By Kelsie

I recently crossed the 3 ½ year mark of my PhD, went off scholarship, switched to part-time, got a casual admin job, didn’t get into a graduate program, bought a bunch of IKEA furniture and received reviews for a paper. It’s fair to say that I’m giving a lot of mixed messages about my PhD status.

I’m currently writing this blog post in between writing a second paper and editing the reviews from co-authors in response to reviews from external reviewers for the first paper, which is due for re-submission next week (that was a fun sentence to write…also…AHHHHHH!!!).


I have found that the final stretch of my PhD is nothing like I imagined it. I thought it would be a lot more like my honours year where I had a definite deadline and a mad rush to submission. This is not the case. I have decided to try and submit my PhD by publication which requires having a certain amount of published/in press/accepted manuscripts. For the research school of earth sciences here at ANU, at least 3 published/in press/accepted papers are required but this varies across colleges. Each paper can take a year or more to write, submit, review, respond to reviews, resubmit and (hopefully) publish. Again this varies with the journal and the topic (I’ve heard some papers that get reviewed and published within a couple of months!). So why go to all this trouble?


Originally I decided to write up my PhD this way because I thought I would have very clear, well contained and easy to write up results that would lend themselves to papers. This has not really been the case. I also thought it would help me to get a job or further research opportunities after my PhD. Unfortunately I am not sure if I want to stay in academia and so having a bunch of papers isn’t necessarily beneficial. One final definite bonus that I recently learnt is that if you do manage to submit a PhD by publication then your PhD reviewers cannot ask you to change any of the papers within it (Hooray no revisions!). This means that the PhD revision process can be more stream lined/less arduous (sometimes PhD reviewing can take 6 months or more!).

I like that PhD’s by publication are slimmer, more direct and it seems more likely that they will be read. There is a lot of writing, rewriting, re-rewriting and re-re-re-writing ahead but I am optimistic/determined.


If nothing else I will learn a lot about the publication process and hopefully become a better writer, researcher and person because of it (fingers crossed). That doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating and soul destroying so I’m going to keep up with the good stuff; meeting friends for coffee, putting together furniture from IKEA and taking time to walk around Floriade.

Floriade: Canberra’s celebration of Spring and the hay fever that accompanies it. Image from:

For anyone at a similar PhD point to me (whether you are going for a traditional thesis or a thesis by publication) or anyone who is writing up a paper good luck and well wishes. Hopefully we will finish and submit soon but until then….


For more info about PhD by publication: ANU policy for submitting a PhD by publication.

ANU Writing and Research support: Research skills and training, Academic skills and Learning Centre.