Number of Research Papers Published per Year
Although the number of research papers published per year is a hot topic among today’s academics and scientists, there is no magic number that can be called right for every researcher across all disciplines. One published paper per year may constitute an excellent output in some arts and humanities fields, while ten publications a year would be below average in certain biological and medical sciences. What is constant, however, is the idea that quality should trump quantity, so the ideal number of papers per year is the number that can be published without compromising research quality.
The problem is, of course, that producing high-quality research papers that peer-reviewed journals will be pleased to publish takes a great deal of time – a commodity that is too often in short supply when working to achieve immediate career goals. It will always be important to publish the number of research papers required to earn a teaching position, a university degree, institutional resources or research funding. After all, even academics and scientists daily sustained by the intellectual nutrition of their research activities need to eat, and most research projects grind to a halt without the support that producing a large number of published papers per year can inspire. It is also important to remember, however, that those papers are most likely to earn you recognition and support if they are of a high quality and contribute in meaningful ways to knowledge and practice in your field. The key, then, is to maximise both the quality and the quantity of the research papers that you publish each year.
Maximising the Quality and Number of Research Papers Published per Year
The most common and successful means scholars use to increase the number of research papers they publish each year without compromising quality is professional collaboration. Collaborating with colleagues both within your own field of study and beyond it can bring a host of valuable benefits that might include the ability to conduct unique multidisciplinary research across borders or the provision of the best research facilities, equipment and funding available. Collaboration also means many capable hands and talented minds to do the research, analysis and writing required to produce high-quality articles in a timely fashion. For example, if one among you is especially adept at language and writing, he or she could take on the primary responsibility for drafting and editing the paper, ensuring that the best possible manuscript lands on the journal editor’s desk. If, on the other hand, the previous work of one or more of the members of your research team has already been published in a prestigious or high-impact journal, the co-authored manuscripts that emerge from the project will almost certainly stand a better chance of serious consideration and acceptance – an effect that could also mean positive editorial reception of the individually authored papers of group members, even papers reporting the results of different research projects.
Although collaborating on papers to earn co-authorship is an excellent way of increasing the number of research papers published per year, and all the better if your name appears first or last in the list of authors, those papers for which you are the sole author are the most desirable kind of publications, whether you are a postdoctoral researcher or a full professor. In these publications readers will encounter your voice and your work most directly, and for some positions, promotions and grants, individually authored papers published in peer-reviewed journals are required. It is an interesting fact that the total number of papers published by early-career researchers has increased in recent decades, but primarily through collaboration since the number of sole-authored papers each of those researchers publishes has decreased. This means that the papers you write by yourself will stand out all the more, but they will also require considerable time and effort if quality is to be maintained. Efficiency is therefore necessary in every aspect of the process, from recording and analysing results immediately to drafting a paper with the journal guidelines by your side to save time.
It is highly likely that you will feel overwhelmed at least occasionally as you work to maximise the number of research papers you publish per year, and you may even be tempted to slice up the material you would like to include in one great research article in order to produce two or more satisfactory ones simply to increase your publication count. If this happens, try to remember that the ideal is about much more than numbers, and one exceptional paper published in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal can achieve a larger audience and have a far greater impact on your career as well as the research and lives of others than a few hastily published mediocre papers ever could.