More on the criteria for earning the Ph.D.

May 11, 2011

GMP is raging.

I am in a physical science field where journal publications are the most important, and many (many!) faculty have the criterion of 3 journal publications, preferably from the dissertation work, as necessary for graduation. I was quite peeved when I realized that this student would graduate with zero papers

ok. peeved. Why?

I asked the student if there was a reason that he was graduating without a single journal paper; if there was a reason that he must be graduating now and not in, say, a year?…He said it’s because his wife and he had been living apart for some months and he also happened to find a job there. I almost blew my top off

Look. We’re already in a bad place here, GMP.


First, you admit by your use of “many” that it is equally true that there are no hard-and-fast rules with respect to publication. You further emphasize that the criterion is held by “faculty”, i.e., individuals on doctoral committees, and not by programs or departments. So it is possible, that this student has been judged ready to defend by his thesis advisor. After that, it is up to the doctoral committee to either concur or object. So your proposal that this person should stick around merely to get a paper published should be viewed as your preference for icing on the cake, right?
Icing on the cake, versus moving on with one’s life to (re)join a spouse in another city. Real life, versus your personal preference for academic icing. It is one thing to express your personal and/or professional position. But this petulant outrage about it? Seriously? Um. Fuck you. Yeah, I mean that in the nice way since we’re blog acquaintances and all. But really. Get a fucking grip.
Ok, ok. I should extend some latitude. Perhaps there is something else at stake? Beyond a foot stamping belief that someone is getting away with one?

How much can we speak of universal graduation criteria in a department versus the discretion of the advisor? In my and related disciplines throughout the world peer-reviewed publications are required in order to get a PhD.

Look. They are either required, in which case you all should have been voting against awarding the Ph.D. or they are not. Heavily desired, demanded by some committees perhaps…but required? Clearly this is false. I happen to think it is actually a bad thing to make publication requirements,

I am not in agreement with this criterion. Especially given the large number of factors that govern successful publication that are independent of the degree to which the grad student has learned and been trained.
Furthermore, it suggests that experimental “success” vs. “failure” determines the quality of the effort. This is wrong and perpetuates a culture in which the pressure to fake and cheat is ever increasing.

but my personal attitude is not relevant here since GMP has herself admitted, through what she has written, that publication is not an actual bedrock requirement of the Ph.D. Even in her “real” hard science discipline that is so superior and rigorous to the rest of ours.
Nevertheless, she is a member of the Academy and is full welcome to have her own standards and viewpoints and to express (and act upon) them. That’s the way the system works. And we should listen (read) closely for anything that looks like a sort-of justifiable reason. Here it is:

A student with a poor quality PhD drags down the value of everyone else’s degree from the same institution.

Ok. I can get behind this sort of rationale. Is it true, however?
And here is where we arrive at the most interesting discussion point. How do we assess the quality of the institution? or, more likely, the quality of a specific disciplinary graduate training program? Sure, at some levels of periodic formal review of the program, perhaps a quantification of the number of papers published by Ph.D. grads, and the status of journals in which they are published, comes into play. But these reviews of programs also focus on other matters. Important ones, in my experience, include the median time to completion of the Ph.D., where postdoctoral training is sought and the eventual employment destination of students within academia and elsewhere.
It should not escape your attention that these outcomes of program “success” may not be in such lockstep with publishing papers as a graduate student. One major determinant of faculty hiring is the recent, i.e., postdoctoral, publication record of the candidate. It should be no surprise that a stellar publication record as a graduate student isn’t going to cover over a poor record as a postdoc. Conversely, a crappy publication record as a graduate student will be more or less ignored if the person has three first author CNS papers as a postdoc. Right?
And general age factors are involved if the doctoral program is reviewed on the basis of eventual faculty appointments, right? Time is a’ticking. An extra year, systematically applied, only for the sake of publications that will be irrelevant up against the postdoctoral performance makes the program look worse on the time to eventual faculty appointment scale.
Then we get off into the line of motivational factors. GMP herself mentions people that decide to stop short of the PhD for family or other real life reasons. This is no credit to the graduate program if a lot of people drop out (well, in some views anyway). It is likewise no credit if their graduates, with the extra year of publications in hand, are more likely to step off the bus during what should be the postdoctoral years either. So this raging against decisions being made (on the part of the trainee) to ignore the chance for a publication so as to join his wife a year earlier doesn’t really account for the fact that these are people with lives (*cough*Kern!*cough*cough*) we’re talking about, does it?
I come at last to my own considerations of “reputation” of graduate training programs. I confess, when trainees are still pre-doc or recently annointed, I don’t get a general impression of them by toting up their pubs. Yes, it contributes some but really, how could I possibly keep track? The things that contribute in a big way are my direct interactions and experiences at meetings. Poster conversations, their presentation of data from the platform, etc. This is what convinces me that the training program is a stellar one….the trainees appear to be good scientists with a head on their shoulders. At the next stage, again, it is a Gestalt impression based on those individuals who are lucky enough to land faculty gigs. And the occasional person in similar level jobs in industry. The ones that have failed out of the graduate program don’t really enter the picture. There could be 50 grads of Department of -ology from Massive Research University who have left the field, and this doesn’t really influence my impression- which is based on the 5 grads who have current faculty appointments in -ology. My impression of their publication record is likewise dominated by how they are doing as faculty and, maybe, how they have just done as postdocs. As graduate students? Puh-leeze. I mean, maybe if they have a great paper I’ll remember them…
As one example, there was a graduate student author of a foundational paper which relates to much of my research focus who has apparently disappeared from science. Or at least from -ology. The paper remains (and really, this is quite an accomplishment) but what does it matter to my assessment of the graduate program? How should I view it? As an amazing success for the department because this great paper was produced by a graduate student in training there? Or crappy because this dude has disappeared, never to be heard from again?
Then there are some other folks I’ve followed over the years. Some who didn’t do jack squatte as graduate students, or maybe struggled in one or another postdoc, but then went on to faculty appointments, a slew of pubs and a comfortable amount of grant support. How should I view their graduate departments? As sucky because they let these losers out without 3 (or 2 or 1) published articles? Or as brilliant because they recognized the person in question was sufficiently trained and that papers were just not relevant to the qualifications for Ph.D. (and, by the way, did not necessarily predict this person would never publish anything ever)?
My point is that there are very good reasons not to have hard and fast rules regarding the qualifications for a Ph.D. and to leave it up to the professional opinion of a committee of faculty. First, because hard and fast rules cannot possibly capture the nuances of every candidate’s preparation for a life as a Ph.D.-wielding member of whatever professional role they are to play. Second because real-life considerations do matter. And third because the connection to the “reputation” of the Department’s graduate program is unclear to me.

