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siarabird

Undergraduate publishing/conferences?

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Hey guys. I was just wondering, is it normal/expected for undergraduate English students to publish papers or present at conferences? Have any of you guys done these things in your undergraduate years? I feel like I saw somewhere on these forums someone mentioning publishing as an undergrad or presenting their first paper at a conference...I've never done any of these things before (I'm currently a junior) nor have any of my English professors ever even mentioned such things. I actually just had to do a bit of research to find out what conferences are and what it even means to present a paper.

If it is something that I should be doing (considering that I'm going to start applying to PhD programs next fall and I can't imagine that this kind of experience would exactly hurt my chances) does anyone have any tips on getting started?

Thanks in advance for your advice guys, I'm addicted to you awesome people here on GradCafe. ^_^

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No, it's not normal. By all means, if you are ready (and your mentors think you are ready), go ahead and submit a paper to a conference. But don't rush publishing. Publications will follow you around for the rest of your life; you don't want to be attached to one you will regret later on, whether it's because it is in a sub-tier journal or it is a subpar example of the work you are (and will be later) capable of producing.

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No, it's not normal. By all means, if you are ready (and your mentors think you are ready), go ahead and submit a paper to a conference. But don't rush publishing. Publications will follow you around for the rest of your life; you don't want to be attached to one you will regret later on, whether it's because it is in a sub-tier journal or it is a subpar example of the work you are (and will be later) capable of producing.

Thanks so much for this! Haha, I don't actually believe I am ready by any means. :blink: My focus right now is more of writing excellent papers for the classes I am currently taking (gotta get that GPA, as well as writing experience), and reading into the publications of leading theorists in my field as well as the publications of the POIs I hope to work with in the future. It's actually quite a load off my back hearing that it isn't normal. ^_^ Thanks!

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I wouldn't worry too much about it. If you have the opportunity to do so, definitely go for it. But ultimately, your writing sample and statement of purpose will bear much more heavily on a schools decision whether to admit you. Conferences can be a nice way of showing that you are thinking about your professional development, but are generally not thought of as prestigious.

Getting published isn't something undergrads have to think too much about. Save those worries for grad school ;)

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I don't think it's normal. I'm in my senior year, and I'm presenting two papers at a conference, but it's our very own undergraduate English conference. Ha!

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At a lunch at the open house for one of the schools I visited, it came up that my undergraduate adviser keeps telling me to submit a portion of my thesis for publication, and two profs said DON'T PUBLISH. Not because of the quality of my work (neither had read my writing sample) but precisely because it is best to let ideas mull and you don't want something permanently attached to your name forever if your ideas or argument might still be inchoate, or if you haven't gotten much feedback on something except from your adviser. (Graduate students have multiple advisers and also collqouiua to help them with publishing). If you want to get a paper out there, conferences are the best.

I presented at an interdisciplinary undergraduate conference (sponsored by my university), and submitted a paper for a seminar at a major conference in my subfield. Though I had to pay a hefty some to attend the latter, there was no application or pre-approval necessary beforehand. It was definitely a great experience and if anyone has a few hundred bucks they don't mind spending, I'd recommend seminars/round tables as a way to circulate your ideas around and to get feedback. B)

Edited by girlmostlikely

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I don't know if presenting at conferences is necessary or how it is viewed by schools, but I say go for it if you have the interest and opportunity, because conferences are fun! The nice thing about conferences is that you don’t have to do a bunch of extra work for them—take one of those excellent papers you are working on that you have really enjoyed writing, and submit an abstract to a conference. Then all you have to do for the conference is edit your paper down to the appropriate length for presenting (general rule is 2 minutes per double-spaced page, but I’d test this first, because it might take you less time or more time depending on how fast you read). At most of the conferences I have been to, you just read your condensed paper, and then answer a few questions from the audience. It’s fun to get your ideas out there and discuss them with others, and to listen to other presentations, especially if you can find a conference that focuses on your area of interest. Also, schools sometimes will help pay for you to attend conferences, so that’s something to look into if you’re interested in presenting. Just my two cents.

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I published two papers and presented at a conference during my undergrad. In each case, though, it was a situation that was specific for undergraduate students (i.e. my university's undergraduate research journal, student conference, etc.). Although both of the papers that I published are somewhat related to what I want to study, they are light enough and distant enough from my future subject matter to keep me from worrying about being "weighted down" to undergrad-level ideas (one was about Disney's Beauty in the Beast, hehe).

Ultimately, I'm not sure that they made much of a difference in my applications--the schools that I was accepted to commented more on my writing sample. Do it because you enjoy it--I certainly had a good time!

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I published twice and presented twice. The publications were through my undergrad; presentations were professional. I don't think they really made or broke my applications. And, it was entirely coincidental. Three of us from my graduating class applied at the same time, and I know publishing was unusual. I do think that since my interests require a little big of legitimizing, they made me look more serious than my claim to want to study children's culture may have come across. I second everyone here saying don't publish before you're ready. I only went ahead because it seemed the best move. When I first presented, I was terrified. I thought they'd all just KNOW I was an undergrad and chase me out with pitchforks. Guess what. No one knew. (It wasn't a secret or anything, but no one commented.) In fact, even though I didn't march in there going, "I am READY!" I left feeling that I'd been more than prepared. If you do try to present as an undergrad, make sure it's something you're strongly confident in, and then remember: once you've done that research, you're the expert. It was a comfort to me that no one knows more about rhizomatic fictive kin structures in Peter Pan andthe Harry Potter series than I do. I would say, all said and done, do it if there's a conference or journal that seems like a convenient and good fit, but don't panic if you can't. Tons of successful people don't--many of whom I met during my visits to schools and are already in their third year.

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I am publishing something this year but I wasn't ready for it until now (also nothing was really good enough until now). I've presented at conferences but I don't think it did that much on my application, though the experience was nice. The writing sample I used is the paper I'm publishing and one of the professors I met with commented very positively on it, but I hadn't published anything when I applied.

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I've presented at two conferences, one regional and the other international. They were both with Sigma Tau Delta, so they're mostly geared for undergraduates, though there were a few grad students there. Conferences don't mean shit when you apply as an undergraduate, but I'd encourage you to go to one or two if you can afford it or if your university will pay for it (they paid for me!). They're lots of fun, good networking experiences, and great opportunities to prepare for "real" conferences later.

I wouldn't publish anything if I were you. I refuse to publish for the reasons aforementioned: I don't want a sub-par paper following me around the rest of my professional life. Or maybe all the papers I've written thus far are shit. Or both. Anyways, even the greatest undergraduate papers usually suck compared to graduate/professional work, so I'd stick to doing the best work you can on your writing sample, and maybe attending a conference or two if you're able.

Edited by Two Espressos

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