I want to see whether I can publish my undergraduate work after a decade.


This is to support my academic career as I am planning to apply for a PhD program (Biophysics/Chemistry/Structural biology) in the US soon. I do have an MA from a highly ranked Public Ivy (mastered out from PhD due to health issues). I am targetting a few very competitive programs.

The last two years of my career are a bit productive. I got two coauthor papers this year (Angewandte Chemie, Analytical Chemistry). Most probably get two others (Science, Angewandte Chemie). Around 15 conference abstracts published (citable). But on papers, my name is in the middle as I am just a research tech (except conference abstracts where I am the first and presenting author for most).

Thus, I am not satisfied as I don't have any first-author papers. Then I realized that I can publish my undergraduate work.

In my undergraduate research, I synthesized a novel hydroxamic acid hexadentate ligand and then carried out a speciation study of its iron (ІІІ) complexes using UV-Vis spectroscopy. Only one type of ligand-iron (ІІІ) complexes was revealed in spectroscopic studies. Then I was supposed to verify my results by using MD simulation. I have not completed this part. However, I can complete this now.

I did this work a decade ago and only submitted my thesis to fulfill a degree requirement. However, I believed no one synthesized the compound after that.

I am interested to know how to go and determine

  1. work is publishable in quality

  2. If it is good enough, how should I proceed to finish up the work and publish it?

  3. Also, whether I can file a patent for this compound (I can find some useful application for the compound)

Another objective for doing this is to learn the process of publishing a first author paper and process of filing a patent rather than going after any commercial interest.

I got my undergraduate degree in Sri Lanka, and my PI never bothered to publish the work or file for a patent as he does not have an active research group. Moreover, most professors in Sri Lanka are only interested in teaching.

I appreciate any advice on this matter.

Update #01

Thank you @buffy

My priority is to get a first author paper out before the 2021 application session starts ( At least submit it). The patent is secondary, but I would like to get it to strengthen my green card application.

The department I work for now helps with patent filing, and they have dedicated staff for that matter.

My biggest issue right now is to find someone that can assess the quality of the work. My current PI is busy and often delay answering to my questions related to current work. So I do not have high hope there.

Also, I am mostly doing biophysics/physical chemistry/analytical chemistry/Biochemistry related work now. Thus regarding this particular work, I am not sure how to judge the quality or which journal to target.

Would it be appropriate to email a few professors that do similar work for guidance?

Update 02

Thank you @kosmos I have contacted my supervisor and previous collaborators. I am waiting for their response. I will see where people published similar work and go from there. I am not interested in paying someone to proofread; instead, I would like to get an idea about the quality of the work. My current research is on the modulation of G-Protein–Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) by soft membrane matter. Thus, I have minimal exposure to physical organic chemistry to answer that question myself.

2 Answers 2


You have a lot of questions to answer before you proceed.

If you intend to patent, you should start with that, or at least note that if you publish first, then in some places (US) a clock starts and you need to file a patent within a fixed time period or you work could become "prior art". You also need to know if the university is the proper party to file the patent. They may have rules about that, which you implicitly agreed to earlier. And patenting can be an expensive proposition, require advice from a patent attorney.

If you intend to publish, you need to determine whether others should be co-authors, and, if so, get them involved. Be careful of issues of plagiarism here if others contributed.

As to the required quality for publishing, the editor and reviewers of a journal will give you that information after you submit your work.


I got my work published after a decade. I touched base with my previous supervisor and he agreed to proofread my work. There is no stopping you from doing that. But as pointed out in another answer you must talk to your previous collaborators and ask for their permission to include their name if they are interested, or otherwise.

The same applies for a patent. You cannot own it by yourself if there are other collaborators. You would need a patent lawyer and it will cost you money, both for the lawyer and patent fees. Also, your Sri Lankan PI might have other issues, e.g. his university might not allow him to own a patent as they might claim that the work came out of using their resources, which I believe should be the case.

As for getting your paper proofread, you could get that service for pay. I believe there are many freelancers providing that service. You can consider that option, though personally I never did that and I do not prefer it. Since your previous PI does not try to get his papers published it is unlikely that he would be able to do a good job in supporting you even if he agreed to.

Look for the impact factor of the conferences and journals to learn about their quality. And then look at the papers in those journals to gauge the quality of your work. Check if any Nobel laureates or famous chemists have got their papers published with them. It should be fairly easy to determine the quality of the publisher. I generally send my paper to a target journal/conference which is best to start with. If it gets rejected, depending on the comments I downgrade it to the journal of poor quality or keep persisting with quality journals if I get good reviews. Though I do not study in your area, I believe the same process could work for you.

As you might already know this process of getting published requires time and patience, so if you need it by 2021 you must hurry up. Quality journals/conferences take a lot of time to get back to you.

Best of luck!

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