look for information on rights / permissions / copyright clearance. If the publisher does not hold the rights to the work they should forward your enquiry to whoever does.
The Society of Authors provides guidance on how to ask for permissions and the circumstances when this is likely to be required. The database WATCH (Writers Artists and Their Copyright Holders) maintained by the University of Texas is a useful resource when searching for copyright holders, especially within the arts.
If the rights holder does not reply immediately, you may want to contact them again. Please note that you may not regard a lack of response as permission to include third party material in your thesis.
A template letter to request copyright permissions is available here:
Results of a Permission Request
If permission is granted you should indicate this at the appropriate point of your thesis, e.g. 'Permission to reproduce [make reference to the exact material included] has been granted by [name of the rights holder].' You should keep copies of any letters or emails that you receive from rights holders.
If you have been unable to secure all the necessary third party copyright permissions for your thesis you will not be able to make the full version available online. You will still be required to deposit this copy, and it will be held securely. However, you may wish to make an edited version publicly available. If this is the case you should save an additional copy of your thesis, remove the relevant material and insert a place holder at this point in the document, e.g. Figure (Text/Chart/Diagram/image etc.) has been removed due to Copyright restrictions. Remember that you need to deposit both the full and the edited version of your thesis, and that these should be given different filenames.
Thesis by Portfolio/Publication
Electronic theses available in the CU repository can be found using the University Library catalogue Locate. Theses that are print only, including those prior to 2008, can be found using Locate and then requested at the Library Reception Desk.
When theses are submitted, the University's Research Office forwards brief details of the thesis to the British Library Electronic Theses Online Service EThOS.
When searching generally for PhD theses, two useful resources are:
To search for theses from other universities you could also try searching their catalogues directly by going through libraries.org: A directory of libraries throughout the world. If you would like to see a thesis from another university you should consider using the Document Supply Service.
Coventry University Undergraduate and Masters' Dissertations
Unfortunately, only theses from PhD and Masters by Research are collected within Pure and therefore catalogued in Locate. If you are searching for your own Undergraduate or Taught Masters dissertation, we would suggest contacting your original faculty as they may have a copy or be able to direct you to where copies have been stored. Please note that not all faculties will be storing dissertations and that they may not be able to assist you.
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