funny cartoon scientistHow can you tell the difference between a university lecturer and a professor? It’s not qualifications – sometimes lecturers have more letters after their names than the professors who head up their departments. Is it age? Nope. Sometimes professors are younger than their lecturer colleagues. One of the most common differences between a professor and a lecturer is simply the fact that the professor has more “publications” to their name. They have authored more research papers, written more opinion pieces in journals and have contributed more to the academic literature. It is not just your qualifications that help you become a professor; it is the weight of the pile of paper with your byline on it.

Academic success is measured, in part, by how much literature there is in your name. It is a pure measure of quantity. The more papers you have published, the more impressive you are within the community. People weigh your experience by the pound.

Now, new research shows how those professors get to the top. It turns out that the most successful scientists, the ones that make it to the top of the academic tree are the ones that start publishing young and relentlessly keep on publishing, churning out paper after paper after paper.

It is a demonstration that the amount you write is part of the route to success. True, these academics have got to know their stuff. True, they have got to impress their colleagues with the analytical thinking they have. But there are plenty of academics who fulfil those requirements who do not make it to the top – and now it seems that this is because they simply do not write enough.

You can equate what is happening in the academic world with what is happening online. The most successful websites in any sector are the ones where content is added relentlessly. Publishing lots equals success online, just as it does in academic circles.

Take a tip from those young academic scientists; get the writing bug. Write, write some more and write some more again. That might not make you a professor, but it will be a significant contribution to success in your sector, because it seems that we do equate the amount someone publishes with their expertise in their sector. If you want people in your world to believe you are the expert, you need to publish lots and lots and lots. Or as they say today, you need to do some “content marketing”.

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