I am a new master student in a ranked university. The academic program I have been admitted involves doing a Master and then continuing for a PhD (after fulfilling adequate academic requirements). As an undergrad, I published some papers as first author, and I am very familiar with the whole process, to the point where I can get papers accepted on my own. Now, I have some ideas lying around which I could quickly turn into papers.

However, as a first-year master student, I was told that I am not expected to do research (due to the tough courses). I also don't get a fixed advisor until I start the PhD part of the program. So I could just publish on my own. I don't want to sound arrogant, but I am very familiar with the topics and the literature of my current paper ideas, and have no real need for feedback in order to get them accepted on a good journal. I am not sure about the possible disadvantages later on. Here are my possible choices:

  1. Publish on my own, with university affiliation.
  2. Contact a professor (potential advisor later on), ask for feedback, and probably publish with him as coauthor.
  3. Wait until I begin the PhD, and then start pumping the papers.

What is the most sensible choice?

  • Not expected to, or expected not to? Presumably it's the first, which means they want you to prioritize the courses, but there's no reason not to get a head start on research if you have spare time.
    – Anyon
    Sep 6, 2018 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


Don't be shy about pushing your work forward. The stage at which a person becomes able to do original research is not fixed. Some people are more advanced. Well done you.

Generally speaking, a single paper isn't enough of a benefit that it should cause you to burn bridges. So I suggest you scope out how the faculty in your department would think about such an idea.

Your option 1 could get some feathers ruffled. Your option 3 seems to needlessly delay your advancement.

I suggest you find some variation on 2. In the school I did my PhD there was a head of graduate studies in the department. You could ask that person for some guidance. Present it as wanting to satisfy both being a good member of the university as well as advancing your work.

It isn't necessarily the case your department will push you to have a co-author. If you have come up with the topic and done the work entirely on your own, most profs will agree you should publish it as the only author.

It's different if you have any kind of assigned supervisor. Even if it's a very distant and high level kind of thing. For example, maybe there is one prof who deals with all the masters students. In that case, you would still want to approach that prof and discuss how to proceed. Still frame it as wanting to be a good member of the university while also advancing your work.

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