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76 Responses to “More on the criteria for earning the Ph.D.”

  1. Dr. O Says:

    I almost completely agree with you, especially in regards to the fact that a hard and fast publication requirement is a total waste of time and, frankly, impossible to implement.
    However, I think it’s important to consider that the student GMP speaks of (in a *hard* STEM field) and our experiences in biomedical research differ considerably, in that grad students in her field don’t always do postdoctoral work, even for entry into TT positions. As a result, their publication records as grad students are much more important than what I ever had to worry about.
    On the flip side, there’s no indication that this student intended to stay in academia, or even research (??), and he had evidently secured a job without the publications. So, again, pub requirement not really needed.
    Personally, I think GMP is more upset by the fact that a project she’s collaborated on isn’t getting published…which is a valid concern. But it’s a different concern than worrying about the student’s grad requirements, IMVHO.

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  2. Thank you for this analysis. I neglected to write in the comments on GMP’s post yesterday, but it’s been bothering me.
    “This is no credit to the graduate program if a lot of people drop out (well, in some views anyway). ”
    In other parts of the wimin in science debate, there has been a lot of discussion and hand wringing about the fact that females leave at various stages of their early careers because of outside life pressures*. The PhD candidate in question here happens to be male, but I think that some of the arguments still hold. Leaving a graduate program does not reflect well on the quality of the program. On the other hand, being known as friendly to family situations can help recruit good students in an entering class.
    I am a post doc, and I am in a non-lab science where publication expectations vary greatly between subfields. This colors my thinking. Having said that, at least in my field, schools are ranked by outside agencies, and by prospective graduate students based on where graduates are placed. If I understand correctly, this candidate already _has_ a job. He’s been placed. Not only has his advisor thought his research good enough to defend, but so has a hiring committee somewhere else. At this point, it’s up to him to make his career work at this new job. It is unclear from the post whether the candidate is continuing in academia or industry. If the former, he will sink or swim based on the strengths of his future publications. If the latter, I’m not sure what point is served by denying him a PhD.
    *I do not know that GMP has ever voiced this concern, but I’ve only started reading her recently.

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  3. DrugMonkey Says:

    Personally, I think GMP is more upset by the fact that a project she’s collaborated on isn’t getting published…which is a valid concern.
    It is a valid scientific-collaboration concern. It is very dangerous terrain, however, to place a hard criterion that a student is only ready to defend her Ph.D. when she has produced a publication. Whether that be “for” her supervising PI or “for” a member of her committee.
    First because it puts a premium on experimental “success”, meaning a positive outcome. Bad for all kinds of reasons, most importantly because it pushes the grad student away from risky stuff. If there is a time for risky ideas, graduate training should be it. Second, because it just ramps up the pressure to fake data. Third, because it is just plain wrong to put a PI’s interest in publishing a paper in place of good *training*. We are supposed to have a somewhat custodial, instructional role as mentors supervising a doctoral student. Even more so than for a postdoc, I would submit.

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  4. Joe Says:

    As brought up in the comments on the linked post, the “permission to write” meeting is important. The decision about whether the student has done the necessary work/thinking to earn the PhD should be mostly made then and not put off until defense day. It seems GMP felt pressured to pass the student on defense day. With a rigorous prospectus meeting 6mos before the planned defense, no one would be put in this position.
    I agree that publication is not necessary for the PhD, but it is in everyone’s interest in most circumstances.

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  5. David Marjanović Says:

    Staying a year longer just to publish the work that was done for the finished thesis? From a French perspective, that’s laughable at best. In France, doctoral theses are expected to take exactly three years; not less, not more. This is a matter of national bureaucracy. If you haven’t finished after 3 years, you can apply for a fourth year, but that’s not trivial, and forget applying for a fifth. The university has the right to deny your application and simply kick you out.
    OK, OK, France is an extreme case. Austria has a minimum duration of 2 years and no maximum duration for a doctorate (…except that the national subsidy, which you get if you aren’t too rich, ends after 2 1/2 years). But still…
    Depending on such things as the job market, it is of course good to start publishing before you have to look for a job or a postdoc. (And indeed, my thesis, cosupervised in France and Austria, consists of 4 published papers, 1 accepted manuscript that was published before I defended, and 2 manuscripts that I hadn’t got into a submittable state yet.) But I don’t see why this should be a requirement. Indeed, the traditional way to do things seems to be to first write and defend your thesis and then publish it as a monograph or three.

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  6. David Marjanović Says:

    First because it puts a premium on experimental “success”, meaning a positive outcome. Bad for all kinds of reasons, most importantly because it pushes the grad student away from risky stuff. If there is a time for risky ideas, graduate training should be it. Second, because it just ramps up the pressure to fake data. Third, because it is just plain wrong to put a PI’s interest in publishing a paper in place of good *training*. We are supposed to have a somewhat custodial, instructional role as mentors supervising a doctoral student. Even more so than for a postdoc, I would submit.

    Seconded.
    I overlooked the first two points because they pretty much don’t apply to my discipline — there isn’t much experimentation in phylogenetic analysis and divergence dating.

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  7. Isis the Scientist Says:

    I don’t think publications should be a requirement for tenure either. It discourages against risky science and encourages fraud.

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  8. DrugMonkey Says:

    And are you aware of many Unis that have hard and fast rules for publication *count* Isis? Look, I’m fine with dissertations and qualifying exams of various stripes being the standard. The point is notthat there can be none for doctoral students. This does not mean, however, that PIs should be judged by writing dissertations. Different standards can certainly apply. And even if you are rightened the pressures to fake are present, consider how much training on research ethics has been put upon a faculty member. Totally false equivalency you raise.

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  9. Isis the Scientist Says:

    Also, students’ publications should not count if they are published in journals with IF

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  10. Laura Says:

    My neuroscience graduate program recently debated whether or not to implement a hard-and-fast publication rule for graduation. The ultimate decision was that the program “recommends” (but does not require) at least one accepted first-author publication. Many students, when they heard that this was up for discussion, were surprised to learn that publication was not already required.
    I tend to agree with DrugMonkey that there should not be a firm publication requirement. In addition to the reasons given above, I think that such a policy also discourages students from submitting to top journals. Having recently watched some of my peers going through the revision process, I’m not sure that I would gamble a year of my life/career for a high-impact paper if I knew I could get it accepted faster at a less selective journal. I don’t think that’s the lesson my program is trying to impart.
    Ultimately, I think the decision as to whether a student is ready to graduate should be made by his/her dissertation committee, not by reviewers and editors of J. Whateversci.

