How do publications matter?

<p>Hi, I am applying to Ph.D. programs this year.</p>

<p>I was wondering what aspects of an applicant’s publications the admission committee looks at. How important are the following factors?</p>

<li>Research field (If it matches that of a faculty member.)</li>
<li>Quality of papers</li>
<li>Number of publications</li>
<li>Levels of conferences/journals</li>

<p>Are there some other factors about publications that are particularly important?</p>


<p>I don't know what field you are in, I would imagine it would be different for different subjects. I never published and I got into a few of my top choices, so I can say from my experience as a chemist that it doesn't matter too much. However, I would have liked to have published something before I sent in applications but I'm not sure it would have made any difference.</p>

<p>Prof X, porkypig, WillC, and anyone else, if you see this, I'd like you to weigh in. Do publications significantly improve one's chances of being admitted? Do they make up for weaknesses in the application?</p>

<p>In some fields it appears to be rather common for undergrads to be "n-th" author on one or more papers. In others it would be extremely unusual to even have a conference paper or poster. Obviously, a publication in a peer reviewed publication in the latter group would have more impact than in the former.</p>

<p>My feeling is that a publication or conference paper is "icing on the cake" of an otherwise solid application. If you have the basics (grades, test scores, academic prep.) to get past the first screening then "fit" as shown by your SOP, writing sample (where required) and LORs will be the deciding factor.</p>

<p>So the answer is, check in with the professors writing your LORs. Chances are one or more will be on the graduate ad-com and can clue you in to the best ways to present yourself.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>In political science, I think it certainly helps. On the other hand, it isn't something that, in my experience, admissions committees expect to see. But if it does appear in a file it makes us (or at least me) take a closer look at the file...</p>

<p>I should note that in my experience publications appear more often as a result of work in an MA program (MA thesis or term paper) than out of undergraduate work...</p>

<p>In biology, the most important factors would be the journal (is it Nature, or is it the Proceedings of the Nowheresville Academy of Sciences?) and the author number (are you first author, or sixth?). </p>

<p>But this is all sort of extra credit -- having a publication can help, but not having one won't hurt you. Most people in biology are not published by the time they apply to graduate school, but if you have a paper that's been submitted or is in revision, be sure to add it to your CV with the appropriate notation.</p>

<p>what about the importance of publications in terms of acquiring a faculty appointment?</p>

<p>in the other thread (Obtaining a professorship at a top university), Prof X showed a link about one person's experience of being on a faculty hiring committee. </p>

<p>he said pubs were of "diminishing returns", that if you basically had one "good" paper, that was enough for them to look at u.</p>

<p>so quantity isn't necessarily that much of a hook it seems, as long as you've got one decent pub.</p>


<p>First, it completely depends on the field. Most graduate admissions committees, however, do NOT expect to see publications. Publications are an impressive addition to one's application, but are not at all necessary when applying straight from undergraduate school.</p>

<p>If one is applying from an MA or MS program, however, there is a higher expectation of presentations and publications. Regional conferences and graduate-student-focused conferences (within one's discipline or interdisciplinary) are the most common to see. A presentation at the national annual meeting of one's primary academic association is rare, and thus impressive. A publication would be quite impressive, but again, the level of journal is expected to be low to middling. A Masters student with a publication in <em>the</em> journal of record in one's field is unbelievably rare.</p>

<p>I should add that I am speaking in terms of the humanities here. molliebatmit should be heeded in terms of the sciences.</p>



<p>In your opinion, for a Master's student who manages to publish into something like this, is it more a reflection of the student's talent, or the circumstance/opportunity they had at the institution they were at?</p>

<p>14 of spades,</p>

<p>I'm certainly not the last word here, but I would have to say in the humanities, talent -- accompanied by hard work. In the sciences, opportunity -- accompanied by hard work, UNLESS the student is first author. ;)</p>

<p>Thanks for the inputs.</p>

<p>My major is CS. It seems that it is not extremely surprising for applicants in this field to have one or more publications when they apply to Ph.D. programs, especially for those who did Master's or took a few years off after undergraduate education. I was thus wondering what the admission committee expects from such applicants.</p>

<p>As most people pointed out, I understand that having a publication is not absolutely necessary to get into decent programs. And publications alone would never guarantee admission, I assume. So what makes a difference?</p>



<p>Fit and letters of recommendation.</p>


I guess I'm cynical, but I see publication as an undergrad in the sciences to be heavily contingent on opportunities. Hard work and talent are only important after the student has already been given a lot in the way of opportunities -- to publish in a good journal as an undergrad, a student really has to enter a project in the right lab at the right time.</p>


<p>Sorry my question was not specific. I imagine that LORs and SOP would be among the primary factors affecting admission decisions, as you mentioned.</p>

<p>I wanted to ask, "what aspects of past research experience matter most, if not publications?" Publications are not an absolute determining factor, but research experience is quite important to get into good Ph.D. programs. Hence the question.</p>


<p>AH! things are coming together now! </p>

<p>WHO you work with will be important, particularly at the high end. You want someone who is known for running a tight ship and producing results on a regular basis. The "Really Big Name" who really only works with a couple of ABD's and has a bunch of undergrads just hanging around "feeding the mice*" is probably someone to avoid.</p>

<p>The level of your contribution and what you learned from it will by VERY important. This will come out in your LORs and your SOP (hehe).</p>

<p>In an ideal world your undergrad research work will prepare you for whatever it is you end up doing at the PhD level. But it is the work habits you learn from your PI and the rest of the team that will get you through.</p>

<p>And again, good luck and talk to your professors!</p>

<li>Yes, I know that most CS research doesn't involve mice... its a metaphor.</li>


<p>Thanks for your advice. I will make clear my role and contribution to published work in my SOP. :)</p>


<p>I agree. As undergrads and Master's students are not quite supposed to do publishable research work, unlike Ph.D. students, I feel that one needs to be lucky enough to work with a professor who trusts and respects his/her work, if that person is going to have a publication.</p>

<p>Hi guys,</p>

<p>I have a quick question regarding the worth of first author review articles. Are these worth anything at all in terms of applying to PhD programs from a Masters program (public health)?</p>


Certainly, if the article is in a reputable journal. Review articles aren't an indicator of intensive research experience (which you may also have) but do show your familiarity with your field. Assuming that you are not the only author on the review articles, your adviser should write you a recommendation that clearly indicates your contribution. (i.e., you drafted the manuscript and he ripped it apart and rewrote it, or you wrote it for a class and he was the instructor, or you wrote the whole thing and his name made it publishable, etc. All in kinder terms, of course.) The "worth" of your publication then depends somewhat on what he says you did.</p>

<p>In my opinion, any published article is worth something.</p>

<p>If your name is on a publication, whether it's in Nature or your college's undergraduate research journal, it should be going on your application. If you have an abstract or a poster or a presentation at a conference, it should be going on your application.</p>

<p>What is the significance of your position as author? For instance, if I jointly present a paper with a professor at a conference, how much less significant is that than to present a paper on my own?</p>