getting published

<p>I'm currently a junior and have decided I'm going to be applying for clinical psych PhD programs next year with a goal of going into clinical neuropsychology. I feel like I have been doing pretty well with GPA, summer internships, researching, and I'm starting GRE prep. One thing that keeps worrying me is the fact that I'm pretty sure I won't have been including on any publications or presented at conferences by the time I graduate and I really can't get a grasp on how much this is going to influence admissions decisions. I was wondering if anyone can further clarify how big a deal this is for the type of program I'm aiming for. Thanks for any advice or help you can give.</p>

<p>I’m a first year School Psych PhD student who also knows quite a few Clinical grad students.</p>

<p>It’d be advisable to have at least a presentation or two on your vita/CV when you apply, but it’s not necessary too late to get one or two, even if you’re planning to apply this cycle (apps are typically due Dec.-Jan, with some due in Nov.). Talk to your research advisor and see if you can submit an abstract to an upcoming conference. Most people (I’d guess a “high” majority) don’t have publications when applying to or entering grad school (I had one, but it was definitely an oddity). Most do have conference posters/presentations, however. People can get in without them, but I think it’s fairly rare. </p>

<p>How much research experience do you have, and why don’t you think you’ll get any presentations or publications before graduating? If you don’t get in this cycle or choose to wait, one very common option is to get a paid research assistantship job for two years post-graduation (theoretically, applying during the 2nd year of that).</p>

<p>Good luck! :)</p>

<p>I don’t think it will be counter against you if you don’t have any presentations or publications. What matters is having done the research, and having your PI attest to that. Presentations and pubs are just extras that look nice, but don’t really speak to your core ability to do research (although of course presenting and writing up articles are quite important too!).</p>

<p>* Presentations and pubs are just extras that look nice, but don’t really speak to your core ability to do research (although of course presenting and writing up articles are quite important too!).*</p>

<p>This is not true at all.</p>

<p>_psych’s comment is right. No, you don’t have to have publications to get into graduate school, and most prospective students (especially those coming straight out of undergraduate school) don’t have them. But it is NOT true that presentations and publications are “extras” that don’t speak to your core ability to do research. Having a presentation or a publication means that the greater scientific community in your field has recognized your work as being meritorious in that field and wanted you to present it to them for everyone in your field to benefit from it. They are the <em>ultimate</em> arbiters of core ability to do research - more so than a recommendation. A rec from a professor (while very important!) shares one person’s opinion; a presentation or publication displays your research ability accepted by your field in general.</p>

<p>But, at the undergraduate level, it’s quite common for applicants to not have any publications. I myself didn’t have any, and I go to a top 20 program in psychology. But presentations, I think, are more common - even if you’ve only presented at student conferences or regional conferences in your area. You said you’ve done some summer internships; is it possible to shape one of your summer research projects into a presentation that you can give at a small regional conference or a student conference in your area? What about the research project you are working on currently with your advisor; can you ask him or her about conferences suitable for your area? At my alma mater presenting at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) was pretty common. See if there’s something like that in your area.</p>


There is something to be said about whether you’re first author on a publication, or sixth. I’ve seen students with many papers but not any in which they had primary contribution fare worse during admissions than students without papers. Your level of contribution to published papers is going to be judged; THAT is what actually “displays [whether] your research ability [is] accepted by your field.”</p>

<p>juillet - There are many reasons you can have done solid research and not gotten a publication. Your work might be part of a multi-year project that won’t be published until well after you’re gone, your PI might sit on manuscripts for a long time, the impact of your work might not be deemed sufficiently high by your PI to merit immediate publication, etc etc. Not having a publication is not the same as saying you can’t or haven’t done good research. That was my point. Having a publication means you’ve done good enough research to be published somewhere; not having a publication does not mean the opposite. </p>

<p>Graduate programs are interested in people who will be successful researchers. Having undergrad publications is one marker, but it is certainly not the most important. This is obvious: many, if not most, people who get into top programs don’t have publications. What is most important is evidence that you’ll be a good researcher: research experience backed up by LoR’s from researchers/PIs. </p>

<p>That is why your top priority should be getting quality research experience where you have an important role, not finding the lab where you can do the least work and still get a middle author pub out of it.</p>