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  11. Mu Says:

    My institution had a fixed “2 years research +6 months to write and defend” policy. Working for an assistant professor with publication requirements I got 3 papers in decent journals out of it. Looking back, mine (and a fellow grad student’s research done on the same subject) would have made one really top notch paper for a top tier journal without the “quantity counts” requirement my boss was subject to.
    Now I see GMP griping about someone who spend years setting up a huge experiment graduating without enough experimental results to justify a publication, and all I can think off is “what a horse’s rear end”. She seems to be more afraid of funding consequences for her then of negative influences for the students career, so, most likely, as the builder of the set-up the student is going to get author’s credit for years of results to come. She’s also clamoring about some informal requirement to produce publications – as a grad student denied graduation I’d have a lawyer on that in a hurry for misleading advertisement if there are graduation requirements the catalog doesn’t mention. And she’s contributing to the never ending list of mediocre papers no one reads, “peer reviewed” by the peers with biweekly papers in the pipeline themselves. Maybe it’s time for some academics to remember that Nobel prices are rarely awarded for paper #29 out of a series of 45.

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  12. marcus Says:

    ok. I’m glad I’m not the only one who found that post odd.
    I agree that publication is not necessary for the PhD, but it is in everyone’s interest in most circumstances.
    It sounds like student wasn’t in that circumstance. GMP gives the impression that she is pissed the student just wants to finish and isn’t going the gungho-sacrifice-everything-R1 research route. He want’s live live with his wife!? Crazy! How could that be as important as publishing a paper.

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  13. Canadian Brain Says:

    I do worry (not that i’m staying up at nights) over the thesis quality of the sort of student GMP describes. Its not spending 3 years perfecting a technique isn’t useful, but if the trainee is spending those years troubleshooting, tinkering, duct-taping, etc… then are they really gaining the skills required to “deserve” a PhD? Writing articles/grants/proposals is probably the most important skill i learned in my PhD, while the actual techniques, although useful, are fading rapidly…
    Of course, the same concerns could be voiced about a trainee who gets 5 papers published over 3 years, but is simply following the PIs plan and doesn’t actually write the papers. I guess the real problem, as always, is the quality of the PI, and the importance they place on “Training” their students…

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  14. Eric Lund Says:

    Of course, the same concerns could be voiced about a trainee who gets 5 papers published over 3 years, but is simply following the PIs plan and doesn’t actually write the papers.
    This is a valid point. It is generally assumed that the first author wrote most of the text of the paper (co-authors may have contributed paragraphs here and there), but in most cases there is no way to check this (and most of the exceptions involve plagiarism). The point becomes all the more important when you remember that many grad students, at least in the US, are not native English speakers. One can make the case that being able to write English prose is a necessary part of being a scientist, as almost all science these days is conducted in English (this was not always true–prior to 1940 German was the dominant language, and at least in physics there used to be several journals consisting of nothing but translations of Soviet/Russian literature). But the thesis could certainly serve this purpose as well as journal publications–perhaps even better since the professors on the thesis committee actually know the student and are therefore in a better position to verify that the student is actually doing the writing than the anonymous referees who may or may not know the student or his advisor. However, GMP does not indicate whether the student in question is a foreigner.
    I do know of departments where publication is a specific requirement. A Swedish Ph.D. physics thesis (I have two examples on my bookshelf) consists of a chapter of introductory material and a series of typically ~5 papers (they don’t all have to be published, and they don’t all have to be first author papers, but at least one of them should satisfy both criteria). I am in a subfield which for historical and geographical reasons attracts considerable interest in Sweden, so I cannot say whether the publication requirement contributes to the overrepresentation of Swedes in my field.

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  15. GMP Says:

    It is one thing to express your personal and/or professional position. But this petulant outrage about it? Seriously? Um. Fuck you. Yeah, I mean that in the nice way since we’re blog acquaintances and all. But really. Get a fucking grip.
    Dude. All I did was wrote a blog post on a pseudonymous blog. So you don’t agree, fine. Talk about “petulant outrage”…

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  16. Isis the Scientist Says:

    Personally, I think DM needs to work on his tone. Highly uncivil.

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  17. Guy without borders Says:

    I think because of the nature of male and female personal inclination towards online reading and sex ratios in academia, DM blog seems to have more readership which sometimes leads to spawning a lot of comments or opinion. In a similar way but not in line with common theme usually seen in male written blog, GMP blog tends to garner a few comments given casually or without much interactive conversation. But I say GMP blog is also worth of reading. Besides, due to continuing existence of male dominance over the opposite sex, it’s mostly overlooked when man swear profanity online but if female just use “Dik”, it’s gonna gather a swarm of comments. It’s it’s beyond the line to shout aloud “fuck you” in even in pseudonym on the grounds that GMP is not arguing with DM but she’s just expressing her what you called “petulant outrage”. For “i can see the horse’s rear end’, c’mon she can simply say “you just a dood from a hole”. If you even pronounce excitedly.

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  18. Anon Says:

    In her previous post, GMP had a frustration with the city where she works, because apparently people are not friendly enough. She said that perhaps it could be that she is an immigrant (so, read between the lines, her neighbors are some xenophobes), but she still won;t befriend people from her birth country, as she emigrated to see fewer of them (talk about hatred here).
    So, in a comment, I made the points that everybody at her age and status has this problem, and that she should try harder, by trying to lure the other people (food, I suggested) and by cutting on negativity.
    She replied that I am xenophobe. Oh, well, negative karma as usual.
    Next, I say I am no xenophobe and she deletes my comment. Why won’t you delete her comment about manners. It’s not on topic anyway. We can have a discussion about manners and negativity on her blog, either under the post “I can’t make any friends”, or under the one “I wonder why students avoid joining my lab, as I make sure that they get 3 papers in their first 7 years.”

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  19. Anonymous Says:

    At some iuniversities, including the one where I did my PhD, the belief is still that a PhD candidate must produce a thesis, as opposed to a bunch of papers. Paper publication is therefore not emphasised at all prior to handing in, (in my view to the detriment of the candidate who is looking for a job, with no published papers). On the other hand, the candidate should have produced a scholarly and complete piece of research, written almost entirely by them.

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  20. Conversely, a crappy publication record as a graduate student will be more or less ignored if the person has three first author CNS papers as a postdoc. Right?

    A crappy publication record as a grad student will be more or less ignored if the person has a single first-author CNS paper as a postdoc.

