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Publishing while getting Masters, and with whom...

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I'm a student in the Maxwell School's Masters of Social Science distance-learning program (I graduated cum laude with a BA in PoliSci). I'm going through the (long and arduous process) of joining the Foreign Service at present, but if that does not pan-out (and eventually even if it does) I plan on going on to a PhD in IR or related (I'm particularly interested in schools in the UK and Europe). I want to make myself as competitive as possible with the background and education I have. To this end, I'm considering what it would take to publish. 
Because of the nature of a distance-learning program, I have not had a lot of personal interaction with the faculty at Maxwell yet. The program does have a residency requirement of four weeks in the summer, and I plan to make full use of the face time with faculty, but I don't want to just be sitting around until then. I have considered contacting some of my undergraduate professors — I was on very good terms with a couple of them — to see about opportunities to research and publish with them.
Is it a no good, horrible, bad idea? Is this a good idea? And if so, I'm not sure whether I should approach with my own ideas (one was particularly interested in my undergrad capping project) or expect to work with them on theirs. 
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I am not in your field so I can't offer much advice. I will say that publications will help your cause greatly, but often only if it's in a reputable (i.e. good/great) journal.

Also, publication seems to be the thing to do these days. But it is tough. IF you have a paper that is publishable, or you are capable of writing a publishable paper, then go for!! But it seems that many grad students are attempting this and truly aren't ready.

When I began publishing as a MA student I spoke with professor about where to submit (after he encouraged me to publish a term paper). I took a list of journals that he provided and began to research these journals (as well as others). You need to understand the field, understand the journal. What type of research does a particular journal tend to publish? What is their estimated review time? Submitting a paper only to have it rejected 8 months later won't help your CV.

Also, avoid this common mistake: don't submit a slew of papers and list them all on your CV as "under review." No one cares, and typically it looks as though you are simply submitting papers just to add it to your CV. If a paper is genuinely under review then ok. So because of this, and the turn-around time, I recommend getting stuff sent out as earlier as possible.

I will add that I am currently applying to my PhD and have 3 solid journal publications and a book chapter (and a professional blog). Adcomms have mentioned that they are impressed by this.

Best of luck to you.

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