The psychology field averages five to seven years. New doctoral students in the fields of history or english can expect to spend eight years completing the degree. Some fields of study require a significantly longer degree process. For example, in the field of education, the current average is 13 years. Today's doctoral students have significantly more demands placed on them than ever before. Most students today are earning their degrees while raising a family and working full time. The first two to three years of the doctoral program will likely be spent taking required and elective classes.
Many of these courses have research components that can cause those courses to be time consuming. Students are often working a second job as a teaching assistant or research assistant during this phase of the program. Some fields of study, like teaching and psychology, can also require a residency or internship during the doctoral process. Following the coursework, students must then study for and pass a comprehensive examination.
This exam allows the faculty to ensure that the students have met all academic criteria needed to gain expertise in the field of study. This process can take several months to complete. Many scientists, editors and publishers have long acknowledged that journal name is a flawed measure of the quality and value of a piece of research — but the problem shows no signs of going away.
And the obsession with prestigious journals is just one source of delay — as Fraser, who was battling to publish her paper on ancient animal populations — was about to found out. By October , a full year had passed since Fraser had first submitted her paper to a journal, and she had pretty much stopped caring about impact factor.
By this point, the paper had spent two months in review at Proceedings of the Royal Society B , before coming back with mixed reports — and a rejection. So Fraser decided to try PLoS ONE , a journal that says it will publish any rigorous science, regardless of its significance, scope or anticipated citations. It has an impact factor of 3, and a reputation for rapid publication. Pioneer behind controversial PubPeer site reveals his identity. Two months later, Fraser got a decision letter that essentially stated that the paper was rejected but might be eligible for re-review if the suggested revisions were made.
She made the revisions, adding citations and a small amount of reanalysis. Another two months passed before she received the new review: major revisions, please.
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The paper 4 was published online 23 months after she had first sent it to Science. The long peer-review and revision process did improve the paper, Fraser says now. Last year, Chris Hartgerink, a behavioural-sciences graduate student at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, ran an analysis of the Public Library of Science PLOS family of journals since the first one launched in He chose the journals largely because they make the data easily accessible, and because he was waiting for a paper to be published in PLoS ONE.
He found that the mean review time had roughly doubled in the past decade, from 50— days to — days, depending on the journal see go. And when Royle looked at eight journals that had published cell-biology papers over the past decade, he found that publication times had lengthened at seven of them, mostly because review times had stretched out.
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Open access is tiring out peer reviewers. One contention is that peer reviewers now ask for more. When Ron Vale, a cell biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, analysed biology papers that had been published in Cell , Nature and the Journal of Cell Biology , in the first six months of and compared that with the same period in , he found that both the average number of authors and the number of panels in experimental figures rose by 2—4 fold 5.
This showed, he argued, that the amount of data required for a publication had gone up, and Vale suspects that much of the added data come from authors trying to meet reviewers' demands. Scientists grumble about overzealous critics who always seem to want more, or different, experiments to nail a point.
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His analysis of his group's publication times showed that almost 4 months of the average 9-month gestation was spent revising papers for resubmission. Many scientists also blame journal editors, who, they say, can be reluctant to provide clear guidance and decisions to authors when reviews are mixed — unnecessarily stringing out the review and revision process.
Journal heads disagree, and say that their editors are accomplished at handling mixed reviews. Cell editor-in-chief Emilie Marcus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says that editors at her journal take responsibility for publication decisions and help authors to map out a plan for revisions.
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Technological advances mean that research now involves handling more and more data, editors say, and there is greater emphasis on making that information available to the community. The image detective who roots out manuscript flaws. She acknowledges that PLoS ONE 's publication time has risen; one factor is that the volume of papers has, too — from in to 30, per year now — and it takes time to find and assign appropriate editors and reviewers.