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  21. Pinko Punko Says:

    Except when the rest of the candidates have the CNS and a record of productivity as GS and PD.
    I’m in favor of the at least one publication being the rule, with the hopes that the committee will push the PI to publish because the student shouldn’t be held back by any PI pathology (or in this case could overrule the “rule”), but I do favor that you should present your work in the form of a publication to the scientific community to earn what should be some form of honor, the Ph.D., not just getting your time card stamped.

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  22. This post is almost as long as my PhD thesis was.

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  23. Anon Says:

    I’m with GMP on this one. Learning how to write and defend a manuscript is a skill that we as faculty should be required to teach our trainees and that our PhD students should be required to master before leaving with a PhD. The thesis defense is usually a joke, as all of the comments on GMP’s blog has pointed out. Basically, the thesis is only a rubber stamp. This is why some US schools (notably UC Berkeley) have completely eliminated the defense – because it does not provide appropriate quality control. A manuscript, on the other hand, receives external peer-review, for better or for worse. This is an important part of being trained as a scientist. Secondly, in my field, papers as a grad student are definitely heavily considered both in faculty hiring decisions and in industry jobs. An advisor letting a student leave early for any reason is not doing the student any favors.
    Finally, most in my field consider a PhD from one of the countries with a mandatory graduation time (e.g., France) to be more of a MS thesis instead of a true PhD thesis. How can anyone be expected to really trouble-shoot a meaningful problem in only 2-3 years?

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  24. Hermitage Says:

    There is an almost obstinate insistence from biomed folks to look at every GMP post through their field’s lense. She has said repeatedly (and other people in similar fields, including me) that postdocs are not necessarily the norm . Not every field involves chainganging their grad students into 7 year postdocs to get a faculty job, teh horrorz! So yes, the pressure on grad student ‘quality’ is higher because it many cases it is terminal training.
    I distinctly recall either DM or CPP (or maybe both) roasting GMP’s ass for not open-sourcing her ongoing coding work to the whole wide world because that was the ‘right thing to do’. But now you turn around and shrug your shoulders about a grad student who has spent several years developing (apparently) novel instrumentation that is now finished work , but has no interest in disseminating it to the general public (publication). If anyone ever wants to rebuild, recreate, or simply understand the mechanisms involved, they should do what? Borrow and then wade through the minutiae of this person’s thesis, which, if he is defending earlier than was anticipated, was likely written last minute?

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  25. Anonymous Says:

    drugmonkey,
    would you seriously ever let a student leave without having submitted a single publication? I think you are out of line here and GMP was being quite reasonable.

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  26. DrugMonkey Says:

    Anonymous@25-
    Of course I would. It is not preferred or ideal, and I never said it was. I am recognizing that sometimes it is most appropriate to let the trainee defend w/o a published paper.
    Hermitage- open source what? I think you have the wrong bloggers on that one.
    Anon@23- a monolithic dissertation is, except in highly unusual cases, the student’s own work. In contrast, papers are not (at least in biomed). They are collaborative efforts in which the PI is going to take a strong interest in what is said, how reviews are responded to, etc. It is quite possible for a grad student to have multiple papers and yet really not have much of a clue about the process. The fact of authorship doesn’t prove anything or guarantee anything about that student’s training.
    Grad: “Dudes, I got my three papers so I’m done!”
    DM: “yes but one was from your rotation where Asst Prof Yun Gun needed a first author to establish senior author status- she actually wrote it. Then this next one you got lucky being put on the assay that made the paper that postdoc had been working his ass on upgrade to Nature Neuroscience and you whined to the PI for co-contribution credit. This last one looks like your work, mostly but it is a cookie cutter paper that follows four other bread and butter papers from the laboratory. And when you talk about your progress with your committee, we can’t tell if you know much at all!”
    Grad: ” The GMP rule is three papers. I have my three papers so I’ve earned my PhD! If you don’t pass me you must be biased– I’m gonna SUE!”

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  27. mikka Says:

    DM, that hypothetical grad student shows a sense of entitlement, an ability to be in the right place at the right time, and an unabashed ego that will take him places! He’s ready to be a PI!

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  28. CD0 Says:

    Sorry guys, but Science is primarily communicated thorugh peer-reviewed publications.If you graduate without a single paper, you are missing a critical aspect of your training.
    We can discuss about numbers, quality or whatever, but in Science your succes is not measured in terms of audience ratings, popularity in polls, visits to a Website or downloads in the Internet.
    I see peer-review as the foundation of Science and, in my opinion, it needs to be part of a decent PhD experience.
    Personally, I would never recruit a postdoc without a single publication during his/her PhD.

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  29. Anon Says:

    “But this petulant outrage about it? Seriously? Um. Fuck you”
    Wow, what a drivel, DM, you have seriously lost it. Lambasting GMP for raising concerns about lack of quality control—that is consistent with her field—at the gates of PhD defense/submission is completely insane.
    This fluffy verbiage almost makes me think that DM is some crusty old dood who is used to run his sweatshop on an army of (probably imported) postdocs, where no knows how many PhD students come and go and what they did while they were serving their time. Almost.
    It is also sad to see so many of commentariat playing sheeple and falling over each other condemning GMP without even pausing to consider what she is really trying to say.
    Anyway, what is it with you guys when every time GMP writes something about her field and her own experiences (the issue of English for her non-English speaking grad students comes to mind), you go and hound her like bloodthirsty hyenas? Or is it because she is not one of your groupies?

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  30. bsci Says:

    would you seriously ever let a student leave without having submitted a single publication?
    I think there’s a big difference with this than the original example. I completely agree with drugmonkey that there should be an hard publish-for-PhD rule, but I can’t think of a situation where someone deserves a PhD without reaching the point of being able to SUBMIT an article for publication. My advisor’s general criteria was 3 publication quality pieces of work. (I ended up submitting & publishing 2 of them).
    It’s not ok to leave a degree to the whims of peer reviewers, but someone has to at least show the ability to bring a project to completion. Now back to my own paper writing.

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  31. DrugMonkey Says:

    @29-
    Yes, you’ve nailed my lab precisely. You have the groupie thing backwards though. It is I a that am a big fan of her ranting and FWDAOTI skills.
    Bsci-
    You have a lack of imagination. Either that or you are simply expressing circular logic which is of no probative value.
    CD0-
    Sure. But there are numerous other skills of “critical” importance that are not equally made into hard criteria for the PhD.

