Publish or Perish? - Not for the Phoenix Graduate

Publish or Perish? - Not for the Phoenix Graduate

Publish or Perishis a term which was coined in 1932 by Coolidge. Publication was considered the powerful way for scholars to demonstrate competency, as well as add to the credibility of an institution. Researchers argue the pressure to publish has diminished the quality of research and only 45% of articles are cited within the first five years of publication Rawat & Meena, 2014).

Individuals choose to earn a doctoral degree for various reasons, such as personal satisfaction, career advancement, and monetary success. Acquiring the doctoral degree provides access for participation in dialogues within academic institutions, societal issues, and professional organizations. Contributions to the dialogue can occur through multiple forms of scholarship such as presenting in conferences, publishing, or leading change. 

Most doctoral degree programs emphasize leadership to effect change. Transformational leadership can initiate a shift in thinking to support change. Steward leadership may support the need to serve. Transactional leadership can support the give and take required for negotiations. Authentic leadership is gaining acceptance as a leadership style as charisma was identified as not lasting through long-term leadership opportunities. Earning a doctoral degree is an opportunity to lead change and give back.

Obstacles and opportunities to scholarship are anticipated beyond the commencement period. The publish or perish issue is a well-known phenomenon within the world of academia in regard to enhancing and maintaining careers in academia. Quan and Borus (2017) recognize the skills needed to navigate the scholarship of publishing may not be taught in school programs and recommend scholars gain access to a toolkit of strategies to support individual scholarship.

Efforts to publish in scholarly journals are well documented. Multiple strategies to earn a position as an author in scholarly journals has resulted in some favoritism or closed opportunities for some doctoral degree graduates. von Solms and von Solms (2016) argue academics should be involved in multiple aspects of research and planning can result in successful results. Individual who may be active in research may not be successful in disseminating of their effort, time, and work on scholarship. 

In addition to external factors which provide obstacles and opportunity for academic scholarship. The mindset of the scholar will impact the individual or collective contribution to the field of study (Tyler & Lombardozzi (2017). Tyler and Lombardozzi promote amalgamating the beliefs and choices of the scholar into a mindset or philosophy to achieve success.

Intrinsic factors may interfere with recognizing or seizing opportunities to create or develop potential scholarship. Collaborative and collective approaches can counteract obstacles and combat the scarcity in scholarship.

The connection of leadership and scholarship is evident through intersecting Boyer’s model of scholarship with the Leadership Practice Inventory.  Scholars can work smart by staying attuned to the emerging dynamics within their current environment. Aligning seminal and contemporary research to environmental concerns, issues, and needs allows scholars to develop the know-how to create underpinnings for organizations and society.  Aware of conversations, tensions, and shifts within an environment, the scholar instinctively designs approaches and responses accessing the experience of research. These are habits of mind which allow doctoral degree graduates to recognize and make appropriate choices to building scholarship from personal and professional experiences




Quan, S. F. & Borus, J. F. (2017). Publish or perish:  Tools for survival. Southwest Journal ofPulmonary and Critical Care, 14(2).

Rawat, S. & Meena, S. (2014). Publish or perish:  Where are we heading? Journal of Research in Medical Science, 19(2), 87-89. Retrieved from

von Solms, R, von Solms, B. (2016). Publish or perish - but where? South African Computer Journal, 28(1), 44-58.




About the Author

Imani Akin, Ed.D.



Journal of Leadership Studies-Symposium Piece-Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education

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