• Danny Raj M

On publishing in research

I think every researcher should work hard to publish his/her results. George Whitesides, Professor from MIT in his article on ‘how to write a paper’, says, “If your research does not generate papers, it might just as well not have been done. ‘Interesting and unpublished’ is equivalent to ‘non-existent’ “[1].


There are four reasons why I feel writing an article is important.

First, that's the way ‘science’ works - based on peer-review by ‘experts- peers’ in the field and acceptance by a community of researchers. It is very important to understand that science is a social phenomenon [2].

Second, publishing makes the work available for the world to see and learn. It is a contribution by the author, to the whole body of science, big or small. Powerful search engines (like google) have increased the visibility of online resources. Anyone who searches with appropriate keywords, can find your published research, unlike the old days when one has to subscribe to a selected set of journals.

Third, and the main reason why I look forward to publishing, is because the writing process is extremely self-rewarding. When you put your thoughts down on a paper and try to shape it into the form of a narrative, the big picture of the work emerges. You start to see how the different analyses that you have done, fall in place with the narrative and most important of all, you see the holes in your plot. You will also identify the work that has to be done to make a convincing argument for the hypothesis you are presenting.

Fourth, the number of publications and the quality of the journal where you publish, are measures of how effectively research is conducted in your lab. Thus, it will be very important for the growth of your academic career. It serves as a metric to justify public money spent on research. In addition, jobs in academia are becoming increasingly competitive and it makes sense to hire someone who can disseminate the work done in a lab to the mass of public by publishing in peer-reviewed journals.


References:

[1] George Whitesides, Whitesides group: writing a paper, Advanced Materials (2004),16, no. 15. [DOI: 10.1002/adma.200400767]

[2] Sundar Sarukkai, What is science?, National book trust India. [ISBN: 978-81-237-6366-8]