Research Paper Publishing in Undergrad

Hi! I’m a freshman year student in a university pursuing a degree in econ and I was hoping to begin writing a research paper and publish it before i graduated. Anyone who had done something similar or is doing it right now? Can you give some tips to help me out? How do I publish, how do I peer-review etc

Help would be much appreciated. Even if you don’t have any ideas you are welcome to join in the thread. I don’t see any similar threads relating to this so it might be beneficial for everyone here

Why do you want to publish a research paper?

A) Is it because you think/hope it will help you find employment after college?

B) Is it because you think/hope it will help you get into a top Econ PhD program?

If it is A, it won’t.

If B, it might, but only if it is in a well regarded journal, and you already have stellar GPA, GRE, A’s in intensive math courses including Real Analysis, research/RA experience with professors at your undergrad institution so that they would have some basis to write laudatory LOR’s (ideally they would be highly respected academic economists with connections to top programs.) Even then, you’ll probably need two years of RA experience at a Central Bank or top econ program.

The takeaway here should be: don’t worry about publishing until you are in your PhD program.

Well that was a bit depressing. But it was honest and helpful. So thank you.

It’s B sort of. But I was hoping it’ll help with an application for scholarship for a masters program not a PhD. Also, there’s a personal reason as well. I want to dive into research to realize what its like before beginning a masters program. Moreover, I want to make a mark. Do something other than spending my time in university just taking classes.

Not sure that I agree with the comment that publishing in a peer reviewed journal will not be helpful in getting a job after college. Depends upon the job & upon the article content & on the preferences of the employer.

I know all of the details of one person who changed his life by entering & winning a competitive writing contest. Was offered & accepted a high paying position in NYC for which he never would have made it beyond the initial resume screening stage without the contest article. However, this was an unemployed recent law graduate in a very depressed market for lawyers, not an undergraduate.

My D published a paper (second author) as an undergrad by doing research with a professor. My guess is that it was a positive in terms of grad school admissions but she also had a very lhigh GPA, strong GMATs, excellent and personalized LORs etc.

Not sure about Econ, but being published will only be seen as a positive by any employer. To my knowledge, the only real path to get published as an undergrad is to participate in research along side a PhD candidate. Our son was published 3 times as an undergrad by working with Phd candidates in a lab. He listed these papers in his LinkedIn profile and in all his employment applications. Did they help? He thinks so (all the papers were in an area he is very interested in and so were the employers).


First thing you should do is talk to your undergrad Econ profs about your research interests. Would surprise me if talking to a few profs did not result in at least one offer to work with you on a research project.

Why an Econ Masters rather than a PhD?

In the US, if going on to industry/private employment, an econ masters does not add much value. Most of the jobs you could get with an econ masters, you could also get with an Econ BA or BS.

That said, many internationals go for econ masters as a credential to hopefully enhance their chance of admission to a top US econ PhD program.

Would suggest that and Grad School Admissions Results for 2006–2023 • might be good places to get an idea of what sort of background was helpful in economics grad admissions.

My daughter participated in undergraduate research and was published, but she wasn’t published until after graduation. It’s a process. Are you part of a research team? I agree that being published can only be a positive.

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That’s great energy!

It sounds like you want to publish a paper by yourself - without the guidance of a professor. That is unlikely to work. A better strategy is to work for a professor doing research, and learn things. Maybe it leads to a paper, maybe it doesn’t.