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The ultimatum is well known to academics: publish original research, or risk damaging your reputation—or even losing a professorship.

The phrase publishes or perishes dates back to 1942 when a sociologist named Logan Wilson used it in a book studying academia as a career. At the time, he described the “publish or perish” credo as a “prevailing pragmatism forced upon the academic group,” and it still feels this way too many of today’s academics and researchers. For those working within the publish-or-perish system, it can be a stressful lifestyle.

Academics must publish research not simply to stay relevant, but it is also a requirement—and a critical performance indicator—at many colleges. Publication rates may be used to assess an academic’s worth at a certain university, and they can also influence who is granted tenure.

As you may expect, there is a lot of pressure to publish. Unfortunately, due to a rise in the number of academics globally, publishing an article is becoming increasingly challenging.

As a result, academics and researchers frequently criticize the publish-or-perish regime. In this article, we look at the system’s benefits and drawbacks, as well as the present situation of academic publishing and how academics might negotiate the “publish or perish” environment.

Is the “Publish or Perish” System Beneficial or Harmful?

The publish-or-perish method has sparked a lot of debate. Many individuals oppose the system, yet others recognize its benefits. This approach, like most things, has both advantages and disadvantages.


Confirms accuracy

Academic publications make it a point to have all submitted research go through a thorough review process by experts in the area. This procedure takes time, but it assures that misleading information is not out there. By compelling researchers to submit to high-quality, peer-reviewed journals, the publish-or-perish system serves to encourage correctness in academia.

Ensures accountability

The publish-or-perish system makes academics accountable to the public, ensuring that they accomplish their objectives and do research that will benefit their areas. As a result, many people regard publishing as a moral obligation. Because public institutions are funded by the government, the research they generate should be available to the general population. (This argument also supports open-access publication, which is a hot subject in the academic sector.)

Ensures honesty

Academics who publish are aware that their techniques and studies will be assessed by other industry professionals and journal editors, which ensures honesty. This awareness keeps them from cutting corners and motivates them to prioritize precision over anything else.

Allows for communication

Publishing research allows you to communicate your results with others in the field. Other industry professionals might build on earlier studies to further their own.

Builds a reputation

As a professional in any field, it is critical to have a positive reputation. Some claim that writing allows academics to establish themselves as active participants and authority in their fields. An academic’s position as a scholar is recognized by his or her publication, which allows him/her to cooperate with other specialists.



Inhibits idea development

One of the most prevalent objections against the publish-or-perish mentality is that it forces academics to publish too frequently, preventing researchers from giving their ideas enough time to grow.

Increases pressure

Academics should publish frequently, as their rate of publication is indicative of their performance in institutions and show their academic progress. Academics must publish often not simply to stay relevant, but also to get their research validated by their superiors.

Revokes control

Academics have limited influence over the publication process, which revokes power. Publishers have complete control over the time a work is read, evaluated, and published . Despite this lack of control, academic writing has a direct influence on promotions, grants, scholarships, and financing opportunities.

Resulting in discrimination

Critics of the publish-or-perish method frequently point out the system’s faults. Women, for example, are less likely than their male counterparts to publish their works, and ethnic minorities endure prejudice in academia and academic publication.

Promotes a for-profit business model

Another issue that academics are concerned about is many publications’ for-profit attitude.  Scholar should publish their research because it will benefit a certain field, not just because it is profitable.

There’s no argue that getting published feels fantastic and may help advance an academic career, but there’s also no denying that the publish-or-perish system puts academics and institutions under too much stress.

The Numbers

Like any good researcher will tell you, numbers don’t lie. Thankfully, there are plenty of statistics on the publish-or-perish system and how it relates to academic publishing. Below are just a few facts and figures to help give some perspective on the state of academic publishing.

  • In 2015, there were 55,006 scientific and engineering Ph.D. holders from US institutions, up to 16,340 in 1965. That’s a 38,666 rise in academics!
  • In 2015, men made up 54 percent of Ph.D. recipients, while women made up 46 percent.
  • Competition is fierce among academics, especially when they are submitting papers to the same journals. Many prestigious publications have rejection rates of more than 90%.
  • Despite this, there were 2,199,704 scientific and engineering publications published globally in 2013.
  • A submission takes an average of 124 days to achieve publication, according to PubMed.
  • Finally, in 2014, US colleges and universities spent $67.3 billion on research and development across all sectors.

Navigating Publish or Perish

Publishing or perish is a reality for today’s academics, whether they like it or not. How do you compete in such a crowded, and at times vicious, environment? Knowing what you’re up against is half the fight, but when faced with the difficulty of prospering in the publish-or-perish system, it’s easy to get disheartened. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you succeed:

  1. Academic publications can choose from a wide range of studies conducted by highly competent specialists. Ensure that your research approach is good and that your final result is clear and correct, whether you submit to these publications or self-publish. This implies that you must edit, edit, and edit some more! Before you submit your work, ask a competent academic editor to review it. You don’t want your study to be harmed or distracted by grammatical or spelling issues.
  2. To the letter, follow the directions provided by your intended publisher. With so much competition, you can’t afford to miss out on a publication because you didn’t follow the submission requirements or style guide.
  3. When at all feasible, network. Give genuine compliments, reach out to industry influencers, and present a professional and trustworthy presence on social media.
  1. Don’t give up if you’re denied. Submit to additional relevant journals, listen to editors and reviewers, and be prepared to change or go back to the drawing board if necessary. It’s a long process, but patience pays off.

It’s doubtful that the publish-or-perish regime will alter very soon. Despite the fact that a record number of academics are submitting work to a small number of publications, you may utilize the information in this article to explore all options and improve your publication chances.

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