Publish or Perish

Updated: Apr 30

You love science and discovery. It’s really hard work, so you have to love it to stick with it. It is also, in many fields, extremely expensive. From specialized equipment and reagents to laboratory space and staff salaries, research would not be possible without external funding.


Publishing is critical. You want to share what you find to advance the knowledge in your field and spread excitement for what you study, yet you are always looking toward your next grant. Publication demonstrates your proficiency in research and documents your scientific contributions, while confirming that these contributions are endorsed by your peers. Your list of publications, particularly your most recent papers, helps convince funding agencies that you deserve some of the limited grant money they will award.


Scientists have intense pressure to publish. Publication is the primary currency of academic success, encouraging recognition and promotion in your field and at your institution. If there are no papers, there will be no grants. Without funding, there may be no way to continue your research. This can lead to a roadblock in promotion and career advancement or eventually, if pre-tenure, no job. Publish or perish.


Don’t let writing hold you back. The quantity and quality of your publications reflect your scientific contributions and directly affect your potential to secure future grants. And you must be competitive—your laboratory staff, your potential for career advancement, and maybe even your own job security depend on continued funding.


Good writing matters. It is not enough to do excellent science. You must showcase your brilliant study design, cutting edge methods, fascinating discoveries and insightful interpretation, all in a 2000-4000 word manuscript. Months (maybe years) and significant financial resources lead up to a single manuscript. So much has already gone into it and a lot is riding on successful publication.


You can “sell” your work through writing. Although no money changes hands, you are essentially pitching your paper to your peers for the chance at publication. Good writing can increase the impact of excellent research. Dense, dry and jargon-laden text can swallow an incredible discovery.


We (I too am guilty), as scientists, have been trained (or socialized)—perhaps by a lack of training—to make inherently engaging topics less interesting by the way we write. We are conditioned to think that a more readable style is less authoritative. Don’t let writing hold you back when it can be a selling point that highlights your work without compromising on objectivity, accuracy, and evidence-based interpretation—the foundation of credible, authoritative science.


Writing takes time. Your manuscript may be lost under a pile of other responsibilities: teaching, managing research projects, advising students and trainees, sitting on thesis committees … and I am sure your list could go on. Yet that paper is the essential culmination of a huge amount of time, the contributions of several people, and one of the keys to securing your next grant or academic promotion—you can’t afford to wait!


Professional editing by WriteScience, LLC provides customized options that match where you are in the writing process, including:

  • Editing and proofreading for your mature draft to increase readability and highlight your discovery

  • A jumpstart for your writing process by providing feedback on outlines or rough drafts

  • A sense of accountability—regular follow-up to keep your writing on track


Find out more at WriteScienceWell.com or email Loretta@writesciencewell.com. Let us help you share your discovery!


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