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Library Research Support: Publication Planning

Support for Research Staff & Research Students

Publication Planning: Overview

This guide provides some considerations for authors, or those managing research project, when conceptualising and planning for what publications might arise from planned research activity;

  1. Aims and objective: The value of taking a step back and assessing what are the range of objectives you are expected, or hope to achieve from publication;
  2. Benefits of Planning: A summary of the some of the benefits for an author or research manager which may be achieved from even the most basic of publication plans;
  3. Format of publication plans: Some example publication plans and third party guidance which may help an author identify what approach might work best for them;
  4. Mentors and Supervisors: Responsiblities and expectations for those with supervisory or mentoring roles for other academic colleagues;

Publication Planning


This section provides guidance for new early career researchers, and those who supervise or mentor them, on thinking about how to plan for what publications may result from a research project.

It may also help prompt those who have been publishing for some time to revisit some of the considerations they may wish to account for when planning the potential outputs from a project they are managing or taking a lead role in supporting.


Why Publish?

It may seem obvious that publishing the results of academic research is a key expectation upon researchers, but the reasons for publishing your research may also impact upon any publication strategy or planning.

Core expectations of scholarly research
  • Reporting of primary research findings
  • Publication invites the critical review and feedback of peers, and is constructive in improving a researchers writing skills and experience of the scholarly publication process.

A pathway to generating research 'impact'
  • A publication (or publications) may be useful to form part of the evidence underpinning a REF Impact Case Study.
  • Publication and communication of research is one pathway to generating impact, be that the adoption of research outcomes in the development of social policy, professional practice or opportunities for commercialisation.

An individual researcher's career progression
  • Raising your academic profile and engaging with your network of peers.
  • Ensuring you have enough outputs for submission to the REF or other research evaluation exercises.
  • Expanding your CV - evidencing the quality of your research (and your productivity) to support promotion and employment applications.
  • A prior publication record is evidence of your individual, your collaborators' or your research group's track record of getting research published which might support new funding applications.

Legal and ethical obligations
  • Contractual agreements with any employer, funder or collaborator on your research, which may outline the what, where and when around publication (e.g. a contract may agree the publication of a monograph or report as an outcome of the research, or that outputs are published open access, or that publication is delayed until commercial protections are in place) whilst respecting the principle of academic freedom.
  • Whilst not always what an author prioritises for publication, codes of practice around research integrity often expect and encourage the publication of 'negative' results.
  • Appropriate publication which avoids fragmented or duplicate publications, but which recognises practice based on the discipline and nature of the research.
    • For example, multidisciplinary research projects might expect the publication of results separately in journals appropriate to each embedded discipline, and framed in a context appropriate to that discipline.


Why have a Publication Plan?

There are many reasons why having a publication plan is useful to you as a researcher and author.

Expectations of the University
  • If you are the Principal Investigator on a project, there is an expectation of Durham University's Research integrity policy placed upon you to "take overall responsibility for the project’s publication strategy." Durham University Research Integrity Policy and Code of Good Practice 10.2(i)
  • Because of the sensitivities authorship can present, all Durham authors are advised to raise the question of authorship and acknowledgement at an early stage, and to engage in open discussion with colleagues and collaborators, so as to avoid problems arising at a later date.
  • Where guidance or support might be required (e.g. peer review, guidance on open access requirements, funding to cover publication costs, help in identifying appropriate journals/publishers) it is beneficial this is identified in advance to ensure resource to provide that support can be provided.

REF and Impact Planning
  • There is an expectation that if you are eligible for inclusion in the REF submission, you will have authored sufficient outputs to be included in the submission.
  • They need to meet any requirements set by Research England (including, for example, requirements around author contribution and the REF Open Access policy)
  • You need to be aware of any strategy, and collective responsibility for a submission across your REF Unit of Assessment
  • You need to ensure your key research findings are submitted for publication in reasonable time for it to enter the public domain during the current REF census period, if it is planned to be included in the current REF submission.
  • A publication plan can help identify pathways (and timescales) to maximise the potential impact of research.

Good practice in support of any discussions around authorship in multi-authored papers
  • Identification of co-authors can help share the burden, and increase productivity for larger projects.
  • If involving internal co-authorship, rotation of lead author (within the bounds of research integrity) across publications to ensure, for example, all researchers on a project can provide sufficient publications for the Unit of Assessment's REF submission or gain sufficient experience of the publication process.
  • Supporting all researchers on a project, from the senior academic to the early career researcher.

Personal objectives

A clearly articulated publication plan can:

  • help balance an author's personal research interests against the demands of a departments research strategy.
  • better enable you to manage your time over long periods with clearly identified objectives.
  • feed into institutional processes such as the annual development review or REF preparation activities.


What form should a publication plan take?

You should consult with your department as to any guidance provided, or expectations on formulating a publication strategy. This will help:

  • Identify available support structures relevant to your discipline.
  • Enable a discussion to ensure any personal objectives complement or build towards shared local strategies and objectives.

As a basic guide, a publication strategy should cover multiple planned objectives, over several years (e.g. to cover all intended research outputs which might contribute to the next REF submission).

Resources and Support available

Some of the resources below may be useful in helping you formulate and record your publication strategy.



Guidance for Supervisors and Mentors

Those in supervisory or mentoring roles may find the summaries below useful in identifying what their supervisees and mentees might expect of them:

  • From the University Learning and Teaching Handbook (8.5.2: Responsibilities of the Supervisory Team)
    • "encouraging the student where possible and appropriate, to gain experience necessary for an academic career, such as teaching, publication and conference participation"
    • "helping the student interact with other researchers by making him or her aware of other research work in the School and University, and by encouraging attendance at conferences. Support the student in seeking funding. Where appropriate supervisors should advise on the submission of conference papers and article to referred journals. Supervisors should obtain the agreement of the student for any publication of work contained in the thesis and the inclusion of the student as co-author"
  • From the University Learning and Teaching Handbook (8.6.7: Including Published Works within Research Degree Theses)
    • "Key principles... [3](a) publication during a candidature is a positive, and should be encouraged;"
  • From Mentoring Guidance pages
    • "For an early-career researcher (for example University Research Fellow, Roberts Fellow, lecturer), mentoring is likely to be directed towards establishing the individual's research by: … Reading and commenting on draft papers for publication and offering advice and guidance on suitable journals in which to publish”
    • "Many aspects of mentoring will depend on the particular Department and the area of research of the new staff member. However, typical aspects might include: … advising on their publication strategy and suitable outlets for research outputs"

Post-acceptance checklist

Once you have had a publication accepted for publication, you may also want to make sure you have planned for how best to disseminate that research to as broad (and as appropriate) audience as possible.

Check out our post-acceptance checklist for some suggestions of activities you may wish to build in to your publication planning.

Post-publication checklist

Where to Publish?

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