How often does REU research lead to published research?

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InquilineKea
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How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby InquilineKea » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:07 pm

And how often does REU research lead to research that will be completely abandoned after the REU ends?

SSM
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby SSM » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:40 am

Do you mean to ask whether an abandoned REU project will negatively affect your application? That would be really unfair if it did, unless you were so lazy at the REU that nothing got done on your end. People generally expect little out of undergrads and if a project was abandoned it was probably beyond your control.

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InquilineKea
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby InquilineKea » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:09 pm

No, I didn't mean to ask that at all. I've never even done REU research at all, but I'm just trying to get a sense of how my non-REU research compares with REU research.

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grae313
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby grae313 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:56 pm

REU research typically happens over the summer, and they are often small projects just to give the undergrad student a taste of research. They are very unlikely to result in a publication unless they are extended over a longer period of time.

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YodaT
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby YodaT » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:53 pm

I'm sure REU projects are abandoned a lot. It has to do mainly with the student's lack of direct contact with whoever they are working with over the summer. Also, it takes a while for the student to get up to speed with whatever project they pick up.

Here are some examples:

Two summers ago I spent a summer at an REU program working with a well-known theorist. It took me (as a 2nd year physics major) about 5 weeks to get up to speed, 3 weeks producing new results, and a week to write a report and prepare a presentation. I took a week off to attend a conference for an unrelated project. I took the project home, at the professor's request, and I started producing interesting results. I eventually lost contact with the researcher I was working with (he was out of the country for several months). This resulted in no publications.

This past summer I was invited to do research with a respectful theorist on a HEP-theory/differential geometry project. I already did research on the topic he was involved in (worked with one of his former students). It took me 4 weeks to reproduce results in two previously published papers of his and a week studying a very concentrated field of mathematics. I spent 3 weeks producing new results, a week at an undergraduate conference presenting results, and a week compiling all my notes for them. I got to attend a workshop and asked if I could continue the project as a senior thesis, I was denied because the professor was concerned about our lack of direct contact. Regardless, my name is going on the paper soon to be submitted for publication.

You can see that it doesn't always depend on the student's amount of work put into the project. I spent a summer and a semester rigorously working on the project that resulted in no publication, but spent only the summer and sparingly worked on some proofs throughout the semester for the project that resulted in a publication. It depends on the nature of the project itself (will it produce interesting results and are they achievable). Also, it depends on the connections established and previous experience in the field.

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InquilineKea
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby InquilineKea » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:47 am

Wow - thanks so much for the personal examples.

It does appear that in a lot of cases, once you've managed to lose contact for a while, then there's practically a point of no return (since it just takes too much work on both sides of the aisle to continue).

And damn - getting up to speed in 5 weeks. That's totally understandable (as I can also take that long to get up to speed). But wow - I wonder how many REU students end up taking the whole summer just to get up to speed.

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grae313
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby grae313 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:55 pm

InquilineKea wrote:I wonder how many REU students end up taking the whole summer just to get up to speed.


I'd honestly guess most of them, unless you have previous experience in the area. In my opinion most of the programs are meant to be... well, programs. They're specifically aimed at giving students who don't have a lot of research opportunities at home exposure to research with a brief immersion in the environment, a small project, and a chance to build connections. Exceptions abound, I'm sure, but I don't believe the primary goal of an REU is to do lots of high quality research and generate publications.

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InquilineKea
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby InquilineKea » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:18 pm

Thanks - those are definitely good points!

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lxhrk9
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby lxhrk9 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:14 pm

I agree with grae. It may be possible to begin getting "up to speed" before the program though and I would recommend it. My professor recommended some reading before I arrived. (He contacted me but maybe it can work the other way?)

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midwestphysics
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby midwestphysics » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:39 pm

It also completely depends on whether its experimental or theoretical. A project may never get off the ground because you can't get the equipment to work, or spend all your time trying to do so. In theory you can get stuck on the math of course, but with experiment you could be chugging along and something breaks and that could spell the end of it too.

ThatTallGirl
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Re: How often does REU research lead to published research?

Postby ThatTallGirl » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:02 pm

It's pretty hit or miss. I seem to be a major exception, as I got publications from my REU last summer and will likely get another from the program I'm currently in.




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