I am currently an undergraduate, wanting to apply to PhD programs this upcoming fall. So I started talked to a CS professor doing research in deep learning and he set me up to work with one of his graduate students, so I started to work with the grad student and only communicated with him, not the professor. I recently came up with a new idea for a model to be published that the grad student thinks is a good idea, but he told me he has left working with the professor and no longer is working on this research.

So I am at a crossroads on what to do. I have an idea that was told could be good, but I have no idea what the process looks like for self-publishing and expected that the grad student would be there to help me. I thought about reaching out the professor, but I am not sure what to say, since the grad student left, the project is essentially dead I think so it is more of just me having a new idea and not sure how the professor could help with it.

Any advice on whether I should reach out to the professor or just try to work on it on my own would be greatly appreciated.

2 Answers 2


Speak to the professor again. There're a lot of reasons for this:

  • He set you up with the graduate student, so he can set you up with another graduate student if necessary.
  • If he set you up with his graduate student, then in some way he's also responsible for you. He won't leave you to your own devices now.
  • He's still working in the field, so he will know what to do with your idea. He'll probably know what to do with your idea better than the graduate student.
  • It sounds like you only have an idea. Ideas aren't usually publishable; you need results. Because you're an undergraduate, chances are you won't be able to get those results easily without guidance. The professor can provide that guidance.

I think the professor is the best place to get advice on this. You might even be able to find a way to continue the work under their direction. Possibly the project can be continued.

As to the question of publishing, the prof may also have some ideas, as well as some caveats. Since some of the work was joint work, the grad student might need to be co-author, depending on various things, including the field.

But, in general, there is no reason an undergraduate can't publish research papers. The prof may be able to help with that if it seems to be the best course of action.

I've assumed, from what you say, that the grad student is no longer interested. Otherwise it would be good to include them.

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