How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

irockhard
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How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby irockhard » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:38 am

When you consider joining a professor's research group, how can you bring up the subject of publication in a discrete way. What's a better way than to ask the professor straight up "if I work for you, will I get a publication in a relatively short period of time?" How do you raise this question without making the professor think you care only about grad school application.

cato88
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby cato88 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:02 am

No way you could possibly do
irockhard wrote:"if I work for you, will I get a publication in a relatively short period of time?"


Just ask postdoc and other students how often he publishes and if he gives undergrads author credit.

sterculus
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby sterculus » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:07 am

Or look online for papers with the PIs name on it, and see how often they publish (and compare to a lab roster if the group has a website for undergrad credit on those papers). Least intrusive method. Directly asking the prof, as cato88 said, is a bad idea.

cato88
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby cato88 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:26 am

sterculus wrote:Directly asking the prof, as cato88 said, is a bad idea.

Hes on the road to grad school success though. All you need to give yourself
a greater probability is balance reputation of your professor with
likelihood of getting authorship credit and not care about working in a specific
subfield.

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zxcv
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby zxcv » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:37 am

There are certainly factors dependent on a particular adviser or lab that control whether or not you're likely to get published.

But unless you just getting tossed onto somebody else's project, the truth is that it depends on how much progress you make on yourself, and that's impossible to predict, especially over a short timescale. And even if you get lucky, it takes a lot of dedication and effort to turn that into a first author publication. (In my experience, every adviser I've worked for has told me at the start that my work has a decent chance of turning into a publication, but that only actually happened once. And it took an entire year and a half just to submit it.)

Sure, any publication counts, but that second to last author thing you get for supplying one figure doesn't count for much. Just do you best to do good, relevant research in an area that people care about, and your chance for publication will follow naturally. A proactive approach to research is how you have a chance earn that publication, but it's also how you earn the respect of an adviser whose letter will determine whether you get into grad school in any case.

cato88
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby cato88 » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:52 am

zxcv wrote:Just do you best to do good, relevant research in an area that people care about, and your chance for publication will follow naturally.

That isnt very practical for grad school admission. What if he is talking about HEP. He is very unlikely to get a publication
regardless of how hard he works (There are collaboration wide rules for publication).
He also doesnt necessarily have to be first author. I agree first author as an undergrad takes work and to some extent luck but hes is more likely to increase this likelihood by choosing an adviser that gives his undergrads authorship. There is no reason this should change the value of his recommenders either since that is completely orthogonal since regardless of who he chooses the fact he spends a large amount of time with that professor should mean he gets a good recommendation. I also believe an adviser who is more likely to give you author credit is more likely to gush about all of his students.
It comes down to two scenarios. Work hard for a professor get a great recommendation but no publications
or work hard for a professor get a great recommendation and multiple third author publications. Which has a leg up in
grad admissions?

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zxcv
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby zxcv » Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:18 am

I should have put as a disclaimer that my work has been on theory and math projects where I didn't really have a place to "piggy-back" on anyone else's work. I'm not very familiar with other areas.

If your great recommendation is from a respected scientist, and you worked hard enough that perhaps a publication could have come out of your work, I really don't think authorship is going to make much of a difference compared to what is in your adviser's letter. You're going to have to work very hard in either case, and a strong recommendation from a respected scientist will get you in anyways. A publication is external validation, but its just adding the thoughts of one anonymous referee. There are a lot of people at Berkeley (the majority?) who come in having published nothing, but everyone has done substantial research.

Yes, maximize your changes of publication, but I don't think that should be your top priority. Look for who is most successful in their field and whose students have gone on to be most successful. Work hard with the aim of getting a first author publication, but don't be disappointed if it doesn't happen because the process is what matters.

Just my opinion. I'm not on any admission committees :D.

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twistor
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby twistor » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:07 am

Here's what you do.

When you begin discussing the project with the scientist, you ask if and when they plan to publish the results. If it's something substantial they're not just going to sit on the data, and chances are it's part of a larger project, anyway. At that point you have the right to ask if you will receive credit for your work.

You can ask questions as, "will I have the opportunity to participate in conferences related to this work" and "can I participate in the publication of this work?" All of these things are important for prospective graduate students so professors are going to know why you're asking them. And don't be afraid to be direct about asking if your name will be on a paper. Think about it. If the professor says no, would you still do research with him or her? If the answer is no then it's better that you know right away so you can choose someone else to work with.

creepypasta13
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby creepypasta13 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:35 pm

twistor wrote:Here's what you do.

When you begin discussing the project with the scientist, you ask if and when they plan to publish the results. If it's something substantial they're not just going to sit on the data, and chances are it's part of a larger project, anyway. At that point you have the right to ask if you will receive credit for your work.

You can ask questions as, "will I have the opportunity to participate in conferences related to this work" and "can I participate in the publication of this work?" All of these things are important for prospective graduate students so professors are going to know why you're asking them. And don't be afraid to be direct about asking if your name will be on a paper. Think about it. If the professor says no, would you still do research with him or her? If the answer is no then it's better that you know right away so you can choose someone else to work with.


You're suggesting to say and ask these things to the prof BEFORE you work for him/her? That sounds pretty direct to me and as mentioned before, the prof would think you're only interested in their research to improve your grad school apps

Anyways, what about asking a prof you USED to work for about the possibility of a publication? I would imagine it won't happen if the prof produces only a few per year and I only spent about 15-20hrs/wk doing research with the prof for about 15 weeks, and got some results. This was for materials physics. I stopped working for him a little over a year ago

bfollinprm
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:50 pm

creepypasta13 wrote:
twistor wrote:Here's what you do.

