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I have a few papers, one of which is on a topic that, after thorough checking, has not been researched from this particular angle before.

My question is where can I publish this without going through peer reviewed academic journals? I only have my undergrad, and am looking to publish the work to make myself competitive for a PhD finance program. The paper is on real estate finance.

I just need a quick- one, two, you're published! Will finance programs look highly on this, or will they ignore it completely?

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Publication typically is much more highly regarded if it is peer-reviewed. I am not always sure that this is justified, but that's the way it is. So, what's the point of publishing without peer-reviewing, if it's for your application? If, on the other hand, you want people to know about the result, and it's scientifically sound and scholarly written, you could try arXiv, if it's mathematical in content (e.g. finance mathematics). – Captain Emacs Mar 3 at 14:27
PLOS ONE may be a suitable venue. Submissions are generally only excluded for publication if the paper is of poor quality, rather than of little importance. – Moriarty Mar 3 at 15:10
The easier it is to get it published, the less helpful it will be for getting into grad school. Anything like "a quick one, two, you're published!" will not be valued, because if anyone can easily do that, it tells you nothing about the author's qualifications. – BrenBarn Mar 3 at 17:57
Beware of journals that dont have a peer review process!They are generally full of garbage, and they are VERY BADLY seen in academia! Better nothing than something in a predatory journal! – Ander Biguri Mar 3 at 18:39
people look highly on published work because it is peer reviewed – JamesRyan Mar 4 at 11:17
up vote 118 down vote accepted

"…a quick- one, two, you're published!"

That's not how it works.

What works is:

  1. Make it a publicly available preprint (online repositories like arXiv, a preprint series of some institute, university, maybe via your personal website or blog…).
  2. Submit to some peer reviewed journal that complies with papers that are available as preprints (and there are journals that do not cost you anything; you will not get "open access" for free, but in many cases the preprint can stay freely available).
  3. Put the paper in your CV and add "submitted for publication".

Then the paper will be visible and checkable and it also shows that you know how scientific publishing works.

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+1, particularly for that last statement. – E.P. Mar 3 at 20:30

To the real question behind this, "will such non-peer reviewed papers count towards getting into a PhD program?", the answer is "probably not at all" (I'd be interested in proof that you can do worthwhile research that is regarded as such by people knowledgeable in the field, i.e., reviewers), "and it might even be harmful" (it looks an awful lot like trying to game the system, and cheating in any form is frowned upon).

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I'm not really "game the system;" I think it would be explicitly apparent that my research was not published in a peer reviewed journal. But I may just attach my un-published papers as proof that I can do research effectively, as others have pointed out. I will also likely submit this paper to a peer reviewed journal. – Devin Mar 3 at 17:38
@Devin, then get them published as e.g. a technical report or something like that. – vonbrand Mar 3 at 19:15
@Devin, the problem for beginners is that just generating a document is not really persuasive that they "can do research effectively". Admissions committees are not usually inclined to read all the documents that come their way, but would prefer to have the "vetting" done by others, e.g., referees. (I am not such a fan of refereed journals, don't get me wrong...) – paul garrett Mar 3 at 19:47
@paulgarrett: True, but then, "just" generating a document (that looks and reads like a publishable document, in style, grammar, orthography, choice of words, and structure, upon the first attempt without many iterations of remarks and revisions) is something that an awful lot of STEM students at the Bachelor level seem to be hopelessly overburdened by. As such, I could see why peer-reviewed or not, the mere existence of one or a few such documents could be a slight plus. – O. R. Mapper Mar 3 at 19:58
@Devin, although I'm not acquainted so much specifically with "finance" journals, no, I'd not expect that an undergrad to have gotten something through the refereeing process. (Calling it "peer review" makes it sound better and more idealistic than it really is.) If you want to send an un-refereed paper as part of your applications, have some more experienced person check at least the superficial aspects: format, language, citation style, tone, and approximate general correctness... to avoid gaucheries. :) – paul garrett Mar 3 at 20:31

You could put it on your blog, but it will probably be ignored. Part of the point of peer review is to help make sure that what you have published is new knowledge and not just a rehash of old things. So some experts in the field are asked to check. There are other reasons for peer review, but those might not be relevant here. Why do you want to avoid it?

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Again, it's a timing issue. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this particular project, so I would rather not muddy the water by publishing it online without peer review. But if it will help me get into a top PhD program, it may be worth the sacrafice. – Devin Mar 3 at 14:34
Perhaps you can submit it as a Technical Report of your Alma Mater? You would need to ask your previous supervisor (or someone else) for support, though. – Captain Emacs Mar 3 at 14:37
I don't see how peer review muddies anything. If you want to keep the value of your hard work, I'd hang onto your results until you can publish them properly. A non-peer-reviewed "publication" unless it's in The Economist or Financial Times isn't likely to help your PhD application very much. If you can condense it down and get it published as an editorial in a periodical, then it might help. – Bill Barth Mar 3 at 14:38
Taint, probably not, since it doesn't make it worse. But not getting it peer reviewed will certainly make it less valuable for PhD applications. – Bill Barth Mar 3 at 15:38
A Technical Report sounds like the least bad option so far. – Simon B Mar 3 at 17:03

I strongly advocate against this solution (beware, unethical scientific behavior), just answering part of your needs.

There exist low-standard journals (predatory publishers), that publish "anything": they claim they have peer-review, but you just have to pay fees and bam, your paper is published in a (so-called) journal and often open-access.

If you are lucky, your targets won't bother or won't check the quality of the journals. And you will get the payback of your investment in low-standard publishing.

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Should be taken as a warning, not a recommendation – vonbrand Mar 4 at 1:24
I hope I have been clear enough – Laurent Duval Mar 4 at 10:08
And - if you're unlucky they will check and decide that either - you're gullible, or you're trying to trick them. I wouldn't take a student who had published in such a journal. – Joel Mar 7 at 2:58
Of course, misconduct has downsides – Laurent Duval Mar 7 at 6:11
@Joel I have hired a postdoc whose first conference paper was in one of these spam conferences. It was a mistake, he was not supervised, and did not know. He was a great postdoc. I'd suggest asking the student first before making a decision – Laurent Duval Mar 7 at 21:28

Publication without peer-review isn't really publication, in any real academic sense. Might as well just print it up and send them a copy, or stick it on a web site.

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It is literal publication. It's not status-enhancing "publication". I shudder to think that "in any real academic sense" would exclusively refer to status-enhancing activities, disjoint from literal publication and accessibility of the fruits of academic labor. – paul garrett Mar 4 at 14:40
But just doing something and putting it out there is meaningless. Peer review exists in part to make sure people don't just turn out garbage. – roseofjuly Mar 4 at 23:13
One problem is that if OP publishes "without peer review" (except for a technical report or an informal preprint on e.g. arXiv) the paper can not be published formally (with peer review) later on. – vonbrand Mar 6 at 20:11

I recommend github or something similar. It is a format that is more conducive to collaboration.

Graduate committees are not going to consider this to be research, but it does show research interest. This should count for something (though probably not much).

Way more importantly, the sooner you get started collaboratively researching the better.

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