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mrmirv

Getting Published...Help or Hurt if in Low Tier Journal?

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Hi All,

Well I have some good news. Looks like some of my work is going to get published. While I want to keep my anonymous status, I don't want to reveal my name or where. My question is, when applying for PhD's, do you think admittance committee's will look down upon you if you aren't in the top journals? Or would they just be happy to see you published? I have a subfield I love very much and I was lucky enough to get it published in a lower tier journal who took it. Just curious. Thanks.

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does this happen to be an invitation from an uber-sketchy German publishing house? just checking (i got spammed by them a week ago)

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I think it all depends. A lower tier journal can be a meaningful one to certain sub-fields. However, we could all name a few journals that never publish important research and are more or less meaningless.

If the former, I think it will help. Even if your work isn't so meaningful, it's a lower tier journal that remains relevant despite its status (or lack thereof). If the latter, I don't think it will help and it may hurt. Dilenttantish, perhaps?

Anyway, like everything else in this process, it depends on too many variables to speak with certainty.

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I agree with the previous post. "Lower-tier" can mean a lot of things. For some people, it means anything below the Journal of Politics, while for others it means obscure journals with very high acceptance rates. If your lower-tier journal is generally viewed as a credible outlet--e.g., a journal ranked in the top 40 or 50 or so in the various rankings of journals--then publication there will help or will be neutral. Here's one simple check. If any of the faculty where you're applying have published in the journal in question, then publishing there isn't going to hurt you and it probably will help you.

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If you have published something in a real peer-reviewed academic journal - any peer-reviewed academic journal - it will help your application, while other publications will not make a difference. No publication (unless it is a racist screed or something) will hurt any candidate applying for graduate school admission. But the way the publication is presented will make a difference. Do not trumpet a publication in an undergraduate research journal like an article in the journals that faculty aim for.

I agree with the previous post. "Lower-tier" can mean a lot of things. For some people, it means anything below the Journal of Politics, while for others it means obscure journals with very high acceptance rates. If your lower-tier journal is generally viewed as a credible outlet--e.g., a journal ranked in the top 40 or 50 or so in the various rankings of journals--then publication there will help or will be neutral. Here's one simple check. If any of the faculty where you're applying have published in the journal in question, then publishing there isn't going to hurt you and it probably will help you.

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If you have published something in a real peer-reviewed academic journal - any peer-reviewed academic journal - it will help your application, while other publications will not make a difference. No publication (unless it is a racist screed or something) will hurt any candidate applying for graduate school admission. But the way the publication is presented will make a difference. Do not trumpet a publication in an undergraduate research journal like an article in the journals that faculty aim for.

Any idea on what percentage of people applying to a PhD are published?

Edited by mrmirv

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No hard numbers, but a minority of applications I see... not too common. That said, my department has rejected applicants with publications, and accepted many without.

Good to know. I am 30 and just finishing my BA (took time off as I went into a career I now hate) . Next Sept I start my masters which I should finish in a year. I am trying to do what I can to give my application to PhD programs as much quality writing as possible. I figure pubs would be a great way to enhance my application. I realize of course I need as close to a 4.0 as possible...good SOP...and good LOA's. I figure anything I can do will help.

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^4 Since someone much closer to the process said otherwise (Penelope Higgins), OP should disregard my original speculation. Congrats on getting published!

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^4 Since someone much closer to the process said otherwise (Penelope Higgins), OP should disregard my original speculation. Congrats on getting published!

Actually Tufnel, your original speculation was on the mark. All journal publications will not necessarily help you as an applicant, and some may hurt you. There are a lot of journals. Many refereed journals are generally viewed as being third- or fourth-tier. They publish some weak research and they have relatively high acceptance rates. They may be viewed as credible in the discipline as a whole, but, as an applicant, your audience isn't the discipline as a whole. The highest-ranked graduate programs are also the largest, which means most people apply to and receive their Ph.D.s from departments ranked in the top 40 to 50. Faculty at those kinds of departments generally aim high with their research, especially the faculty who are likely to be on graduate admissions committees (because deadwood faculty don't get placed on these committees). The last thing faculty want to have to do is break incoming graduate students of bad habits. If you have published in a fourth-tier journal, and especially if you make a big deal of it in your statement, you risk having someone on the admissions committee think that you don't get it, that you'd be coming in misinformed about the nature and quality of work expected of you. At these programs, virtually all faculty have journals they view as falling below the line of being credible, journals where, given the choice, they'd rather not publish a paper at all than publish it in journal x, y or z. If you have published in those journals, it is unlikely to help your case, and it may hurt. When putting your application together, I highly recommend that you read through it from the perspective of someone on the admissions committee, and especially that you do so with an eye toward red flags.

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I understand what you are saying. I guess I was looking for something to make me stand out. I will be honest, I don't think my work is going to get into the APSA anytime soon lol. My logic was building blocks, start small and as I get trained

with top notch faculty, I would do much better. I guess that is what I will lay out in my SOP.

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What we may be seeing here is that different departments consider different things in admissions. In the two grad departments where I have been involved, no publication in a peer-reviewed journal (with the exception of those specializing in publishing undergraduate work) will hurt you. In Wesson's experience, that may be different. This reveals that there is no one set of admissions criteria; with the exception of the very top candidates, people often get quite different results from departments that seem like equally good fits.

Actually Tufnel, your original speculation was on the mark. All journal publications will not necessarily help you as an applicant, and some may hurt you. There are a lot of journals. Many refereed journals are generally viewed as being third- or fourth-tier. They publish some weak research and they have relatively high acceptance rates. They may be viewed as credible in the discipline as a whole, but, as an applicant, your audience isn't the discipline as a whole. The highest-ranked graduate programs are also the largest, which means most people apply to and receive their Ph.D.s from departments ranked in the top 40 to 50. Faculty at those kinds of departments generally aim high with their research, especially the faculty who are likely to be on graduate admissions committees (because deadwood faculty don't get placed on these committees). The last thing faculty want to have to do is break incoming graduate students of bad habits. If you have published in a fourth-tier journal, and especially if you make a big deal of it in your statement, you risk having someone on the admissions committee think that you don't get it, that you'd be coming in misinformed about the nature and quality of work expected of you. At these programs, virtually all faculty have journals they view as falling below the line of being credible, journals where, given the choice, they'd rather not publish a paper at all than publish it in journal x, y or z. If you have published in those journals, it is unlikely to help your case, and it may hurt. When putting your application together, I highly recommend that you read through it from the perspective of someone on the admissions committee, and especially that you do so with an eye toward red flags.

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In the two grad departments where I have been involved, no publication in a peer-reviewed journal (with the exception of those specializing in publishing undergraduate work) will hurt you.

FWIW, this has been my experience as well.

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FWIW, this has been my experience as well.

I think in my SOP I will just simply say it is part of a progression in working in my field and learning the ropes. There is nothing like gaining experience in the blind peer review process. I will admit I have much to learn otherwise there is no point in going for a PhD. I think I just need to explain this the correct way. I can honestly say no one in my masters cohort is even thinking about publishing and the process has been vary rewarding.

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