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I'm applying to graduate school (CS MS/PhD) this year and I wanted to put up a copy of my papers online so that admission committees would be able to see them. The problem is one of the papers is currently under submission at a conference and notification for the same is only on Jan 22nd. Another one is still in preparation and I will be submitting it soon to a journal/conference. So I was just wondering if it is okay if I put up these papers in my Academia.edu page? Actually one of my friends' told me that since Academia.edu submissions are searchable on Google, the conference I have submitted to and the journal or conference I would be submitting the other paper will have a problem. Is he right? How else can I provide a way for others to view these papers?

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For your submitted paper: Check the copyright and "prior publication" policies of the conference you've submitted to. It's very likely that they allow you to post a "preprint" of your paper on your web page. This is a very common practice in Computer Science, since it allows researchers to share their work without being delayed by the peer review process. You might also consider posting on a preprint server such as arXiv.org as this will further increase your audience (this is also usually allowed). And it would also be a good idea to include a copy of the paper with your applications, or at least a link; don't expect the admissions committee to find it by themselves.

For your not-yet-submitted paper: Again, there shouldn't be a problem with the journal/conference, but it's probably best to wait to make it public until it is completely finished and ready to submit. However, you could certainly include a copy with your applications.

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    Listing of approaches to self-publishing: sherpa.ac.uk/romeo – Piotr Migdal Nov 8 '13 at 19:25
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    There are two separate issues: terms of copyright and journal policy regarding prior publication. Be sure to check both before posting your manuscript online. Also, whether it is "very likely" that the journal allows it depends on your field: in math and physics it is common practice, but in chemistry or medicine it is rarely allowed. – F'x Nov 8 '13 at 20:07
  • @F'x: Thanks, I added a note about prior publication policy. They may or may not be found in the same place. The asker is in computer science, where I understand posting preprints is the norm. You are right that other fields may be different. – Nate Eldredge Nov 8 '13 at 20:19
  • @NateEldredge great, I had missed that the OP specified CS… I have taken the liberty of adding the precision to your post, to avoid misleading potential other readers :) – F'x Nov 8 '13 at 21:04
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This may not be relevant to OP's situation but it's relevant to the general question: There is one additional issue not addressed so far: Are you sure that you want everyone in the world seeing your paper now? Are you sure, even, that you want admissions committees seeing it? If a paper is accepted for a conference, that means that someone has decided it's at least good enough for that conference. You have a little bit of confirmation that you're not embarrassing yourself by posting your paper publicly. But conference papers don't necessarily have to be good in a self-contained way. It might be enough, from the point of view of the conference organizers and reviewers, if the paper is intriguing and could lead to interesting discussion and feedback.

The safest thing to do is to restrict circulation of your papers to people you know until the paper has been published. I'm putting aside issues about copyright, prior publication, etc. My point is that having had a paper reviewed, having gotten feedback, and having revised to the extent that reviewers think the paper is worth publishing provides good reason to think that you are not embarrassing yourself by making the paper publicly available. (Alternatively, just get lots of feedback from people who are qualified to give it.)

That's the safest thing to do. I'm not saying it's the best thing to do. There are tradeoffs. By putting the paper out on the web early, you promote your ideas, advertise what you're about, and promote discussion.

I'm not sure that any of this applies to CS, and I'm not sure that any of it applies to your situation. It's more relevant to people who are going on the academic job market after graduate school. I think that what people are probably looking for in graduate applicants is that applicants have a lot of promise. If there is good raw material, but also rough edges, that's OK: Helping you grow past the rough edges is the job of the graduate program.

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    Are you sure that you want everyone in the world seeing your paper now? — If the answer is "no", the paper is not ready to submit. – JeffE Nov 9 '13 at 3:15
  • It's not just that. You may think the paper is ready for everyone to see when it's not. – Mars Nov 9 '13 at 4:43
  • first of all thanks for the reply :) Although it's true that I might end up embarrassing myself, my adviser thinks that it is good idea to submit it somewhere and so we plan to do it in a few days time. But in the meantime I just wanted to put this up (at least the first draft) so that admission committees might be convinced that I'm just not boasting when I say that "I want to pursue research". One more reason is that I just thought doing so might increase my chances of getting in. – anon. computer scientist Nov 9 '13 at 4:59
  • Don't the job ads ask you to send a writing sample? If not, would it be OK, in your situation, to send it with your application, anyway? That way, if someone looks at your materials, the paper is right there. They don't have to go looking for it on the web. I can tell you that when someone is plowing through dozens of applications, whether printed or in front of them on a computer, they may not want to go looking around at academia.edu or anywhere else. Maybe there won't be many applications competing with yours, but if there are, try to make it easy for the people reading them. – Mars Nov 9 '13 at 5:05
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    If you can't get it in front of them, then I think it's fine to make it available on the web. I personally like the idea of a private link (although putting it in a public place does have the advantage that people evaluating you can find it even if they lose track of the link). – Mars Nov 9 '13 at 5:17

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