I wrote an expository term paper in graduate school and posted it on my website, never trying to get it into a journal. Google Scholar says it now has 19 citations from various countries ("widely" is of course relative; what I mean is that this is more citations than my other publications have).

Since the article apparently resonated with an audience, should it now appear on my CV? If so, should I describe it with the name of the professor or course for which I wrote it, or just a title with no venue?

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    The question seems impossible to answer without more information about your current career stage, number and quality of research publications, and the quality and topic of the expository paper. One can imagine scenarios where the expository paper does make you look a bit more impressive, and others where it just makes you seem desperate to pad your CV with unimportant things. Not sure what more can be said.
    – Dan Romik
    Feb 19, 2020 at 17:57
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    19 citations doesn't yet quite count as "widely cited". But at a certain stage of a career, it might provide a noticeable boost to a CV, and then it's of course useful to list it. Feb 19, 2020 at 20:36
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    What field are you in? In my little corner of mathematics, 19 citations would be pretty sweet.
    – user108403
    Feb 19, 2020 at 21:37
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    Is it a good paper - one you would be proud of? Feb 20, 2020 at 14:43
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    Is it possible this paper could be published in a review-type journal? Maybe you should submit it. There are several such journals that do "wrap up" or "state-of-the-art" type articles. The things "everybody knows" but not everybody knows, or knows in detail.
    – puppetsock
    Feb 20, 2020 at 14:48

4 Answers 4


One strategy is to do a deep-dive to check up on the quality of those 19 citations.

  • If you end up impressed: submit your paper to a journal. (The peer review will add some quality or quality control; the paper is less likely to disappear; and the author gets recognition.)
  • If not: maybe just leave it as is and don't include on CV.

(I had a similar experience as you describe. Sometimes some less-serious researchers just want to cite something with the right words in the title... not saying that's the case with your citations but it's worth checking.)

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    Scientific journals typically focus on publishing new results. If the paper does not present new results, but rather old results explained nicely, that is, if it's mostly teaching material rather than research material, getting it published at a journal may be difficult.
    – Uwe
    Feb 19, 2020 at 19:49
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    @Uwe - many fields have teaching-specific journals where such a paper might fit well.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 19, 2020 at 20:10
  • @Uwe, Jon is correct. There are also journals that only publish reviews. And mercenary editors who will publish anything that gets many citations. Feb 19, 2020 at 22:13
  • @Uwe that depends on the field. In my particular field we have a concept called a "pearl" which is exactly something that might not be quite novel but is explained in a "beautiful" way. Pearls are often quite different beasts from the regular research papers but are nonetheless valued.
    – J_mie6
    Feb 21, 2020 at 1:18
  • I guess it's time for the Academia.SE mantra: "Academia varies more than you think it does."
    – Uwe
    Feb 21, 2020 at 10:47

I think its becoming more common to have divide the "publications" section of a CV into "Peer-reviewed primary research" and "Reviews, pre-prints and other non-reviewed publications". Would that work for you?


Add unpublished but widely cited paper to CV?

If it's widely cited, then it has been published. Perhaps you mean - published only in non-refereed venues? If such work is meaningful and you feel like showcasing it, then you can certainly put it in your CV. I've done this with a monograph of mine that's on ArXiv - and it's not even widely cited.

  • And if it is already being cited and genuinely being interacted with by other researchers then you could think of it as going through the real peer-review process now - that's something many papers in peer-reviewed journals don't actually get! Feb 21, 2020 at 6:06
  • This. It is very normal to have publications that are not peer reviewed in the CV: posters, oral presentations, technical reports, proceedings papers (in my field they are not peer-reviewed and thus rare), I also list some software there. Feb 21, 2020 at 11:45
  • To add to this, ArXiv has some quality control. Its not peer review, but if it gets in, its at least, not some random work, but something worth reviewing in general. So yes, if its in ArXiv, its OK to list it in your CV, I think. Feb 21, 2020 at 12:36

Since the article apparently resonated with an audience, should it now appear on my CV? If so, should I describe it with the name of the professor or course for which I wrote it, or just a title with no venue?

Whether it should be included depends on your career path.

For research positions, you should definitely include the manuscript on your CV and I'd suggest treating it like a technical report. (You could mention the course for which it was written (and possibly even the professor), but that depends how you introduce the work.) For other positions, it depends how relevant you consider the achievement.

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