I am an associate professor in a department, mostly focusing on progressive topics related to spatial applications of artificial intelligence.

Besides my research projects, I have innovative and novel ideas, with I just don't have time to deal. If students interested to work with me, I used to give them ideas like that.

They can present their results (under my consultation/supervision) i.e., in a Student Conference at the university. But according to our university licensing, consulting does not lead to any authorship for the mentor.

If I think in the long-term, there is a good chance they will leave the university after a BSc (or even MSc) thesis. In that case, my shared (sometimes novel) ideas get stuck. Since I won't publish their 'managed' contribution to the research, it's a moral thing for me.

So I was thinking, instead of (or beside) draining them to the Student Conference, I should motivate them to write journal or conference paper, where copyrights are better solved, I can be a senior, last co-author.

But I am afraid that journals/papers don't support BSc student authors that much. Am I right? Are there journals/papers where the acceptance rate doesn't depend that much on the authors' affiliation? Do you have any hint, feedback on this idea?

  • "...where the acceptance rate doesn't depend that much on the authors' affiliation" Was affiliation the right word there?
    – Aaron
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 3:09
  • Probable duplicate of academia.stackexchange.com/questions/65166/… Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 4:27
  • The answer to the title is yes; I've done it. Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 18:41
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    University affiliation itself isn't even required, let alone any particular status within a university.
    – chepner
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 22:03

7 Answers 7


But according to our university licensing, consulting does not lead to any authorship for the mentor.

You may want to consider double-checking what exactly that means. It's highly likely that your university does not forbid you to be co-author of a paper written under your supervision if you contributed intellectually to the paper, which is the case if the student uses your ideas. The rule most likely states or is meant to state that supervision alone is not sufficient for authorship.

But I am afraid that journals/papers don't support BSc student authors that much.

How would they know that the student is a BSc student? The only case I've ever seen where this is mentioned is in IEEE journals, where some authors may have ", Student Member" attached to their name if they pay the student rate of the IEEE membership - but even then, it could still be a PhD student.

If you want the paper to be published at a good venue, you will most likely take an active role in the writing process, and in the resulting paper, it should not be visible what status the individual authors had.

  • In most of the papers and journals, you have to name the authors' department, workplace. And the problem is that you can't just assign a BSc student to your department to write a publication. It doesn't seem bad if an author only attached to a university or a faculty nor a department?
    – pnz1337
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 16:14
  • 3
    @pnz This may be field-dependent, but I've never seen this enforced for the initial submission, and haven't seen "workplace" in particular be mentioned in any submission form. I would just leave it out for the initial submission (for all authors). By the way, but my latest journal paper doesn't have a department. On a related note, PhD students with a scholarship wouldn't be able to list a "workplace" either (because they don't work), and there are certainly no reservations against such students.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 16:33
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    @pnz In computer science, many conferences are double blind. Even when they’re not, a student at a university is definitely able to put down that university as their affiliation, even if they’re “only” an undergraduate. Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 17:42
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    @pnz: Maybe we never thought as much over this as we should, but the custom in all departments I was in touch with seemed to be that for a BSc student, while writing a paper in the course of a project or thesis at your department, counts as "associated with" or even "a member of" your department, for the purpose of indicating the author affiliation for the paper. It is indeed not their workplace, but I have rarely seen submission forms to be that specific (in particular, as in many countries, even PhD candidates are not seen as employees of the department, but rather "just" as students). Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 6:48

Journals do not care about the credentials of the authors. They care about the quality of the paper. A low-quality paper by a BSc student will be rejected, just as a low-quality paper by a full professor will be rejected. [You can find other questions on this in the forum.] The main point here: they will not accept a bad paper just because it is written by a BSc student ... is that what you mean by "journals don't support BSc student authors that much"?

Also note: When you try writing a paper on "innovative, novel ideas" outside your area of expertise, you may easily write a bad paper since you do not know the existing relevant literature.


I published multiple papers with my BSc and MSc students. Some loose observations:

  • It is easier for you, the advisor, to write the manuscript, even if the student has already written their thesis. Proper scientific language with very concise and controlled wording is a matter of exercise. Your student might have not enough of it, even if their thesis is superb.
  • If the student intends to pursue an academic career, however, investing more time into writing helps them a lot. Let them write the paper the way they would do it, then do all the revision suggestions. Basically, do what your PhD advisor did with your first paper.
  • I put my students as first authors on their papers, they deserve it.
  • It makes some sense for you, the advisor, to be the corresponding author – even solely for the reason you would be more easily google-able or still around. Another option is discussing this with a student and putting their private email address on the paper.
  • In some cases, there is a GitHub repository to the paper, typically running on the account of the student. If it is referenced on the paper, this is a yet another method to contact the student, even years later.
  • Based on my limited sample base, a prospect of a possible paper publication motivates a student a lot, even if they do not aim for an academic career.
  • 2
    Nice answer. I've had similar experiences when mentoring undergraduate students. Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 20:28

I have several (3) papers published in good math journals, where the research was done jointly with either a BSc level student or below. I expect three more papers where my former master student is a coauthor, where one of the papers is the continuation of his masters thesis.

There are no issues whatsoever, in my experience, only quality matters. I suggest to let the students be involved in the submission process, to learn the ins and outs of publishing.


