Clinical psychology research productivity is an issue of great professional concern. The current paper explores the rate and nature of trainee publication of research projects in peer-reviewed journals, together with reasons likely to be relevant to its success and failure. Twenty-one out of 28 courses responded to a survey composed of closed and open-ended questions. Data were analysed using inferential statistics and content analysis. Twenty-four percent of trainees in any one cohort during the period 1999–2004 successfully wrote up their research for publication. Most publications were in psychology journals with modest but respectable impact factors. The most important theme thought to be related to success was supervisor factors, followed by trainee factors, general course factors, study characteristics and the demands of a new job following qualification. Recommendations to enhance publication success are made within the context of a broader discussion of the importance of facilitating the development of the new generation of clinical psychology researchers. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.