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BalkanItinerant

Publication On PhD Applications

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Hi all. I'm recently graduated with a BA in History from an R1 school. My major GPA was solid at around a 3.7, while my overall GPA was lagging behind at around a 3.1 thanks to certain STEM courses I probably should have avoided. I did however show a solid upward trend the last two semesters of undergrad. I'm applying for around ten top-ranked PhD programs on the East Coast this winter (all top 20, hopefully not a reach) and am trying to pad my application a little bit with good letters of recommendation (not a worry at all for me), a competent GRE score, and a publication of one of my undergrad papers from Spring. When I submitted the paper in the course, the professor said that it was worthy of publication and gave me some tips on certain undergraduate/graduate history journals that would consider publishing it. He went so far as to call it a "for sure publication", which made me feel a bit better at my chances to get into a program at a place like Columbia/Brown/Yale/etc despite a sub-par cumulative GPA. Has anyone here applied for a PhD from BA level with a publication already secured? Does it make any profound difference in the admissions process or is it not something that is really considered?

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2 hours ago, BalkanItinerant said:

Hi all. I'm recently graduated with a BA in History from an R1 school. My major GPA was solid at around a 3.7, while my overall GPA was lagging behind at around a 3.1 thanks to certain STEM courses I probably should have avoided. I did however show a solid upward trend the last two semesters of undergrad. I'm applying for around ten top-ranked PhD programs on the East Coast this winter (all top 20, hopefully not a reach) and am trying to pad my application a little bit with good letters of recommendation (not a worry at all for me), a competent GRE score, and a publication of one of my undergrad papers from Spring. When I submitted the paper in the course, the professor said that it was worthy of publication and gave me some tips on certain undergraduate/graduate history journals that would consider publishing it. He went so far as to call it a "for sure publication", which made me feel a bit better at my chances to get into a program at a place like Columbia/Brown/Yale/etc despite a sub-par cumulative GPA. Has anyone here applied for a PhD from BA level with a publication already secured? Does it make any profound difference in the admissions process or is it not something that is really considered?

Not profoundly.  You're just getting the experience.

The most important thing is to focus on your writing sample and clarifying the questions you'd like to explore as a PhD student. I also would keep working on languages (or start on something related to your area of interest).  Finally, understand that there is no "reach/match/safety" in PhD admissions.  As with academia as a whole, much also depends on luck.  I also encourage you to look beyond the East Coast as being part of academia does require one to be mobile as possible, particularly if one is interested in a tenure-track professor job at the end.

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32 minutes ago, TMP said:

  I also encourage you to look beyond the East Coast as being part of academia does require one to be mobile as possible, particularly if one is interested in a tenure-track professor job at the end.

I would go beyond this: most of the existing jobs are at R2/3s, SLACs, and PUIs, dominantly in the Midwest and South. It's equally worth noting that these jobs do not pay particularly well, especially given the time invested.

If you're particularly tied to any location, I would strongly advise against pursuing a PhD. You have some choice as to where you go to graduate school. You have little ability to control where you go afterward.

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Congratulations on your BA!

I had two publications going through the review process when I applied last year and they definitely helped my case a lot, but a) I had a masters and b) as is so often the case publications are just one of many factors that graduate committees take into account (as is, for that matter, your GPA). Your focus should probably be on your SOP and writing sample, along with languages, as TMP suggested. A publication/submission won't have a profound impact but will help to build your case. One important point though: not all publications are created equal.

The reputation and ranking of the journal you intend to submit to matters a great deal - in my case the journals in question were either top tier or not far behind, as I'd had time to prepare and plan, while undergrad/grad journals carry far less heft. Some academics I've known even discourage grad students from submitting publications at all until they feel they are ready to go for better journals and I think there is merit to this view. Publications should demonstrate your ability to do high-level original work, and if your work is high-level and original then it should be submitted to a good journal in your field. If it gets rejected just take the feedback on board and submit to another one.

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7 hours ago, BalkanItinerant said:

 When I submitted the paper in the course, the professor said that it was worthy of publication and gave me some tips on certain undergraduate/graduate history journals that would consider publishing it. He went so far as to call it a "for sure publication", which made me feel a bit better at my chances to get into a program at a place like Columbia/Brown/Yale/etc despite a sub-par cumulative GPA. Has anyone here applied for a PhD from BA level with a publication already secured? Does it make any profound difference in the admissions process or is it not something that is really considered?

You can publish in a graduate or undergraduate journal if you like, but I don't think it counts for anything in the admissions process. Publications in peer-reviewed, scholarly journals -- that's impressive. Undergraduate journals, not so much. Additionally, you may be giving away scholarship that you could develop into an article for a major academic journal later while in graduate school (undergraduates also, on very rare occasions, publish important articles in "real" journals). I would concentrate on improving the writing sample.

Edited by AfricanusCrowther

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