<p>NeuroGrad - I was speaking specifically to your assertion that:</p>

<p>Presentations and pubs are just extras that look nice, but don’t really speak to your core ability to do research (although of course presenting and writing up articles are quite important too!).</p>

<p>Which is not true. They DO speak to your ability to do research. Of course, you can be a good researcher (in undergrad) without having published anything, but publications and presentations DO speak to your core ability. And of course, that moratorium does not last long - you are expected to publish early and often in graduate school, and it’s difficult to get a job after graduation without publications.</p>

<p>I never said anything about the quality of the lab that you’re working in - of course you want to work in the best lab for you - but it is simply incorrect to assert that publications have nothing to say about your ability to do research.</p>

<p>I’ll stand by what I said. As an undergrad, which the OP is, publishing is a bonus, not an expectation. Doing good work and getting a good LoR is approximately equal to doing good work, getting a good LoR, and being a middle author on a publication. Middle authors may have simply been doing grunt work under close supervision, and faculty/ad comms know this. That’s why a middle author pub is just a nice bonus, but having a PI write in his/her letter that you are self-motivated, competent, etc. is absolutely crucial. As an undergrad applying to grad school, a good letter far outweighs a publication. First author in a peer-reviewed journal is certainly a strong mark in your favor to ad comms, but even then the capacity to do good research is more important than the publication itself. </p>

<p>What do you think ad comms give more weight to: a LoR from a PI that specifically talks about the applicants’ abilities and promise or a publication that has some unspecified amount of input from the applicant?</p>

<p>Hi guys,
I just wanted to say thanks for all of the input. First, I think the reason that I feel that a pub/present wouldn’t be possible (even though I’m applying next year) is that in all my research experience I am helping grad students or PIs with their research rather than proposing and developing projects on my own. I feel like I can’t go and give a presentation on something that I’ve worked on but not developed myself. It does make me feel better the LoRs seem to be important as I feel I should have some very strong ones. Anyway, thanks for the input and I appreciate anything else anyone has to add</p>

<p>Undergraduates with presentations/publications hardly ever propose and develop the projects for which they have a presentation or publication. Usually, they are jointly listed as presenters or authors alongside the very grad students and PIs they helped. I am first author on a publication for doing most of the experiments/writing, not because I initiated the project or developed the entire thing.</p>



<p>This is exactly why publications by undergrads aren’t as important as people on CC make them out to be. It’s not the publication that matters; it’s the research experience that goes along with them. Your name on a publication usually indicates that you’ve done enough work on the project to merit inclusion. But there are other ways to prove that you’ve had experience: LORs, detailed SOP, REUs, etc. </p>

<p>Published papers are scientific contributions, and no one expects an undergraduate to contribute to his field at that stage in his training.</p>

<p>The above applies only to applicants applying directly out of undergraduate school. Those who have worked as researchers face a heavier burden in regard to publication. Again, programs don’t expect BS degree holders to make scientific contributions on their own; however, if a full-time researcher’s name doesn’t appear on at least one of his PI’s papers, then it may raise some questions. </p>

<p>Keep in mind that there are no absolutes in graduate admissions. Members on the admissions committee change on a yearly basis, so the program’s biases may shift with them. And much depends on who else applies to the program. One year, program A may admit only students with publications (because of the high level of research) while program B admits only one or two who have published. The following year, it may flipflop.</p>

<p>If you are working in a lab with faculty and/or grad students, it is possible to be third, fourth etc author on a publication, but it often takes a year or two to get through the journal submission/review/publication process, and by then the student has graduated from undergrad. </p>

<p>I would always encourage a student to publish if possible. It is a great feather in your cap and will look great on resumes/vitaes for years to come. I agree that is is not just “an extra that looks nice”, but also that the student at the undergrad level isn’t commonly going to be the core researcher or author on these papers. </p>

<p>AP approved Clinical psych/neuropsych programs are really rough to get into these days, and I applaud you for your desire and effort. Many programs will take few if any students right out of undergrad these days. I am thankful they did many moons ago when I did it. I had extensive research experience as an undergrad, but no publications at that time (I was at an LAC, not a big U for undergrad).</p>

<p>Good luck to you, OP, and if you have questions about the field and/or the profession, I am happy to help. I love it.</p>