In the United States, PhD programs are 5-7 years long. Although programs expect students to finish in 5 years, most do not. Before starting my program, I thought I would begin publishing articles at the start of my third year. For two years in a row, I’ve vowed to submit my work to an academic journal. Yet despite what hiring committees might claim about the importance of publishing in graduate school, PhD programs privilege coursework over publications and grants – at least in the humanities.
Don’t get me wrong. There are steps I could have taken to get this article written. I could have scrolled less, managed my time better, and woken up earlier. There are certainly students who have published by the end of their third year. However, I would like to bring attention to the hefty work load students assume in the first 2 to 3 years of their programs. This semester, I have a lighter workload than usual because I am studying at the University of Geneva, where students complete 1, maybe 2, assessments for each course and read one book per course per semester. Yet, my colleagues back at my home university are required to read hundreds of pages per week, teach beginning language courses, and grade numerous assignments. Where can they find the time to write presentations, book chapters, and/or articles?
If national conferences, single-author papers, book chapters, and grants are the current metrics of academic success, why don’t graduate programs prioritize these tasks ? Why don’t professors encourage their students to work on a single piece all semester, rather than in the final three weeks of class? I am convinced that a course dedicated to academic publishing would give students the time and resources to prepare a piece for publication. Besides, I’ve learned more from the act of writing research papers than from reading a series of semi-related books for a course.
As I enter 2020, I know that my resolution will once again be the submission of a paper for publication. I really need to set aside time every week for important task. But I also have a PhD exam at the end of the spring semester covering 70+ texts as well as final exams for the courses I’m taking in Geneva. Here’s to 2020!