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whybanana

How far does a first author pub get you in grad apps?

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I'm about to publish my undergraduate thesis in Nature as first author (so grateful and happy!). I'll likely get another first author publication out of my project by the end of the year, likely lower IF. I know it doesn't make me a shoo-in for PhD programs, but how far could this take me if I apply to competitive programs in my field (Rockefeller, GSK, UCLA, MIT)?

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I mean a first author in Nature (assuming you mean mother nature), is usually what Postdocs ride into a Tenure-Track faculty position. I'd assume that along with LORs would put you in the highest tier of applicants for any program. 

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Any publications will be incredibly helpful. A first author Nature publication is outstanding. Congrats! 

I will say, you better know every single aspect of that paper. You should know why every experiment was done and you should be able to defend every decision. I can see some top tier professors taking your publication as a challenge to stump you. 

 

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thank you! I'm just psyched that my hard work finally paid off. my grades aren't spectacular, only because I dedicated so much time to research since it was way more interesting and intellectually stimulating to me than lecture-based classes. my LORs reflect this as well.

i'm off to Imperial College to complete a masters by research in my field. i'm hoping that, along with my publications, will give me a good chance at some of my dream programs. 

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I think it will help your application tremendously. I went into the 2017 application season with a 3.36 GPA, below average GRE for first or second tier program, but a ton of research and a 1st author publication in a much lesser journal than Nature. And now I'm headed to BCM, almost purely off the back of my research and publication. I had easily the worst stats of anyone at my interviews (at least who I spoke with), and two separate faculty told me that my research/first-author publication got me an interview over my "middling" GPA and GRE.

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11 hours ago, bioapplerobot said:

I think it will help your application tremendously. I went into the 2017 application season with a 3.36 GPA, below average GRE for first or second tier program, but a ton of research and a 1st author publication in a much lesser journal than Nature. And now I'm headed to BCM, almost purely off the back of my research and publication. I had easily the worst stats of anyone at my interviews (at least who I spoke with), and two separate faculty told me that my research/first-author publication got me an interview over my "middling" GPA and GRE.

Congratulations! Hope I'm lucky enough to follow your footsteps. Like you, I feel like I have everything else going for me aside from my grades (3.37). But I'm lucky enough to have had amazing mentors and PIs who supported me throughout my years of research and continue to do so postgrad. 

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12 hours ago, whybanana said:

Congratulations! Hope I'm lucky enough to follow your footsteps. Like you, I feel like I have everything else going for me aside from my grades (3.37). But I'm lucky enough to have had amazing mentors and PIs who supported me throughout my years of research and continue to do so postgrad. 

Since your GPA is basically the same as mine, the one piece of advice I'd give is to crush the GRE. I got the impression that my GRE (166 V, 156 Q) may have been okay for people with GPAs >3.7 or so, was seen almost as a confirmation of my bad grades. The test is not that hard, so just buckle down and nail it, unlike what I did :P

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