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  32. Namnezia Says:

    I agree with GMP. While DM is right that there is not a hard and fast requirement in most programs for publications, most committee expect at least one. And they very well should. Learning to write and submit papers is one of many valuable skills you learn as a graduate student, and it would be a disservice to the student to let them graduate with publications. CPP says that a crappy publication record in grad school will be ignored if the person gets a C/N/S paper as a postdoc, but assuming the lack of publication did not result from bad mentoring, a student that cannot get their act together to publish their work, I think is unlikely to get a C/N/S paper as a postdoc. For one they will have trouble in securing a position in a top lab as a postdoc. I’ve seen this with student leaving our grad program. The ones who have a good publication record tend to go on to stellar postdocs, whereas the one with no publications tend not to. I for one would not seriously consider a postdoc applicant to my lab with no publications unless there were extenuating circumstances.

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  33. Namnezia Says:

    I meant “graduate without publications”…

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  34. dsks Says:

    A thesis defence before an external examiner qualified to assess quality is peer review, kids. Anyone who seriously wants to argue that a 3-4 hour grilling by a professional in that field is a less substantial form of peer review inre an INDIVIDUAL’S scientific competence versus a coupla of reviewers jotting down a page worth of comments on a manuscript that, for all they know, was written by the PI and describes experiments 100% delegated by the PI, is a goddamn fool.

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  35. anonymous Says:

    I don’t get it. If they don’t write any papers, but have passed their exams, give them a Master’s degree. Students should not be awarded “default” PhD’s if they cannot even produce enough data to write a single paper in their field.
    Going through the process of writing an actual paper is THE ONLY WAY to learn how to write papers. Granting a student a PhD that has never gone through the publication process is a disservice to them – they are now overqualified for any job they might have been able to get with the more appropriate Master’s degree and deeply underqualified to stay in research science. Also, it’s passing the buck of writing training on to whoever will advise them as a post-doc.

    Like

  36. Namnezia Says:

    dsks: “A thesis defence before an external examiner qualified to assess quality is peer review, kids.”
    Yes, but its not the type of peer review you will experience during the rest of your scientific career. At least in my field, the grilling by the external reviewer +committee following defense rarely lasts more than an hour and is mostly a rubber stamp. As GMP pointed out it is difficult to object to a PhD once a dissertation is written, it is more difficult to do this during a student’s defense.

    Like

  37. DrugMonkey Says:

    anonymous @36-
    Technicians in my lab are completely capable of performing all of the duties related to publishing a paper as first author that I would ever require of a graduate student. Do they deserve a Ph.D. if they take me up on this and manage three of them?
    What is unique about the doctorate if it is not the dissertation process?
    Namnezia-
    Is the point of graduate training merely to secure a “good” postdoc? To feed the ever continuing chase for credentials (“first author of paper in Journal X of IF Y”) over the quality of what the person knows and can do scientifically? Are you that bad at describing a person as a scientist in your rec letter that you may as well not be involved at all, just rely on the person’s CV to carry the day?

    Like

  38. neuromusic Says:

    from GMP’s original post:

    I was quite peeved when I realized that this student would graduate with zero papers (btw, I only got to see the dissertation on Friday and it wasn’t clear till today what the publication count was). This also means that, after 3 years on the project where my colleague the advisor has been the PI, there are no experimental papers, only theory ones. That cannot bode well for the project’s funding continuation.

    So, apparently, the student does have publications (on theory), but not on their experimental work.
    So even if there was a policy that publications were required, the student would have met that policy and GMP would still not be happy.

    Like

  39. Sven DiMilo Says:

    Weird discussion. Clearly writing up the research in publishable form is a critical part of the scientific process and therefore is a required part of graduate training. However, that’s not necessarily the same thing as getting the written-up research actually published.
    I (and many–many!–in my field) require a minimum of three manuscript-equivalent chapters (of original primary research) for a doctoral dissertation. In some cases, the nature and timing of the project allows a student to complete one or two and get it/them in the publishing pipeline while finishing the rest, sometimes not. In the latter case, I see no reason why ‘training’ has to end with graduation, and I’m happy to help former students through the submitting and dealing-with-reviews processes.
    Making somebody stick around for a full year after all (= enough) data have been gathered and analyzed solely to rack up an Official Pre-doctoral Pub seems to me absolutely ludicrous, even weirdly sadistic.

    one was from your rotation where Asst Prof Yun Gun needed a first author to establish senior author status- she actually wrote it.

    that made my stomach hurt.

    Like

  40. GMP Says:

    neuromusic, the theory work was done by a completely different student, advised by other PI’s but funded on the same government-funded multi-PI project. Please read the entire post.

    Like

  41. Mu Says:

    Students should not be awarded “default” PhD’s if they cannot even produce enough data to write a single paper in their field.
    I wonder what the guys who came up with the first concepts for the detectors at the LHC were supposed to do, 15 years later and still no published data.

    Like

  42. neuromusic Says:

    GMP, I did read the whole post, but apparently didn’t read that quote correctly. I stand corrected.

    Like

  43. Anna Says:

    What?! What she’s saying is totally reasonable even in my field (not phsy sciences).
    One journal article (not even necessarily done, just submitted) is not icing. It is in my mind a minimum for honoring someone with a PhD. Without that, I don’t know if you can finish the deal. Work is not done until it’s communicated to the community. In this case, that means journal papers. Work is not done!

    Like

  44. Anna Says:

    And shame on your DM. It’s her blog. Don’t read it if you don’t like it. you used to stink less of testosterone compared with that drunk partner of yours but you’re really sinking low with your ugly and unnecessary language.
    Run out of your own “careerism” material that you need to pick on other people?!

    Like

  45. Namnezia Says:

    DM – no, its not the only purpose, but it is an important one. The quality of what a person can do scientifically is reflected in the quality of their publications (though not necessarily on the quality of the journals). Are you really saying here that it is not incredibly important to teach students how to publish papers? Really?

    Like

  46. DrugMonkey Says:

    When did I say it wasn’t important, Namnezia?

    Like

  47. GMP Says:

    Blogger’s dead this afternoon, so let me muse a bit in your comments. It seems people agree that a PhD dissertation should contain publication quality material, but disagree on whether papers need to be published or even submitted prior to defending.
    In my experience, once students graduate, it becomes exceedingly difficult to work with them on papers. I think we are in agreement here, as per your post from a couple of months ago. This is where differences between fields become quite pronounced — in fields, such as mine, where many students go into industry or have various nonacademic options, chances of a student going MIA after graduation are very high, and papers that were never submitted prior to the defense often end up never published; it’s not just writing up the paper, which the PI can do themselves, but often the issue of performing additional measurements, repeating problematic ones,completing the story and overall ironing out the kinks that often don’t become apparent until it’s time to write the manuscript for peer review. This is an additional aspect that makes it important to have papers at least submitted before the student leaves, because it is important for everyone involved that the work ultimately be published in peer reviewed literature.
    A typical student’s motivation to publish after leaving is likely higher in fields where postdocs are the norm. Still, even a motivated student may have lots on his/her plate as a postdoc to get all the PhD papers out, plus not everything can be done remotely.

    Like

  48. dsks Says:

    Namnezia
    “At least in my field, the grilling by the external reviewer +committee following defense rarely lasts more than an hour and is mostly a rubber stamp. As GMP pointed out it is difficult to object to a PhD once a dissertation is written, it is more difficult to do this during a student’s defense.”
    I’ve heard this said about the US system, and if it is true it’s a flaw. The UK system lacks a thesis committee, which is flaw in that examination process, imho, but the viva is brutally thorough because it, along with a well-presented thesis that demonstrates writing proficiency, is considered to be the critical determinant of a candidate’s qualification.
    I do wonder, though, whether the accusation of laxness in the US system can really be fairly aimed at the institutional rules as opposed to individual faculty members being too afraid to express their true feelings on a candidate’s qualifications and invite a possible conflict with colleagues.
    If this were to be the case, then arguably we’re asking the wrong question, here. Whether a publication is a necessity for qualifying a PhD would appear to be of less importance than how a flaccid PhD-carrying professor, eager to put politeness and expedience above their professional responsibility, should ever have been allowed within spitting distance of a tenured faculty position.
    The competence issue, it appears, lies as much with the gate keepers as the poor buggers standing on the threshold.

    Like

  49. Canadian Brain Says:

    Hmm… This conversation has got extremely intense (a bit harsh on the original language front DM, but i see you’ve toned it down in the comments…) but informative. I think the we’ve all heard the Larry Summers quote “There are idiots. Look around” and its true for every field, even people with doctorates… I think everyone remembers a dood from their grad school who was clearly incapable of accomplishing anything, but still got the PhD.
    I’m curious if the PIs in the comments (DM,PP,GMP, Namn, etc) would give an example of the very WORST PhD student they produced and justify their graduation despite some “perceived failures”.This would be… illuminating.

    Like

  50. Anonymous Says:

    In her blog GMP (and namnezia) claim blog that publishing a journal paper is a requirement in the sciences for a PhD. I treked over to the library to pull out actual data and see if her claim holds. Here’s the data:
    % of PhDs with at least one publication
    Field 1985 1990 1995
    Analytical Chemistry 63% 71% 69%
    Experimental Psychology 41% 37% 40%
    American literature 25% 19% 30%
    Source: W. M. Lee, Publication Trends of Doctoral Students in Three Fields from 1965–1995, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE. 51(2):139–144, 2000
    [DOI – DM]
    Somewhat older data:
    Field % with at least one publication
    Botany 88%
    Chem Eng 86.6%
    Chemistry 77%
    Psych 48.6%
    Source: C.J. Boyer, The Doctoral Dissertation as an Information Source. Scarecrow Press, 1973.
    Other sources:
    Sanders and Wong. Gender diffrences in the Attainment of Doctorates. Sociological Perspectives, vol. 26, no. 1, 1983, pp. 29-50.
    Nettles and Millet. Three Magic Letters: Getting to PhD. John Hopkins University Press, 2006.

    Like

  51. Anonymous Says:

    In her blog GMP (and namnezia) claim that publishing a journal paper is a requirement in the sciences. I treked over to the library to pull out actual data and see if her claim holds. The data does not support her assertion:
    % of PhDs with at least one publication
    Field 1985 1990 1995
    Analytical Chemistry 63% 71% 69%
    Experimental Psychology 41% 37% 40%
    American literature 25% 19% 30%
    Source: W. M. Lee, Publication Trends of Doctoral Students in Three Fields from 1965–1995, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE. 51(2):139–144, 2000
    Somewhat older data:
    Field % with at least one publication
    Botany 88%
    Chem Eng 86.6%
    Chemistry 77%
    Psych 48.6%
    Source: C.J. Boyer, The Doctoral Dissertation as an Information Source. Scarecrow Press, 1973.
    Other sources:
    Sanders and Wong. Gender diffrences in the Attainment of Doctorates. Sociological Perspectives, vol. 26, no. 1, 1983, pp. 29-50.
    Nettles and Millet. Three Magic Letters: Getting to PhD. John Hopkins University Press, 2006.

    Like

  52. AcademicLurker Says:

    Overheard in a conversation between 2 Mathematics professors back when AcademicLurker was in graduate school:
    “I don’t mind writing his thesis for him but I really resent having to explain it to him.”

    Like

  53. GMP Says:

    Anon @ 51, thanks for doing the leg work and digging up the references. While the references are a bit long in the tooth (not sure if any data you showed came from your 2006 reference), I would not say the data presented invalidates the claim that publications are the norm in the sciences.
    Namnezia is in the life sciences, I am in the physical.
    I can’t speak for him, but the closest matches to my field would probably be Chem Eng (86.6% of PhDs with at least one paper in 1973) and Chemistry (77% in 1973) and Analytical Chemistry (about 70% in the 80′ to mid-90’s). I’d say all these data present a strong indication that publications before a PhD are expected (even though the 1973 reference is as old as I am and I think the pressure to publish has increased in recent decades).
    Canadian Brain, I haven’t graduated a humongous number of students yet, but the lowest number of papers I let the student defend with was 2+1 journal papers (2 published and 1 submitted) before defending. The highest paper count among my graduated students so far was 7+1 journal papers (7 published and 1 submitted) after a PhD duration of 4.5 years. This student got the best dissertation award.

    Like

  54. BikeMonkey Says:

    I’m curious if the PIs in the comments (DM,PP,GMP, Namn, etc) would give an example of the very WORST PhD student they produced and justify their graduation despite some “perceived failures”.
    I can give an answer. Myself. Hands down.
    Justification? I suppose if managing to publish and acquiring NIH funding at later stages, despite dismal graduate school performance, is justification then I haz it.

    Like

  55. Anonymous Says:

    This is Anon 51.
    I’d say all these data present a strong indication that publications before a PhD are expected
    They are indeed expected, they are not required. This is a fine distinction that many here and @GMP seem to have a hard time making, in spite of DM’s efforts to highlight this.
    For example, in my institution dissertations are expected to be in English, however due to some historical traditions it turns out that you can submit your thesis in French, if you wish. I am not aware of a single instance of this taking place, but according to the rules one could not fail someone for simply writing the thesis in French.
    Same goes for publications. It is expected that you have at least one publication, and if you don’t you certainly have some ‘splainin to do, but it is not an automatic failure like GMP incorrectly tried to argue. My figures do show that.

    Like

  56. GMP Says:

    but it is not an automatic failure like GMP incorrectly tried to argue.
    I never argued it’s automatic failure (the student in question passed, didn’t he?) but yes there is some serious ‘splainin’ to do. I did not find the explanation given in this particular student’s case very convincing, nor do I think his advisor did his job as he should have. If 80% or so of people in a field defend with at least one publication, then the reasons for not doing so better be really good.

    Like

  57. DrugMonkey Says:

    HAHAHA, oh just ADMIT it GMP. You were wrong and someone found an actual study with data (as recently as 1995) to show that.
    20% is still a boatload of people without a single pub.
    Now that we have that out of the way. What *would* you consider to be “really good” reasons? I mean, we know that the opinion of the PI and the fact the dude has a place to be don’t hold water with you. So what does?

    Like

  58. DrugMonkey Says:

    I’ve heard this said about the US system, and if it is true it’s a flaw. The UK system lacks a thesis committee, which is flaw in that examination process, imho, but the viva is brutally thorough because it, along with a well-presented thesis that demonstrates writing proficiency, is considered to be the critical determinant of a candidate’s qualification.
    While we have lots of fun bashing various doctoral training systems, the funny part is that none of this seems to matter jacksquatte when it comes to later postdoc and early faculty performance. Individual variability in talent (and no doubt the course charted as a postdoc) trumps the particulars of the doctoral training, imnsho.

    Like

  59. GMP Says:

    20% is still a boatload of people without a single pub.
    What, we should all go with the lowest common denominator now? I am sorry, but if 80% of people in a field get a publication before the PhD, I would call those field norms. And I wonder how these percentages bode versus quality of institution; I really find it hard to believe that they hold for big R1’s in this day and age.
    What *would* you consider to be “really good” reasons? I mean, we know that the opinion of the PI and the fact the dude has a place to be don’t hold water with you. So what does?
    Honestly, the reason “I miss my wife and have a job waiting” given as the student’s reason for early graduation without doing what was promised in the prospectus is no better than the PI saying “I just want to get rid of this piece of shit student, he’s a waste of time and money”. I personally think both of them are unacceptable as reasons to graduate a student with a PhD. No, actually, I cannot think of a a good reason where the student has done publication quality work (which everyone seems to agree on is necessary) and written up a dissertation but has failed to at least submit one paper for publication. I can think of two reasons in which dissertation without a paper happens, and neither is good: (a) the work is good but the student doesn’t care about papers; in this case the PI should care that he’s produced zero papers after 3 very expensive years on a federal grant and should push for a draft or (b) the dissertation does not in fact contain publication quality work, in which case the student should not defend.

    Like

  60. Todd Hargrave Says:

    This argument is getting ridiculous. I have a suspicion there’s some personal feather ruffling going on. Perhaps DM was a not very brilliant grad student and is taking this too personally. I have to agree with GMP and my field is neuroscience. In my institution I know many students who spent time setting up time-consuming experiments, training animals. We would not encourage a student to spend many years in grad school and graduate without even a submitted paper. There may be extenuating circumstances – but to me those are things like serious equipment failure, death of advisor, serious illness and so on (all happened to people I know and they were still able to publish btw), but not missing your wife. Surely the student could’ve stayed on for a few more months to finish some experiments. It does sound like something weird was going on here especially with the quick & dirty defense.
    I did not read the cited paper above, but DM the data support GMP if anything. If 70% of *all* phds in her field have at least one paper (published, not just drafted) at graduation time, it doesn’t sound unusual that the “norm” in her field and department would be to have at least one paper given she in an R1 program.

    Like

  61. foobar Says:

    >My point is that there are very good reasons not to have hard and fast rules regarding the qualifications for a Ph.D. and to leave it up to the professional opinion of a committee of faculty…
    And we wonder why we have a glut of graduates from mediocre doctoral programs that can’t find jobs?
    Diploma mills don’t have any onerous rules either!

    Like

  62. Anonymous Says:

    70% of *all* phds in her field have at least one paper (published, not just drafted)
    No. The data I quoted doesn’t not say “published, not just drafted”. In fact it means number of papers out of the PhD research measured five years after completion.
    Also GMP did not claim “at least one paper is standard in R1 universities”. She claimed that it was a requirement in the sciences, across all institutions and fields.
    I think we all agree that publishing at least one paper is desirable and rather common. There is no argument there.
    The question is how strongly can you word the sentence above, and I’m sorry to say the data does not support GMP’s choice.

    Like

  63. Todd Hargrave Says:

    Anon 4:51. Thanks for explaining.
    I am not sure you read GMP’s post. Clearly it’s not a *requirement* as the student passed the defense! She says so herself.
    I still don’t see how this goes against GMP’s point.
    Universities don’t specify requirements about the contents of the dissertation precisely because they trust advisors and committees to decide what counts as enough work for a PhD. GMP’s post is about this advisor not doing what is expected in their field. Not about what the requirements should be. This whole post is a tangent – which I find entertaining to read because it really is shocking to me that there can be disagreement about this. The paper you provided still supports GMP’s point, not the opposite.
    Anyway I’m not going to argue about this more when clearly people are talking about different things here. The point of the original post is clear. Go read it.

    Like

  64. Anonymous Says:

    The point of the original post is clear. Go read it.
    I have, now you go and read the followups from GMP in her blog. She over-reached in some of those, hence the comments from DM and myself.

    Like

  65. GMP Says:

    Also GMP did not claim “at least one paper is standard in R1 universities”. She claimed that it was a requirement in the sciences, across all institutions and fields
    The question is how strongly can you word the sentence above, and I’m sorry to say the data does not support GMP’s choice
    So all this is now about word choice? Expected versus required? So what data would support the word “required”? 100% of all PhD’s having prior publications in all scientific fields known to mankind across all institutions no matter how great/crappy? Gimme a break. If for you 80% does not indicate field norms, then we have little left to discuss.
    As Todd says above, we are very far from the original post — me having issues with the norms of my field not being met at a defense in my department. I think I am done beating this dead horse.

    Like

  66. Bactman Says:

    I have to weigh in with GMP here.
    I am in biosciences, and I tell students from the outset that I will not sign their dissertation if there are no first author pubs.
    My rationale for that has more to do with what typically happens to no-paper students than anything else, I just disgree with graduation as a route to getting rid of a studnt you dont wnt to work with.
    BTW….Dont know what particular bug DM has up his/her behind about this, but the tone of the responses is disgraceful.

