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There are multiple academic competitions developed for young researchers. Some of them make perfect sense to me, e.g. a prize for the best poster at a conference. But there are cases when special competitions for young researchers are organized by academic journals. Here is an example from my field. Since such a competition is primarily aimed at PhD candidates and even recently promoted PhDs, and this is the level when publications are routinely required from the researchers, isn't it a strange idea to compete as a "young researcher" rather than just submit your paper in a usual way? Could it have negative consequences to label you paper as something "amateur"?

In the mentioned above case 31 papers competed for 1 award that assumed publication in the journal later on. Isn't ~3% success rate insane for a second tier journal?

Some journals even develop a special paper guidance for young researchers and introduce a position of Early Career Editor.

Are there good reasons for special publication tracks for young researchers? Do I miss something in my skeptical position?

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    The fact that you're early in your career is usually obvious from your CV... – user9646 Jan 10 '18 at 15:53
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    ... which should mean nothing for a proper editorial processing of your paper – ikashnitsky Jan 10 '18 at 15:54
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In addition to awarding the Young Author Prize, the jury decided to request the Population editorial board to review the other finalists’ articles for possible publication. The other candidates in the first selection will be sent referee evaluations and juror comments to assist them in future submissions.

This makes it seem like the “finalists” were papers good enough for publication. It would be interesting to know how many of the finalists actually ended up getting published. Although 1/31 is low, 6/31 is much less stringent and I think that might be the number you should be looking at.

Acceptance rates wildly vary by field, but it’s not implausible to me that only 6 of the 31 submissions warranted publication. Submissions by recent grads tend to not be as good, so the acceptance rate amongst recent PhDs should be lower than the average acceptance rate overall.

There’s also nothing that I see that says you can’t submit it both ways. All in all, I don’t find this particularly unreasonable. I’m not sure what added benefit there is, unless you win/are a finalist and can put it on your CV, but it doesn’t seem particularly amiss to me.

Tracks for young researchers often have more support than other tracks. For example, your link mentions that every submitted paper gets peer-review feedback, which isn’t going to be the case for a general submission. I’ve been to conferences with similar set-ups, where all submissions in the “young professional” bin get more attention and more feedback than general submissions. The value of feedback like that is hard to overstate. I don’t feel like it degrades your work to call it done by a young professional. My first paper was presented at a conference for undergraduates, and my resume still has that line on it. It is a matter of fact that that work was done by an undergraduate. The purpose of these kinds of events is to provide better feedback and better access than you would get from the usual venue, and I haven’t seen any analyses that say that they’re ineffective. My personal experience with them has been entirely positive.

  • Thanks for your answer. I guess, my question is much broader than this particular case. I feel it's generally a better strategy not to put the "done by a young researcher" label on your paper – ikashnitsky Jan 10 '18 at 17:59
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    @ikashnitsky I’ve added another paragraph to my answer to address that, but the tl;dr is that it’s a matter of fact that the work was done by a young researcher. It’s not degrading to say so. – Stella Biderman Jan 10 '18 at 18:30

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