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Impact of Publications on SOP


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I am planning to apply for a Ph.D. in Computer Science at the top ten schools in US. I'm from a middle-tier Indian university (not an IIT) and have a not so stellar GPA of around 8.6 on a scale of 10. My grades in the classes pertaining to my area of research range from B+ to A+. I've been actively involved in research and was able to publish two top-tier conference papers in my area of interest during my undergraduate. (both first-author) I have been working at a well-known research laboratory in my field for more than a year and have three strong letters of recommendation from my academic collaborators, with whom I've worked closely for the past three years. 

Upon joining the research laboratory, I've been a part of one failed research project and two successful projects in the span of a year. Both of those projects have led to a paper submission. Unfortunately, none of those papers will be published by the time I apply to graduate school. (they have been rejected once, but they are fairly well written and I've sent out drafts to professors and they've praised the work)

I'm wondering how this whole year will impact my admissions process. I've undertaken research, but I don't have a publication to show for it. I'm unsure of whether to include these research projects in my Statement of Purpose or just talk about the first two which have been published.

Also, any pointers to make my application strong would be much appreciated!


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Your ability to talk about the projects in detail, what you contributed to them, and what you learned from them, is usually more important than whether or not they resulted in a publication (and certainly more than whether that publication will be officially out by the time you submit your application). You might not be able to discuss all of your projects at length (nor should you necessarily want to), so I think it's wise to concentrate on one or two that are the most directly related to your interests and fit best with the schools you're applying to. (So you might pick different projects for different applications.) All of your projects should be on your CV under Research Experience, and you might want to choose LOR writers who can discuss all of your projects, if possible. Again, at this point in your career it's more about growth and potential than actual deliverables. 

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