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Short Communication

Publish or perish: strategies to help rural early career researchers increase publication output

Submitted: 14 October 2013
Revised: 12 February 2014
Accepted: 10 March 2014
Published: 24 September 2014

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Author(s) : Johnston J, Wilson S, Rix E, Pit SW.

Shawn WilsonElizabeth RixSabrina Pit

Citation: Johnston J, Wilson S, Rix E, Pit SW.  Publish or perish: strategies to help rural early career researchers increase publication output. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2014; 14: 2870. Available: (Accessed 19 October 2017)


Introduction:  Researchers are challenged to publish or perish. A range of barriers to writing can result in sub-optimal productivity, particularly for early career researchers. Researchers in rural areas may face additional challenges of distance and limited access to colleagues. Implementing strategies to address some of these obstacles was identified as a priority for a group of early career, rural researchers.
Methods:  In late 2010, the Wiljo-Piri Writing Group was established, embarking on fortnightly lunch-time meetings for support, networking and the public setting of writing goals; and arranging pairing of ‘writing buddies’ committed to writing daily, with contact before and/or after each writing session to provide motivation and accountability. Key measures for improvement were publication output (publications per person per year (PPY)) and perceptions of effectiveness of strategies.
Results:  Publication output varied between individuals and over time; overall PPY rates improved from 0.5 to 1.25. ‘Buddy writing’ helped facilitate adherence to routine writing sessions and was associated with perceptions of increased creativity, efficiency, confidence and ability to focus.
Conclusions:  Structured peer support can be a powerful tool to create and maintain regular writing practices and increase publication output. ‘Buddy writing’ is applicable to any research or academic setting, and helps maintain commitment to daily writing sessions. Furthermore, such interventions can provide peer support for those working in rural settings, helping to address issues such as geographical and professional isolation. Suggested key steps in establishing structured peer support are provided.

Key words: peer support, publications, publish or perish, research support, writing group.

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