I currently work at a research org, and will be applying to PhD programs soon. For my CV, I am a co-author on a few publications that I'll be able to add, but have been recommended to add some in-progress or under review reports.

While "under review" is pretty straightforward, I'm curious what the cutoff should be for a report that is "in progress"? I have some projects that still have a year remaining, but we've written roughly half of the report. For others, we have less time remaining but have only written the introduction, or something like that. I'm guessing people will have very different opinions here, looking forward to seeing what you all think.

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    I came across some CVs that used the term in preparation. Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 22:28
  • I haven't done this (but am very curious, +1), but my intuition would have been only to list it once the draft is being circulated regularly. Commented Jun 25, 2018 at 22:46
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    the only danger is they may ask to see a manuscript. Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 1:43
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    @FuzzyLeapfrog is that considered different from "In progress"? And the same question still applies, about the cutoff point...
    – Blaise S
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 13:54
  • @Blaise I don't know what any of the other users of the term in preparation were thinking. In my working group, we used it whenever a text, i.e. the real text of the publication, was structured and partly written and when we could estimate how long it would take from this point to the submission/finalisation. Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 13:59

4 Answers 4


As an applicant to a PhD program, you want to demonstrate that you have been involved in projects that have lead to publishable results. It is common in my field (let's call it neuroscience today), for junior researchers to list in prep manuscripts. As to what constitutes an in prep manuscript, you should list anything that has a large enoguh scope that you can confidentially discuss the research methods, results, analysis, conclusions and implications. If you can do that, it doesn't matter if you have anything written (although if you are that far along, you should be writing it up).

  • But for a long-term research project (say a 4 year evaluation of a STEM job training program), you might be 2 years and nine months into it, have written a decent amount of the final report, and done more than half of the total work, but you can't actually speak to final results/conclusions/implications yet. This isn't exactly my scenario, but is more the example that I was thinking of because it is similar. It is truly "in progress" in the literal sense of the phrase.
    – Blaise S
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 3:06
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    “As an applicant to a PhD program, you want to demonstrate that you have been involved in projects that have lead to publishable results” — Really? Is this a requirement nowadays? Shocking. Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 16:47

For me, it looks bad to list in-progress papers under the same heading as published and submitted papers. It comes across like you want people to skim your CV and think you've completed more papers than you really have. And after all, anyone can say they have tons of great papers in progress. It's not verifiable.

But for an early career researcher, it's understandable to want to advertise your research experiences that haven't led to papers yet. A separate section titled something like "ongoing research projects" with a short description of each, would get the desired information across, and you wouldn't have to worry about where to draw the line, because you wouldn't be implicitly claiming that the projects are almost done.

  • This is what I was planning--to have a heading that says "in progress" or "ongoing" or something similar. The original person who recommended me doing this for my PhD application suggested as much, but gave a vague definition of what that meant: "if the report has a title, and a little bit of text written, include it".
    – Blaise S
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 15:48

In principle you could list any unfinished manuscript which you can immediately show if requested.

However, be careful. This is highly dependent on local culture and practice. I have included two manuscripts "in prep" to my online CV prior to applying to a PhD position. I was recommended to do so by a senior friend and colleague. I think overall it was advantageous, though surely there will always be someone who will not see that with good eyes.

So, to make sure, ask around trusted senior colleagues. If you believe you have "enough" published papers, I'd recommend not officially listing any under preparation, though you may mention their existence more noncommittally.


Perhaps - Unless you know that a report/work has been accepted for publication, I would not suggest listing it. However for work in progress that has some sort of verifiable references (grant's, fellowships), consider making a stand-alone section named something like: "Research in Progress", and here I would suggest making a table of Sponsors, and the title of the actual program, followed by the estimated due date. However if you decide to include this information block, it may accidentally confuse your reader if they are considering you for a job, as they may consider you will be overloaded with work. So, an alternative would be to NOT include any in-progress work as you don't want to put your efforts at risk for the goal you are seeking just to pad your resume. Both options are workable. It depends upon the situation. Good luck.

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