I have an idea inspired by class project readings but is significantly different from the class materials and published work. I already have some promising results. I am tempted to do the research and try to write a paper on it and send to the journals. (This is in the field of CS and not much resources are needed to do the research.)

I am a Master's student pursuing an online terminal Master's degree. I have no prior experience with publishing a paper. Being an online program, I have no face-to-face interactions with the faculty, but I do have a lot of online interactions with the helpful TAs.

I am wondering what is the best way to go about this.

  • Should I indicate I am associated with the school?
  • Should I indicate that I am working with my professors/TAs, although I have never discussed the idea with them?
  • I have done a reasonable search on the existing papers on this idea and haven't found any. But there are thousands of papers and I am worried that I won't be able to do an exhaustive enough search to see if there is anything similar to it. How is this usually handled?
  • Similarly, what about related ideas? I do see that some ideas are related to mine. Should I try to reference all of them?
  • Is there anything else I should be considering?

I know the chance of actually getting it published is slim. But it is worth trying and I want to do it right such that the only thing I need to worry about is to produce something with quality.


  • I noticed that the original version of my question was not communicating what I meant. I apologize that it caused some confusion and responses based on that.
  • I am in fact not sure if I want to get a Ph.D. and do research for the school as a way of making a living. I have not decided. Right now I just want to finish the research, write a paper, and possibly publish it.
  • The motivation is not career. I just find the idea and results interesting.

2 Answers 2


You need more than an idea to get published in a journal.

A research journal contains articles written about research which has produced new knowledge. If you haven’t done the research yet, you probably shouldn’t try writing a research paper.

Instead, you’d be looking at writing a research proposal, detailing the research problem and the gap in existing knowledge and why it’s important, the specific research question you’re intending to research and how it will help address the research problem by filling in a part of the gap in existing knowledge, and the specific methodology you’re planning to use for your research, along with the resources you expect you’ll need.

At this stage of your career, you would then likely send this proposal to various faculties at universities that have academics working on related fields as a part of applying for a PhD program.

  • @TomBennett The resources in question could very well be “a year’s time, a computer, open source libraries X, Y, and Z, an IDE for the relevant programming language, and a student researcher with a faculty advisor”.
    – nick012000
    Nov 1, 2019 at 4:42
  • I think my question caused misunderstanding. I am definitely not saying I am publishing a paper on the idea without research. I am saying I have an idea and seem to have some promising results already and am tempted to write a paper. But, although I have a ton of industrial experience, I am new to the business of publishing papers and need guidance. Nov 1, 2019 at 4:42
  • 1
    @TomBennett In general, I think discussing it with a faculty member at your institution who’s doing research in a related field is probably a good idea.
    – nick012000
    Nov 1, 2019 at 4:45
  • I see. Thanks. While I would appreciate the guidance from a professor, I am not sure if I should be employed by the school to do this. I am wondering if I can just do this independently as a student with some help from the professors if I can get it, or otherwise just proceed on my own. Maybe I am naive. Nov 1, 2019 at 4:51

You wrote that you have never discussed the idea with your TAs/professors. I would recommend you do just that. Tell the professor teaching the class how you thought about some course topics and extended it to this new idea of yours. The professor can tell you whether this is exciting enough to make into a research paper. If this can become a scientific paper you want the support of a professor, even if just for the formal aspects of writing and submitting a paper. Even if this will not become a research paper it would still mark you as a top student who thinks beyond the core material of the course.

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