    Like

  67. Anonymous Says:

    I’m using the meaning of “required” from the dictionary:
    1 absolutely essential
    2 required by rule;
    If you want to redefine required to “what I do” (like Bactman) or “what is standard around here” (like namnezia) or “what 80% of the people do” (like GMP), then please warn us ahead of time of your meaning when making your arguments.
    Lastly, I think we agree on the main points: (1) at least one publication is standard, (2) a student without one should be challenged but not automatically failed, (3) some answers to that challenge are satisfactory while others may not be and (4) a non-negligible number of thesis do not have publications.
    I’m signing out of this discussion.

    Like

  68. Peanut Says:

    Some rules in sci at my uni I’ve found by looking at different department websites and/or talking to profs in different departments:
    No formal requirements about publishing
    Informal requirement about publishing at least 1 paper
    Formal requirement for publishing at least 1 paper
    Formal requirement for submitting at least 1 paper
    Formal requirement for submitting at least 1 proposal for dissertation funding to national program or foundation
    Formal requirement for 1 successful dissertation funding proposal OR 1 published paper

    Like

  69. Mac Says:

    I wonder why the assumption is that if the paper isn’t out yet it never will be. I had one paper in review from my PhD when I finished – that’s it – because the way my work was I needed all the pieces together to write any of them well. In the next couple years after finishing I published 9 first author papers from my dissertation (in a range of journals but several in top journals in my field) so I think it was a successful dissertation. It depends on the student but I really don’t see why they have to be out at the time of the defense. A plan for submitting them is good but actually out – lovely to have but really is it necessary?

    Like

  70. El Picador Says:

    Hell yes Mac! You are a disgrace to your Department because you had no pubs when you defended. How DARE they let you out?

    Like

  71. cds Says:

    In my field, which sounds very, very similar to GMPs, a student graduating without a Ph.D. would be extremely anomalous. It would be more unusual than the 70-80% data because not all departments are created equal in terms of research quality. This is anecdotal but the very few cases of theses with no corresponding publications *in print before graduation* seem to be associated with a high degree of advisor abuse. Partly, this is because the time from paper submission to acceptance is much shorter than in the biomedical sciences. I am extremely suspicious of the advisor in this instance; there was a clear dereliction of duty (assuming GMPs general field is like mine).
    Also, CNS publications hold absolutely no water. It is a mostly meaningless standard in my field and has more to do with one’s collaborators and the advisor’s ideas than anything a student is responsible for (this is not a hard and fast rule, obviously). I suspect a student with no publications from his/her graduate work and a reasonable number of publications from a postdoc or two would not come close to making a short list for a faculty job unless the discrepancy was addressed adequately in one of the recommendation letters. I can only conjecture because I have never seen a CV for a job applicant at the postdoctoral or faculty level without publications in print before they graduated.
    If GMPs field is like mine, a normal level of productivity would be 1 or more papers per year. I published 7 (in print before graduation) as a student which is not a small number but is not particularly impressive to people. This is for theorists; for experimentalists, one paper per year is reasonable.
    Finally, I am in a physics department. This is relevant because data aggregated among just graduates with physics Ph.D.s would not be adequate. Physics itself is balkanized into several different fields with their own standards. String theorists publish papers with authors in alphabetical order, if they bother publishing at all instead of just putting their papers on the arXiv. High energy experimentalists get to publish papers when the collaboration decides to publish them. I don’t see how data for, say, analytical chemistry is even relevant. Different subfields are evaluated differently. *This* is why graduate schools and even departments should not impose rigid standards, but it is also why someone on a thesis committee should feel free to do so themselves.
    For all intents in purposes, it seems like standards in different fields are sufficiently different that it might be interesting to actually compare notes. Just leave the judgement at home.

    Like

  72. Massimo Says:

    I am joining this discussion late, but I think there is some confusion regarding the word “requirement”, here. Each one is of course entitled to one’s opinion, including on subjects one knows next to nothing about, but whether publications are “required” to receive a PhD is not a matter of opinions — it’s either yes or no, and one can easily find out.
    Requirement is something that a prospective doctoral graduate must satisfy, or the degree will not be granted. Examples of requirements are passing the doctoral candidacy exam, or sometimes taking specific core courses, or receiving credit for a certain number of units of “doctoral dissertation”, and so on.
    Requirements are listed on the University bulletin (a legally binding document), and in departmental handbooks distributed to all entering students.
    If students feel that exceptions are in order, and/or that a particular requirement ought be waved in their case, they can (usually) submit a request to the graduate chair for consideration by the department. A decision to wave a requirement must in turn be justified be the department before the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
    So, if publishing a certain number of papers is a “requirement”, the University Bulletin must say so.
    I do not believe that there exists a single physics department in North America “requiring” publications in order for a student to graduate — surely none of the departments where I have been a graduate student, postdoc and faculty over the past 24 years, but hey, I might be wrong. I would be very curious as to how this “requirement” would be administered and enforced in practice.
    This, of course, is different from saying that it is common practice for PhD supervisory committees and advisors to regard publications as an important metric to assess a student’s progress toward graduation, as well as a student’s overall scientific maturity. I agree that most of us expect to see at least one respectable publication, would be hesitant in recommending that a supervised student graduate without a single one, and would probably be unimpressed with a postdoctoral applicant whose CV did not sport any. But that is no “requirement”.

    Like

  73. Ned Wicker Says:

    The entire system is broken from how much it costs to go to college to the grant system to the politicisation of all PHD programs. Dealing with academics is about the same as dealing with ten year old children. The system makes them so petty and short sighted that they end up torturing their PHD candidates for revenge.

    Like

  74. 0pubs Says:

    I’ll add something to the fray. How about your PI fucks you. Let’s take me, I had an established project, which looked to be getting me two if not three fairly high impact papers in a reasonable amount of time. Then one day my boss comes to me, and says, “I just need you to try to squeeze some pubs from these data from my other lab, I have a grant deadline”. Didn’t seem too unreasonable, until I realized she’s had no managerial oversight over this “other” lab of hers for the last 10 years, and might as well have put a bunch of retarded gibbons in charge of the data collection; my job is to help he save face. Now I’m being told I can’t pursue my original project until I produce something out of this giant turd!!! My committee has caught wind and will likely graduate me, independent of whether I get any pubs out of this. The pubs issue is a brewing storm as I now have serious reservations about the quality of the data. My only hope now is to stay on for another year as a pdoc and finish the original project. Of course i can’t say any of this to potential employers, since then I seem like a petty whining shit. bugger.

    Like

  75. DrugMonkey Says:

    “other lab” with “no managerial oversight”….say what now?

    Like

  76. 0pubs Says:

    She has two labs, one local, and one at another University. “Other” lab is only rarely visited, and as indicated run by retarded gibbons. She has somehow managed, inspite of almost no publications, to keep getting the R01 renewed funding “other” lab continuously.
    le sigh.

    Like


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