Research and investigation
Introduction > Going Professional

Going Professional

Row of journals The success of any researcher is measured using several factors, including the number of research grants won and the number of papers published in peer-reviewed journals. If you produce a high quality piece of research you should consider publishing your work in a peer-reviewed journal or a dedicated undergraduate research e-journal.

However, it's important that you discuss publications with your supervisor, particularly to clarify where the intellectual property rights of the project lie. Questions to consider include:

  • did you develop the research question or did you have help?
  • does your research project stand alone or is it part of a larger project?

Some institutions have their own journals for publishing undergraduate research, such as Reinvention and the national journal Bioscience Horizons.  Publishing your research to share your findings with others is an extremely rewarding and important aspect of being a researcher. Not only that, having publications cited on your CV could potentially give you the leading edge over other graduates when you're applying for jobs or research positions.

If you submit your paper to a peer-reviewed journal, it will be thoroughly read by at least two people (called referees) who are experts in your area of research. Referees' comments are then sent to the journal editor, who will make the final decision on whether or not the paper is acceptable for publication in that journal. Submitting papers to journals can, however, be a lengthy process; for example it can sometimes take up to two years from the date of submission to the final publication of your work. In saying that, the benefits of publication, in terms of the skills you learn and the valuable addition it makes to your CV, definitely compensate for the time and effort you'll invest.

Papers submitted to dedicated undergraduate journals are also peer-reviewed. These journals are generally published once or twice a year and you usually find out quite quickly whether or not your paper has been accepted for publication.  The popularity of undergraduate journals is increasing and your university/department may have one that you can submit your work to.  The audience for these journals is, however, likely to be limited  in comparison to the mainstream scientific journals so your research may therefore reach a narrower readership.  Before you start writing a research paper for publication, however, there are several important aspects to consider.
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