When you begin discussing the project with the scientist, you ask if and when they plan to publish the results. If it's something substantial they're not just going to sit on the data, and chances are it's part of a larger project, anyway. At that point you have the right to ask if you will receive credit for your work.

You can ask questions as, "will I have the opportunity to participate in conferences related to this work" and "can I participate in the publication of this work?" All of these things are important for prospective graduate students so professors are going to know why you're asking them. And don't be afraid to be direct about asking if your name will be on a paper. Think about it. If the professor says no, would you still do research with him or her? If the answer is no then it's better that you know right away so you can choose someone else to work with.


You're suggesting to say and ask these things to the prof BEFORE you work for him/her? That sounds pretty direct to me and as mentioned before, the prof would think you're only interested in their research to improve your grad school apps

Anyways, what about asking a prof you USED to work for about the possibility of a publication? I would imagine it won't happen if the prof produces only a few per year and I only spent about 15-20hrs/wk doing research with the prof for about 15 weeks, and got some results. This was for materials physics. I stopped working for him a little over a year ago


I certainly asked what conferences we were participating in, and the only reason I didn't ask if I was going to be on a paper was that the professor said "I've been working on a paper, and I need someone to figure this out. Interested?" Otherwise, certainly ask. If it's a big collaboration you should also ask for a project that can lead to a paper within a year (if possibile). The number one reason to do research is for LoR's from people who know your work as a "physicist" so it's sometimes worth working even if a paper isn't forthcoming in time. Definitely ask about conferences though, and if they say no for money reasons, offer to pay your own way to represent the group at APS or AAS or something.

creepypasta13
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby creepypasta13 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:45 am

.

Bohr Steady Mobbin'
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby Bohr Steady Mobbin' » Wed May 04, 2011 3:22 pm

cato88 wrote:No way you could possibly do
irockhard wrote:"if I work for you, will I get a publication in a relatively short period of time?"


Just ask postdoc and other students how often he publishes and if he gives undergrads author credit.


I don't really like the idea of shopping around behind professors' backs trying to figure out which one will get you the furthest, but I'm in a similar situation at the moment where I am, in fact, 'shopping around' and don't know which professor I should try to research with. When I look at their past research papers, it isn't as if there are giant letters that say THIS PERSON WAS AN UNDERGRADUATE, but many of the professors I'm considering asking don't even seem to have more than a couple of names on their papers.

My school is an enormous party school with a tiny physics department. The best of both worlds. :roll:

bfollinprm
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby bfollinprm » Thu May 05, 2011 9:06 am

cato88 wrote:No way you could possibly do
irockhard wrote:"if I work for you, will I get a publication in a relatively short period of time?"


Just ask postdoc and other students how often he publishes and if he gives undergrads author credit.


I disagree. There's no shame in saying to a professor, "I want to make sure I get a chance to work on publication-worthy research this summer."

pqortic
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby pqortic » Thu May 05, 2011 1:57 pm

I want to distinguish between paid research and voluntary research. because if the professor is paying you for what you do in his lab, then he can put you wherever he wants based on your potentials and his expectations. but if you are not getting paid then you could discuss that you want to put your efforts on a subject which is closer to final results and publication.

bfollinprm
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby bfollinprm » Thu May 05, 2011 3:00 pm

pqortic wrote:I want to distinguish between paid research and voluntary research. because if the professor is paying you for what you do in his lab, then he can put you wherever he wants based on your potentials and his expectations. but if you are not getting paid then you could discuss that you want to put your efforts on a subject which is closer to final results and publication.


Meh. No one does physics for the money. A paycheck doesn't make you a peon, it just gives the prof a valid excuse to expect a full, productive 40 hrs. What you work on should still be your choice; albeit a choice you make when you sign up for the research.

pqortic
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby pqortic » Thu May 05, 2011 6:17 pm

bfollinprm wrote:
pqortic wrote:I want to distinguish between paid research and voluntary research. because if the professor is paying you for what you do in his lab, then he can put you wherever he wants based on your potentials and his expectations. but if you are not getting paid then you could discuss that you want to put your efforts on a subject which is closer to final results and publication.


Meh. No one does physics for the money. A paycheck doesn't make you a peon, it just gives the prof a valid excuse to expect a full, productive 40 hrs. What you work on should still be your choice; albeit a choice you make when you sign up for the research.


no, but you want to do physics to publish something. all I am saying is that if you don't get paid you have right to ask the professor not to involve you in a research that is at the startup stage (given that you care to have publication after a while working there).

TheBeast
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Re: How do you ask a professor for possibility of publication

Postby TheBeast » Thu May 05, 2011 10:37 pm

pqortic wrote:no, but you want to do physics to publish something. all I am saying is that if you don't get paid you have right to ask the professor not to involve you in a research that is at the startup stage (given that you care to have publication after a while working there).

You're well within your rights to ask to work on something that may have a greater chance of publication if you're volunteering your labour. However, the prof may prefer to give those opportunities to others who have proven themselves in some way (students who have worked with them before, winners of awards, people who have secured summer funding through some other means). I've done volunteer research before and sometimes found myself at the bottom of the pile. The attitude from the PIs being basically, "if you were good, you would be paid some way or another; here's your chance to demonstrate that you not being paid was a gross oversight."




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