Career Development

Why being published matters so much for science careers

In science and academia, getting published is a prodigious milestone for an individual.

In science and academia, getting published is a prodigious milestone for an individual. Publishing one’s work, especially in peer-reviewed journals, is a great way to share research findings and potentially provide answers to complex problems that may otherwise affect the population on a global scale. In the light of the current pandemic sweeping the planet, the term “Publish or Perish,” initially coined by Harold Jefferson Coolidge, gives it a more realistic meaning. But what does getting published mean? And what is the importance of getting your work published?

Scientific journals are a specialized type of publication that features academic work and research. Similar experts in a particular field review publications in a scientific journal and undergo a series of deliberations before publication. The history of publishing scientific and scholarly articles dates back to 1665, publishing the first scientific journal by Henry Oldenburg. Known as Philosophical Transactions,it came to be the earliest and longest-running scientific journal to date. With the emergence of the first scientific journal, scientists can come together, share their knowledge, and have previous findings reviewed by their peers. As knowledge became more collective, many scientists could build on the theories of their peers to advance their own. The rise of peer-reviewed scientific journals made more people interested in the sciences, opening up the avenue for grants from the government and private sectors.

The etymology of the word “Science” is from the Latin word “Scientia,” meaning “knowledge.” Essentially, when you contribute to science, you are contributing knowledge. Getting your work published in a peer-reviewed journal means you are using your findings to contribute to the pool of knowledge that people can use to address otherwise unanswered questions. An integrated knowledge base is only possible when experts in a field come together and share their findings. Getting published opens avenues for collaboration with experts in your area and expand your conclusions.

When you publish your work, you make it known that you’ve done the research and made findings. Publishing your work makes it easier for people to avoid redundancy in studying the same material. Instead of devoting their time and effort to replicate something you’ve researched, other scientists can devote their time to pick up where you left off. They can build off their postulates with findings from previously published work to build their own, strengthening the conclusions of published journals while working their way to publish their scientific reports. But on the downside, getting published also means that your peers will put your work under much scrutiny.

Publishing your work in a peer-reviewed journal makes your work visible to your peers. Most scientific journals have vast networks and can reach their target audience by distributing to libraries, research schools, and other scientific institutions. Today, many peer-reviewed journals are accessible online, making information instantly available. When you have your work published, you reach out to a network of like-minded individuals outside your immediate circle.

Publishing your work in a respected journal may not only jumpstart your career advancement. It is also a means to secure a grant. Most fields in the sciences and academe hold in high regard those who can get published in respected journals such as Nature, Science, and The New England Journal of Medicine. Although it is considerably harder to get published in these more prominent journals, getting your work in these journals means experts in a field have thoroughly reviewed it. Although some feel that the pressure to publish in big-name journals puts those early-career scientists at a disadvantage, researchers and scientists cannot deny that publication in prominent science journals helps bolster your career and help you vie for a senior position.


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