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Suppose that I've written 10 academic papers. Which CV is the best for academic appointments?

  • 5 publications in mid-high ranked journals, 5 in low ranked (but nevertheless peer-reviewed) journals.

  • 5 publications in mid-high ranked journals, 5 working papers that you disclose on your CV and publish on your website/University profile (assume that these could have been published in low-ranked journals but you chose not to).

  • 5 publications in mid-high ranked journals, 5 papers that you've written that you file draw away when you figure out they you're not going to be able to publish them in a top quality journal (assume that these could have been published in low-ranked journals but you chose not to).

The third dot-point may be unethical, I'm not sure.

Feel free to play with the definition of "mid-high ranked" and "low ranked" in your response.

Feel free to do a scenario analysis where you consider PhD -> postdoc/assistant prof, postdoc/assistant prof -> tenure as separate cases requiring different analysis.

FYI this is for economics/finance/statistics, but also feel free to talk about your own areas where you've had the experience.

I started wondering about this when I came across some extremely high quality working papers that aren't published and that have hundreds of citations. This makes me suspect that the 1st option is not optimal.

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None of the above. Aim for 10 papers in high-ranked journals (along with recommendation letters from well-known senior researchers that praise the actual quality of the results in specific and credible detail). Why do work for low-ranked journals at all? –  JeffE Dec 14 '12 at 2:18
    
@JeffE If you already wrote the paper and it's incremental research. You were just starting out as a researcher and didn't have much experience so decided not to aim for an unrealistic contribution. –  Jase Dec 14 '12 at 2:26
    
Are there no 100-citation papers in low-impact journals in your field? What's going on? –  Blaisorblade Oct 12 '13 at 1:46
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

the 'working paper' notion in economics appears unique to that area, so I can't comment on that. The problem with your phrasing though is that it ignores quality issues. Assuming therefore, that the 10 papers are fixed, and the only question is which of the three options to use, then the answer is probably (1).

For people who want to know about the work, either of (1) and (2) are fine, and (3) makes little sense (I also don't understand why that would be viewed as unethical). but even then, there's some low-quality non-zero positive information associated with publication in a journal the reader hasn't heard of.

For people who prefer to look at CVs to infer quality, then (1) is superior to (2) (again (3) doesn't make sense).

One way in which (2) is superior to (1) is if you're hoping that you get the benefit of the doubt for unpublished work that has no "quality signal" like the name of the venue it appears in. This is unlikely to happen unless you're in an area where it's common to have unpublished manuscripts circulating and valued.

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I appreciate your guidance on this issue. I was thinking of (3) because a large (working/unpublished paper):(publication) ratio may be a bad signal. –  Jase Dec 13 '12 at 16:56
    
why ? most people have working manuscripts that go along with published work. over time, the number of active unpublished manuscripts stays constant (hopefully) while the number of publications increase. –  Suresh Dec 13 '12 at 16:57
    
What about manuscripts that remain manuscripts? On some academic's websites/profiles I see unpublished/working papers/manuscripts from as early as 2001. Would it be optimal to delete these (as it's obvious that that individual has failed to publish that paper)? –  Jase Dec 13 '12 at 16:59
    
It depends. In many cases the manuscript has taken on a life of its own. The founding paper in a sub area of theoretical computer science was a tech report and has stayed that way for 15 years –  Suresh Dec 13 '12 at 19:26
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I think the underlying premise - that unpublished manuscripts are a bad thing - is questionable. No point trying to count angels on pins after that. –  Suresh Dec 14 '12 at 2:56
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