So basically, as an undergrad it's quite expensive to attend conferences. My paper got accepted to a more specialized IEEE conference. I had previously built simulation tools from scratch for computational EM (a more graduate-oriented topic), however I hadn't quite discovered anything new. I am also quite confused if having a conference paper to vouch for these tools will provide any additional benefit when applying for PhD as opposed to just showing that they indeed do work. If yes, then is it worth spending the money to present my work?

  • 1
    What does your research advisor say? (You did ask your research advisor, right?)
    – Mad Jack
    Dec 7, 2017 at 22:01
  • @MadJack not quite, I was sort of like afraid that the advisor might interpret it in the wrong sense and view me as someone who tries to lowball. I'm merely confused as to whether or not a paper would add anything to a tool. The advisor was impressed by the tool considering that I had about a week to do it.
    – Aakusti
    Dec 7, 2017 at 22:04
  • 1
    If you're asking about a recommendation of a specific conference, that's off-topic; asking if you need a conference paper to apply to grad school is on-topic, and perhaps you should edit the question to reflect that.
    – aeismail
    Dec 7, 2017 at 22:19
  • @aeismail edited it
    – Aakusti
    Dec 7, 2017 at 22:36

1 Answer 1


Having published a paper does have a positive impact on PhD applications. (But you don't "need" one in the strict sense - it is quite possible to get into grad school without having published.) But the reason is not because it "vouches for" your tool working. In most cases, the reviewers never get to try to execute your code, so it can hardly speak to that.

It does, however, indicate your ability to produce something novel, of interest, and to describe it in a manner that receives the approval of other scientists in the area - in other words, your ability to do research. Which is exactly what the PhD admissions committee will be looking for.

Whether you think that is worth the conference costs is a matter of personal judgement - but you should first look for other avenues of funding, such as your advisor or a travel grant from your university or the conference or a third party promoting undergraduate research etc.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .