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The importance of publishing as a masters student - or not?

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The director of my masters course implied that I should choose my research project (thesis) based on how quickly I want my name in a journal. It got me thinking about the benefits of having a publication on your CV so early in your career - and if there really are any? Do prospective employers actually look favourably upon candidates who have a publication history? Would you be 'worse off' on the job market if you graduated your masters without a publication - especially if others on your course DID graduate with one? Or is publication history mostly only relevant if you want to continue in academia? Is choosing a research area based on how quickly/easily it can get pubished, actually the best way to make that decision?

 

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This depends in part on whether this is a terminal Masters or if it on the path to a PhD.

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22 minutes ago, swansont said:

This depends in part on whether this is a terminal Masters or if it on the path to a PhD.

I'd love to do a PhD but because of my circumstances and finances I think this will be a terminal masters and I will be heading into the industry. 

 

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If you're doing an MD, publishing opens doors to further specialisation.

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2 hours ago, limit said:

I'd love to do a PhD but because of my circumstances and finances I think this will be a terminal masters and I will be heading into the industry. 

 

In that case, applicable and demonstrated skills (including soft skills) are more relevant.

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5 hours ago, Function said:

If you're doing an MD, publishing opens doors to further specialisation.

It's not an MD, it's an MMedSci, but it is a specialised course in itself, leading to a specialist career in human fertility science and assisted reproduction. So I suppose I'm not worried about specialisation, other than developing a research interest area? But then again, I know scientists oten have multiple research interests.

4 hours ago, CharonY said:

In that case, applicable and demonstrated skills (including soft skills) are more relevant.

I thought as much. But if I wanted to get onto a PhD programme, a publication history would be more relevant?

So overall would you guys say it is foolish to pass up the opportunity to take part in a project which gave applied job skills and a chance of publication, in favour of something you personally are more invested in (in terms of interest, and where it might be going long-term)?

Edited by limit
to give clarity

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On 4/27/2019 at 6:43 AM, limit said:

 

For a PhD finding a good group and fit within is more important. E.g. if the MSc supervisor wants to take you on, they'll tell you what they expect. This may or may not include papers, depending on the project, but it varies significantly between disciplines, too. However, especially if do your MSc in a non Western country (or Japan), and want to apply for a Phd, in one of those countries publications in international journals are very helpful.

With regard to interest you will have to ask yourself how well you can perform if the topic does not really interest you.

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On 4/27/2019 at 10:17 PM, swansont said:

This depends in part on whether this is a terminal Masters or if it on the path to a PhD.

As someone very very early on this journey and doing it very late - I'd appreciate if you could expand on this.

My personal experience is that my curiosities are too broad and defining a study course through my interests, and doing this somewhat efficiently through how quickly I can gain qualifications, well these things are diametrically opposed.

I am fascinated by the concept of Masters v PhD. I get the different levels of academic interest/ability but there are always going to be details that sit around this. A M Science should not EVER be sneezed at.

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1 hour ago, druS said:

As someone very very early on this journey and doing it very late - I'd appreciate if you could expand on this.

My personal experience is that my curiosities are too broad and defining a study course through my interests, and doing this somewhat efficiently through how quickly I can gain qualifications, well these things are diametrically opposed.

I am fascinated by the concept of Masters v PhD. I get the different levels of academic interest/ability but there are always going to be details that sit around this. A M Science should not EVER be sneezed at.

If you are doing a PhD, publishing while attaining your Masters doesn't matter as much, since there is the expectation that you will publish during (or immediately after) the PhD phase. Submitting the work for publication was a requirement for my PhD, and I know of places where multiple papers were expected/required.

If you deem publications to be crucial to your employment chances, then you have to publish as part of a terminal MSc 

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23 minutes ago, swansont said:

If you are doing a PhD, publishing while attaining your Masters doesn't matter as much, since there is the expectation that you will publish during (or immediately after) the PhD phase. Submitting the work for publication was a requirement for my PhD, and I know of places where multiple papers were expected/required.

If you deem publications to be crucial to your employment chances, then you have to publish as part of a terminal MSc 

On ‎4‎/‎27‎/‎2019 at 1:12 AM, limit said:

is publication history mostly only relevant if you want to continue in academia?

 

I think it's more relevant if you want to go into academia. If you go and work in industry I doubt they will care about publications.

I penned a couple of papers and gave them to my Ph.D. supervisor when I was doing mine. He retired soon after I graduated and he never submitted them for publications. I didn't really care as I was always headed for industry rather than lecturing or academic research. Looking back, maybe I should have pushed him to get on with it and get me published. It has made no difference for me personally, but would probably look bad if I wanted to post doc somewhere.

 

 

 

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57 minutes ago, DrP said:

 

I think it's more relevant if you want to go into academia. If you go and work in industry I doubt they will care about publications.

I penned a couple of papers and gave them to my Ph.D. supervisor when I was doing mine. He retired soon after I graduated and he never submitted them for publications. I didn't really care as I was always headed for industry rather than lecturing or academic research. Looking back, maybe I should have pushed him to get on with it and get me published. It has made no difference for me personally, but would probably look bad if I wanted to post doc somewhere.

I was in a very different situation in grad school. New professor, not yet tenured. We had not gotten to a point where new experimental results were being churned out, so we had limited opportunities (experiment/apparatus descriptions) and more is better for tenure review.

(in my postdoc we had a few publications and I kept getting my name added to papers for several years after I left, because I had built a crucial part of the apparatus. As it was at an accelerator lab, having 20+ names on an experiment was not unusual and so not a burden to include even minor contributors. But not needed at that point, since I was already in my government lab position)

 

So yeah, whether you need the publications on your cv is a matter of your career trajectory. Probably doesn't hurt, but may not help all that much. YMMV

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Just now, swansont said:

I kept getting my name added to papers for several years after I left,

Actually I mentioned my lack of publications to a postdoc from our group who became a lecturer at our Uni a few years later. He said he'd seen my name on some papers that came out of the group after I left. I hope that was the case, but I never found them from searching the net. I might get back to him to see what they were. In any case - wasn't relevant to my career path in industry.

 

 

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It should perhaps be noted that having publications can be seen as a positive, especially if otherwise there is not a lot of distinguishing features with one's peers. 

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In my experience (at least in fields like chemistry, physics, life sciences in general) it is common that PhD students assist/coach master students.

Obviously without a guarantee but the objective is that this piece of research performed by a master student leads to publishable results that ultimately should lead to a publication either solely based on these results or as part of a collection of results by other group members. It is nothing but ethical to mention the master student if he/she contributed to the publication even if the master student is already long gone.

So it comes with the job so to speak that there is possible chance for publication and as said by others it depends on your future plans (research related position or not) whether it is of any use for your job changes. Having a clear 'proof' that you've done something usefull that resulted in a publication is I feel by it selve already a nice thing.

Edited by Paul2reach

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