TL;DR It shouldn't matter that much what their degree level is. Your affiliation will probably make the most difference, to the extent that it makes a difference.

When I was an undergraduate, I had a job as a research assistant in our chemical engineering department.

We did not have any graduate research assistants at the time in our group, and we published two papers in my time there (had no problems with publication). It was a joint ChE/EE project, so each student was listed by the department that handled their major (if you're admitted into the degree program, you're affiliated with the department). The senior faculty advisors took the final author slot, and they motivated us by offering the position of first-author to the one who contributed the most. There were a dozen of us, and we did quality work. We wound up with a lot of co-authors on one of our papers, but I wouldn't hesitate to say that each made significant intellectual contributions to the work.

I was struck by the comment that you wouldn't publish work done by a student who leaves with a BS thesis. Any student I've worked with would be thrilled to know their research went somewhere, rather than occupying an empty shelf. If you don't think their contribution was significant enough to deserve co-authorship, include them in an acknowledgement, that's what they're for.

As a senior researcher, your job isn't to do the actual experiments. You're there with the big ideas, and the know-how of what probably won't work. Rarely do I see a professor in a lab; their time is too valuable.

I would recommend you reconsider publishing students' managed contributions. Under no circumstances should you take credit for their work, but sending them an email with something like, "I thought you did quality work on this project, and would like to see it published! If you can do x,y,z, we can submit it to a journal together. If you aren't interested in publishing it with me, I could include you in an acknowledgement, and it could still make an impact." would usually be met with a positive response. The whole process would be very helpful to any student considering graduate school.

Facts are not copyrightable, and university student conferences don't serve the same purpose as peer-reviewed journals. If you're concerned with copyrights on the figures, you should make better figures for the paper using the same (non-copyrightable) data [though you can hold a copyright on a collection of data]. Chances are the you'll want different figures by the time the paper is finished anyway.

Maybe it's colored by my experience, but to me final authorship is a stamp of approval from an experienced researcher who is personally vouching for the work with their reputation. The final author should obviously be very involved in the research process, but doesn't necessarily need to have done all of the work by themselves.

I've heard of people who have problems publishing because they didn't have a university affiliation, but the affiliation of any individual will probably suffice for the whole, to the extent that matters. You still have to get past peer-review, and should still make sure the writing is quality. Undergraduates may especially struggle with quality literature review, but I strongly recommend involving them in the process. It's what pushed me towards a PhD.


It is definitely possible, and I would actually encourage students to do so if they intend to pursue an academic career. I had the privilege of having incredibly supporting mentors, and published the work for my BSc thesis as a first author in an IEEE journal (not even a member). The bio explicitly stated my BSc status. Being thrown into research like that was an exhilarating, albeit stressful, experience. Journals care about the quality of your work, not your degree.


Nobody cares about the degree of the student. Often in the US, you don't even have the whole comma Ph.D. thing* and people just figure the asterisked (communicating) author is a PI, professor, with Ph.D. and the others are postdocs or grad students (i.e. pre Ph.D.) But they could even be other PIs in a subordinate role. Really unless the reviewers or editors are familiar with the PI, nobody even notices or thinks about authors having a particular degree.

That said, there's a pretty normal way of writing, submitting papers, etc. So you should be seen as fitting in that. And this will help avoid any worries you have about degrees...but really nobody cares. But somehow reading between the lines, I don't get the impression that you are a skilled, "blooded" writer for peer reviewed literature yourself. So I am a little leery of the fate of some of your "new idea" papers or your ability to supervise a student through the process. That does NOT mean, don't do it. It does mean...know your blind spots and buckle down, write tight, follow the notice to authors, etc.

The other considerations to think about are if you can really package things to they result in at least an LPU. Probably very possible, but requires some thinking, strategy. Don't assume that the bachelors students will produce the way a full time grad student would, don't plan projects or deliverables with this exact expectation.

I would also think, please, to disentangle the issue of getting students good (right difficulty) projects with a citation (nice for them) from the broader topic of "have ideas but not time to develop them". Frequently that Venn diagram intersection will be small since the ideas really require more dedicated and skillful research to develop. Again, you're being naive if you think you can use the pre-bachelors students like a real grad student (and even that can have issues, delays...but still I can understand using them as "leverage").

*Amazing the strong correlation of how the weakest Ph.D.s take the most pleasure in the title and the strongest don't care (not that hard really...world is even arguably flooded with excess Ph.D.s), but take pleasure in discoveries instead.

  • 4
    A post doc is not pre PhD, if it where it would have been called a predoc Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 20:37
  • 3
    More seriously, your observations only apply to a parr of the world. There are many countries where your statements are plain wrong. That does not mean it is good, but you cannot ignore the environment in which you live. Your answer is misleading in such situations. Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 20:43
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    "Amazing the strong correlation of how the weakest Ph.D.s take the most pleasure in the title and the strongest don't care" Beside the fact this require some kind of data to at least sound plausible, you have countries where the doctorate is part of the national id card (Germany, Austria).
    – WoJ
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 16:00
  • 2
    This can also depend on the subject area. As a mathematician, I'd look rather silly if I published a paper with "Ph.D." after my name, but in other fields, like medicine, this seems to be fairly common. Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 16:45

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