PLOS used 76, reviewers in Another, says Kiermer, is that the number of essential checkpoints — including competing-interest disclosures, animal-welfare reports and screens for plagiarism — have increased in the past decade. Himmelstein found that the number of papers in PubMed more than doubled between and , reaching nearly 1 million articles.
Digital publishing may have had benefits in shortening 'production' time — the time from acceptance to publication — rather than time in review. In Himmelstein's analysis, time spent in production has halved since the early s, falling to a stable median of 25 days. Several new journals and online publishing platforms have promised to speed up the process even more.
PeerJ, a family of journals that launched in , is one of several that now encourage open peer review, in which reviewers' names and comments are posted alongside articles.
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The hope is that the transparency will prevent unnecessary delays or burdensome revision requests from reviewers. The biomedical and life-sciences journal eLife launched in with a pledge to make initial editorial decisions within a few days and to review papers quickly. Reviewers get strict instructions not to suggest the 'perfect experiment', and they can ask for extra analysis only if it can be completed within 2 months.
Otherwise, the paper is rejected. Randy Schekman, a cell biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and editor-in-chief of eLife , says that these policies mean that more than two-thirds of the journal's accepted papers undergo just one round of review. In a analysis, Himmelstein created a ranking by the median review time for all 3, journals that had papers with time stamps in the PubMed database from January to June see go. PeerJ had a relatively fast time: 74 days after submission. By comparison, Cell 's review time was days; Nature 's was days; PLoS Medicine took days; and Developmental Cell was among the slowest of the popular biomedical journals, at days.
Marcus notes that comparison between journals is difficult because the publications define received, revised and accepted days differently, and that Developmental Cell places a high priority on timely review. Open journals that piggyback on arXiv gather momentum. One way for biologists to accelerate publication is by embracing preprints. These allow work to quickly receive credit and critique, says Bruno Eckhardt, associate editor of Physical Review E and a theoretical physicist at the University of Marburg in Germany.
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A preprint submitted to bioRxiv — a server run by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York — is published online within 24 hours and given a digital object identifier DOI ; subsequent revisions are time-stamped and anyone can read and comment on the paper. Some universities and projects may also expect or even require you to present your work at conferences or publish some of it during your doctorate. For more information on what you can expect during your project, take a look at our introduction to PhD study.
In the UK, the PhD registration period for full-time students is normally As a largely independent research qualification, a doctorate is usually well-suited to more flexible modes of study. In some cases, it may even be possible to start on a part-time PhD and switch to full-time study or vice versa if your situation changes.
Most distance learning PhDs are also studied part-time and take around years.
This option is increasing in availability, but can be trickier to manage in some fields that require regular lab work or access to specialist facilities. As a long-distance PhD student, you can expect to communicate with your supervisor via email, Skype or other electronic means as well as potentially attend the institution of your study for a couple of weeks each year. In some cases, funding can also add extra elements to a PhD, and potentially increase its overall length. Alternatively, limitations set by your department or research group funding could urge you to finish your thesis in the 3-year period without additional extensions, while self-funded PhDs could greatly depend on your own resources.
These incorporate additional training projects, professional internships and other elements. Such elements may take place alongside your research, or specific time may be set aside for them. In some cases, students are only matched up with a supervisor at the end of the first year.
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Self-funding unsurprisingly is not restricted by funder deadlines and can be more flexible — particularly if you need to extend for writing up. Although self-funding can ease the stress surrounding a strict final deadline, it is important to keep in mind that resources for support can place pressure on completion of the project. In addition, universities also still tend to set a maximum registration period. Sometimes your registration period can also be tied to your PhD funding. Most studentships only last for a certain time even if your doctorate ends up taking longer and payments for a doctoral student loan will be based on the stated length of your project or programme.
If you have your eyes on doing research abroad, there are a few things you need to be aware of in terms of study length.
The year PhD model is typical for the UK and most of Europe, with some countries in Asia also adopting a similar system specific information on PhD studies in various countries can be found in our study abroad section.