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(This question is set up under the EECS context, but any generic answer is much welcomed)

It is said that publications during one's undergraduate time will be an advantage in his/her PhD application. Usually, an undergraduate only starts publishing papers in his/her junior (3rd) year, and the application deadline usually comes at the end of his/her junior year. Hence, it is very likely that although the paper has been accepted by or even already presented in a certain conference, yet it has not been included into IEEE Xplore.

If the student has not uploaded the paper to some preprint database, such as arXiv or ResearchGate, then the admission committee will have no access to the paper. Of course, they may still be able to find some information about the paper, e.g., a tittle and an abstract appearing in the conference schedule, but after all they cannot go deeper into the paper content.

Questions

  • Does the admission committee even bother to go through the paper to assess the work quality? (Sometimes, you can have a rough quality assessment by looking at which journal/conference the paper is accepted by)
  • If the answer is positive, is it a good idea for the applicant to upload the papers to arXiv and provide the committee with the links so that the committee can read the papers as they wish?
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Short answers: Yes, they do, and yes, it is. –  JeffE Apr 27 at 3:57

2 Answers 2

While it's a single N experience from my graduate school application process:

Does the admission committee even bother to go through the paper to assess the work quality? (Sometimes, you can have a rough quality assessment by looking at which journal/conference the paper is accepted by)

Yes. Several interviews I had mentioned content within the paper, at at least one of them had a good 10 or 15 minute discussion about the research that didn't start with the phrase "So, tell me what your paper was about..."

If the answer is positive, is it a good idea for the applicant to upload the papers to arXiv and provide the committee with the links so that the committee can read the papers as they wish?

Yes. If your field is arXiv friendly, put it there. If your field isn't particularly arXiv friendly (like mine) and your paper is in press, consider providing the PDF as a supplement to your admissions packet.

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For admissions in the US, this is almost certainly true. I'm not so sure about European admissions, where individual groups make the hiring decisions. They may not have time to read every publication. –  aeismail Apr 27 at 15:04

Committee members will absolutely want to see it. The best way to ensure that they can easily do so is to submit a copy of the paper with the application (either on hard copy if the application is hard copy, or more commonly electronically). My own experience has been that most schools require submission of a writing sample as part of the application (although I'm not in engineering). Even if you've already published something, it's not enough to just give the reference; they want you to provide the actual paper.

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