Writing a paper jointly authored with your supervisor

Writing a paper jointly authored with your supervisor

Given the amount of research you will be doing, and its necessarily original nature, it makes sense to publish at least some of your work while you are still a student. This is because your full focus should be on research and you have the benefit of academic support from your supervisor. Furthermore, while you are still a student it may be easier to accept a paper being rejected, which is an almost inevitable experience for all academics. These factors mean that you are in as good a situation as you are ever likely to be to publish your first paper.

While you should be well situated to publish, the process is still quite daunting. One option to help you get started with academic publishing is to co-author a paper. While you could chose a different co-author, if you have a good relationship, and he or she is willing to help you get a publication or two under your belt, then it makes good sense to team up with your supervisor. In some disciplines, such as the sciences, where multi-authored papers are the norm, this may happen as a matter of course. If, however, your supervisor does not raise the issue, then it is something you should suggest.

Before you approach your supervisor, you should do some preparatory research. It is important to have a solid idea for an article, preferably with a working research question and at least an outline plan, as this will give you something to discuss. Furthermore, your supervisor is more likely to agree to co-author a paper if it is clear that you will pull your weight. Whether you, or your supervisor, take the lead in writing the paper is a matter for discussion and you should clarify the extent of your supervisor’s involvement early in the process.

We have suggested that co-authoring a paper with your supervisor may be a good way to get into academic publishing, but that you should be well prepared before raising the issue and that you should establish the ground rules of the cooperation.

If you need additional support with writing an article, or with any aspect of your PhD, the PhD Consultancy has a wide range of experts who can be of help.